East Midlands Ranger Area Stations #55 & #56 – Whitwell and Creswell

Now that I am into the last twenty of the 76 stations in the East Midlands Ranger Area challenge, most of the unvisited ones are further away from home. Yesterday, 6th October 2021, I crossed off stations 55 and 56 in the far north of Derbyshire. They were at Whitwell and Creswell, located a few miles south west of Worksop, which is the most northerly station on the list.

As ever, the journey started at a surprisingly sunny Burton on Trent station, with a journey to Nottingham. This trip could have cost me £38 for a return to Whitwell, but after using a ticket splitting website, I was able to save around £11. It turns out it was cheaper to buy tickets from Burton to Beeston, Beeston to Nottingham and Nottingham to Whitwell.

Whitwell and Creswell stations are on the Robin Hood Line, part of which runs alongside the Nottingham Express Transit tram lines, which I rode on last month. The journey from Nottingham to Whitwell took about an hour, and it was a lot more comfortable on the new trains that East Midlands Railways have brought into service for their Regional services.

EMR’s “new” regional trains

Whitwell railway station originally opened in June 1875 and closed due to the Beeching Cuts in October 1964. The original station building can still be seen, although you would have to go to the Midland Railway heritage railway in Butterley to see it. It was taken apart and rebuilt there in 1981, where it fills in for the previously-demolished Butterley railway station. The current station was built and opened in 1998 as part of the re-opening of the Robin Hood Line from Nottingham to Worksop. It has the usual facilities for a small station; waiting shelters, help points and a wheelchair-accessible footbridge between the platforms.

Time was at a premium, and I only had a couple of hours to look around Whitwell, walk to Creswell, have a look around there and catch the train back home.

Whitwell is a small village with a population of just under 4,000. The main employer is a quarry just south of the village. It has several amenities, such as pubs, a community centre, a pharmacy, and a Co-op supermarket, where I purchased some lunch before having a quick explore around the village.

One of the most famous people to come from Whitwell was Joe Davis, the snooker and billiards player who won 15 consecutive World Snooker Championship titles between 1927 and 1946 (there were no tournaments from 1941-1945 due to the war). The house where he was born in Whitwell has a plaque commemorating him.

I left the village and started the walk to Creswell, just a mile or so to the south of Whitwell. On the way, I saw a stone sculpture outside a park. I don’t know what it is or what it’s for, but it looked nice, so I took a picture of it.

Pretty stone sculpture

Creswell is a former coal mining village which grew in the late 19th and early 20th century. The village boasted many amenities, including a leisure centre, a cinema (which later became a bingo hall) and a drill hall (now the Creswell Events Centre). The colliery closed in the early 1990s, which led to a drop in population in the town with the loss of its main industry.

Old colliery wheel at Creswell Millennium Garden

The Creswell Crags is a prehistoric gorge with a pond in the middle and footpaths around the edge. Archaeologists have discovered ancient artwork and other items such as tools in the area, which is open to the public. There are underground caves which can be visited, as well as a museum. I had a short walk around, but time was running low, so I left and headed back to the village, but not before taking some photos.

I had less than an hour to catch my train back home, and I really wanted to visit the Model Village before I left.

Creswell Model Village was built in 1895 by the Bolsover Mining Company, who operated Creswell Colliery, to house their workers and their families. It is an oval-shaped village with a large village green in the middle, surrounded by 280 houses. Originally, a tram track ran between the houses to supply coal and take away the residents’ waste, in the days before indoor toilets. In addition to the houses, shops, a church and a club were also provided for the workers. Today, there is a children’s playground on the village green.

Sadly, time was once again running out, and so I made my way to the village’s railway station to catch the train back to Nottingham.

The original Creswell railway station was built in 1875, and was one of two stations serving the village, the other being Creswell & Welbeck station. The station was known as Elmton and Creswell station, and it closed in 1968. The original station building is still there, although it has fallen into disrepair and is now part of a scrap business near the station. Creswell & Welbeck closed in 1939, and the line on which it stood is now a cycle/footpath called the Clowne Branch Line Greenway.

In 1998, as part of the reopening of the Robin Hood Line, Creswell’s current station was built and opened. It serves the aforementioned village of Clowne as well as Creswell.

I need not have worried about missing the train, as it was running nine minutes late anyway. I boarded it when it arrived, then rode it all the way back to Nottingham, from where I caught the train back to Burton on Trent.

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