Late in 2019 the Buxton branch of Peak Railway Association was re-formed. The intention as well as providing a social venue throughout the year is to regenerate the land owned by Peak Rail Plc and open a new station. Ultimately this will connect via a line to Rowsley and offer a heritage route through some of the most picturesque scenery in Derbyshire.
We had a number of successful meetings in 2019 which were held at the Old Hall Hotel. In most cases the room was full to capacity. This led us to change the venue for 2020 to the Conservative Club in Buxton and judging by our first meeting in January the venue will prove to be the right move, more space and cheaper beer! This year we have a meeting every second Thursday in the month with a guest speaker giving an illustrated talk on all things railway both local and overseas.
Most members will remember the site in Buxton which Peak Rail owned until 1988. Requiring finances to build the line from Matlock to Rowsley required the sale of a large portion of the old Midland railway site. The remaining land has remained dormant until this month.
On 17th January I met with the new MP for High Peak Robert Largen at his constituency office in Buxton followed by a tour of the site. He expressed interest in our plans to regenerate the site which he felt would provide a major tourist attraction to the town.
Following a walk around the site with Roger Hallatt on 20th January we came up with a plan of action for the necessary clearance works to commence. Thursday 30th January was a major day as three PRA volunteers and myself started a litter pick on site to clear bottles, cans, tents and other litter which had accumulated over the recent years. Despite only being there for the afternoon we collected over 20 bags of rubbish.
Following the ringfencing of funds by PRA for the Buxton site, in early February a tree surgeon cut down all the trees on site to knee height. A 14ton excavator then dug out all the roots which were taken away in a 40cuyd skip. This work had to be completed before the bird nesting started. Towards the end of February the whole site was scraped of grass down to the ballast taking away over 100 tons of waste. In early March before the shutdown we had another day with the tree surgeon when we cut down the trees on the other side of the bridge and to the south of the platform overlooking the Aldi carpark. There are 3 large trees left on site which will have to be felled at some stage.
Our final fling before the shutdown was to repair various sections of security and wire chain link fencing. We had all the materials ready to do this before we took the decision to stop work. One stroke of luck came our way when I noticed that our neighbours McCarthy & Stone were taking down their security fencing and replacing it with a solid fence. I approached the site manager and he said we could take it away. On the last day before we stopped we moved most of it to a members site for repair and adjustment before we install it. The fencing will be our first job when we resume our activities on the Buxton site.