For the second time in just over a week, on Wednesday 16th March, I found myself on a train on the Robin Hood Line. This time, I was headed for the town of Mansfield, which has two railway stations; Mansfield and Mansfield Woodhouse.
I caught the train from Burton on Trent to Nottingham, then changed to another train which took me up to Mansfield in less than forty minutes. I passed some of the tram stops which I had visited on the previous Monday. The railway line through Mansfield is built on a viaduct, which gives great views of the town from the train, and makes you feel as if you are floating over Mansfield. I alighted from the train at Mansfield Woodhouse, the more northerly station of the two.
Mansfield Woodhouse station originally opened in 1875, but was closed in the Beeching cuts in 1964, along with the other Mansfield station, leaving the town without a railway station for almost thirty years until the Robin Hood Line was re-opened in 1995. The station is unstaffed and has three platforms; two through platforms and a bay platform. The original station buildings were made from wood, and are no longer there.
I exited the station and entered Oxclose Wood, a huge woodland with footpaths. There are breathtaking views over the Nottinghamshire countryside and Mansfield Woodhouse, although it was quite misty when I went there. After a stroll around the footpaths, I had a difficult walk down a steep and muddy path back to the entrance, but I managed to stay upright.
I had a bit of a walk around the streets of Mansfield Woodhouse, an area whose previous industries included quarrying, mining and textiles. Some of the stone used in the Houses of Parliament was quarried in Mansfield Woodhouse. There is an ancient standing cross which is a listed monument, but there is no information board saying what it is for or why it is there.
On the way back to Mansfield, I spotted a park called Yeoman Hill Park, so I went in for a look around. There are a couple of sculptures within the park; one is a war memorial from the First World War and the other was installed in 2015 to mark the centenary of the park.
An Art Deco bandstand also stands in the middle of the park, which is used on less cold and rainy days than the day I went there. There is also a skatepark. I would have shown off my skills to the locals, but I left my skateboard in the 1990s.
I headed down the main road towards Mansfield, where I saw a sign for the Rebecca Adlington Swimming Centre, the former Sherwood Swimming Baths where the Olympic gold medallist learned to swim. It was refurbished and renamed in her honour in 2010. I would have had a quick dip in the pool, but I left my swimming trunks in the shop.
I arrived in the town centre at around lunchtime, which meant it was quite busy. There are many shops and shopping centres in the town, as well as leisure facilities including a leisure centre and the Mansfield Palace Theatre.
I walked to Titchfield Park, a pleasant area within the town centre with gardens and a small café.
Near to Titchfield Park, just over a main road, is the entrance to Quarry Lane Nature Reserve, a local nature reserve established on the site of an old mill called Field Mill. It’s a relaxing place to come for a walk. It looked as if a few locals had gone there to have their lunch, away from the bustle of the town centre.
A viaduct runs through the nature reserve. I thought it was the existing railway line, but it turns out it’s part of an abandoned branch line from the main line.
Time was running away from me, so I had to walk back to the town centre to catch the train home. I passed by Field Mill, the football ground which is home to the local club Mansfield Town, who play in League Two.
I stopped off at a supermarket on the way back to the station to buy some lunch. By this time, it had started to rain heavily, so I hurried to the station and scoffed my soggy sandwich while standing on the platform.
Mansfield station, sometimes known as Mansfield Town station, first opened in 1849. The present station buildings were built in 1872 and are now privately owned by local businesses, the station being unstaffed. A steep ramp and subway under the railway viaduct connects the two platforms. The station was closed on 12th October 1964, making Mansfield one of the largest urban areas in the UK not to be served by the railways. The closest station for thirty years was at Alfreton, until the Robin Hood Line was re-opened along with both of Mansfield’s stations in November 1995.
I enjoyed my time in Mansfield and Mansfield Woodhouse. I have now ticked off 63 of the 76 stations in the East Midlands Ranger Area, so I am on the home straight now. I am planning to get them all done before the end of the year. Thank you very much for reading, and if you want to follow the blog on social media, then all the links are on the menu to the left.