East Midlands Ranger Area Station #30 – Ilkeston

I have the week off work this week, so I took the opportunity to visit another railway station. This time, it was Ilkeston in Derbyshire. A look at the weather forecast a few days beforehand told me that it would be a fine and sunny day. A look at the weather the day before said it would be cloudy but dry.

So, on a rainy and windy Friday morning, 17th January 2020, I walked up to Burton on Trent station for the first part of the journey. My train was delayed by ten minutes due to a signal failure, but it didn’t impact my connection from Nottingham to Ilkeston. When I arrived at Nottingham station, my train was already on the platform. It was run by the train operating company Northern, so it would be my first experience of travelling with them. It was a modern-looking train, with plenty of space and comfortable-looking seats. I was only riding one stop, so I stood in the vestibule for the short trip to Ilkeston. One feature on the train I was impressed with was a screen which gives passengers a lot of information, including which side of the train the platform is on.

I had a bit of an issue with the door not opening, but I quickly went to the other door in the carriage and left the train that way. I was the only person who got off.

Ilkeston railway station is one of the newest in the area, having opened in April 2017 after many delays during construction. Ilkeston was without a railway station from 1967 to 2017, despite the town’s size (the population is around 38,000). The town previously had three stations; Ilkeston Town, Ilkeston North and Ilkeston Junction, which was the closest to the new station. All three were closed between 1947 and 1967, leaving Langley Mill as the nearest station to Ilkeston.

The new station has basic facilities and is unstaffed. There are car parks, waiting shelters and ticket machines on both platforms, and a ramp for people who can’t use the stairs. As with many stations I have visited, there is artwork by local school children warning of the dangers of trespassing on the railways.

It was raining in Ilkeston, with the sun trying in vain to shine through the thick grey clouds. I had a route planned for a walk around the town, so I headed north past the station on to a main road which led to an entrance to the Erewash Canal, which I think was the same canal I walked down when I went to Long Eaton a couple of weeks ago. In spite of the rain and the muddy towpath of the canal, I enjoyed a pleasant walk to Potters Lock, from where I left the canal to head towards the town centre.

Due to my terrible sense of direction and the fact I have never been to Ilkeston before (unless you count the former American Adventure theme park which was located nearby until it closed in 2007), I needed to rely on Google Maps a lot to find the town centre. On the way, I passed a cemetery with a nice-looking church.

Park Cemetery, Ilkeston.

After following a footpath, I found the town centre. Next to the market square is a huge church, St. Mary’s.

St Mary’s Church, Ilkeston.

There is also an old cinema called the Scala Cinema, which is still open for business. It’s a very impressive looking old cinema.

Scala Cinema, Ilkeston.

After a walk around Ilkeston’s town centre, including their partially-covered Albion shopping precinct, I decided that it was time to head back to the station. I was cold, wet, hungry and in dire need of a cup of tea, so I headed down Station Road and up to the station, just in time to see my train back to Nottingham departing from the platform. This meant I had almost an hour to wait at a freezing cold station in the rain. There was only me and a trainspotter there. He eagerly took pictures of all the trains which passed; freight trains, engineering trains and the non-stopping passenger trains. The only train I was interested in was the 12:45 to Nottingham, which arrived a couple of minutes late. It also arrived late at Nottingham, but my train back to Burton was standing waiting for me a few yards from where I got off, so I got on and it eventually took me home.

Overall, despite the weather, I had a good morning out in Ilkeston. Thanks very much for reading, and I will hopefully be back for another trip sometime soon.