The Society

(Please scroll down for an important change to the legal status from 1st August 2009)

In 1996 a small group of like-minded individuals with an interest in the old Ashover Light Railway got together and established the Ashover Light Railway Society (ALRS). The principal aim of the group was to record the surviving features of the old railway, both geographically and historically.


The ˜Where the Rainbow Ends” and Carriage No. 4. (click to enlarge)

Early projects included the production of a photographic record of the surviving track-bed between Ashover and Clay Cross, the creation of a database of known ALR artefacts (locomotive nameplates, signs, tickets etc) and an architectural survey of the ˜Where the Rainbow Ends” cafe, (which has since been saved from demolition by the society) and former ALR carriage in Clay Cross.

The results of the track-bed survey revealed a surprisingly intact formation, although the majority of the bridges have been removed. This led to thoughts of reopening part of the railway as a tourist attraction, and this is now the main aim of the ALRS; to see narrow gauge steam trains trundling up the Amber Valley once more.


Quarry Hunslet 0-4-0, STATFOLD, on the Lynton & Barnstaple Railway. (click to enlarge)

Inspired by the success of the Lynton & Barnstaple Railway in Devon, which reopened a section of line in 2004 after 70 years of closure, a draft Proposal was drawn up that detailed the ALRS’s ideas. These being principally to reopen a section of the old Ashover Light Railway along part of the original trackbed. Click here to view the map of the route (will open in a new window).

At the present time, the Society has no plans to reopen the whole 7¼ miles of the original line as this would be both impractical and very costly. Not only would Ogston Reservoir need deviating around (although something similar has been done on the Ffestiniog Railway), but it would also not be practicable to re-instate the Pirelli bridge and run into the former Clay Cross works site which has been re-developed since the closure of the ALR. Two options are being looked at:- one is to rebuild a section of the railway starting from Ashover (Butts), and the other to start in the acinity of Clay Cross. The railway would be rebuilt to 60cm gauge and be as faithful to the old Ashover line as possible.


Looking towards Clay Cross from Stretton station. (click to enlarge)

The ALR originally ran alongside The Royal Oak. (click to enlarge)

Carriage No. 4 on the bowling green on John Street, Clay Cross. (click to enlarge)

Two of the original Ashover carriages survive in Lincolnshire and another is currently undergoing restoration at the Golden Valley Light Railway. Additionally two War Department Baldwin 4-6-0 locomotives (identical to the original Ashover engines) are in the UK; 778 at the Leighton Buzzard Railway and no. 794, currently being rebuilt as no. 590, at the Welsh Highland Railway. The diesel engine that once worked the line is still extant on the Ffestiniog Railway, and other appropriate stock is in plentiful supply if you know where to look. It is the ALRS’s dream to see a Baldwin hauling original ALR rolling stock through the Amber Valley once again.

The ALRS’s initial proposal was sent out to land owners, Councillors, MPs and other people of note for comment, and the response has been met generally positively. A number of land owners have given the Society their backing, and the local Councillors have been very positive. This saw the ALRS move from being an informal, non-profit making organisation to an official subscription-based society in 2006. We now hope to make our plans a reality, and would welcome your support.  See the Membership page for more details.The ALRS’ attainment of Charitable status has been documented in the news section of this site and is already yielding results.

As a society the ALRS has achieved a lot in a very short amount of time and should we continue to do so it should not be that long before the dream of returning steam to Ashover becomes a reality.

The Ashover Light Railway Society is a registered charity no. 1129958.

Registered as a company limited by guarantee in England no. 06877968.

Registered address :165 Longedge Lane, Wingerworth, CHESTERFIELD, Derbyshire, S42 6PR.