East Midlands Ranger Area Station #72 – Shirebrook

For the fourth time in 2022, I found myself on a train up the Robin Hood Line to visit the last unvisited station on that line, Shirebrook in Derbyshire. I had previously been up there twice in March (to Hucknall for the Nottingham Express Transit, and to Mansfield and Mansfield Woodhouse) and once in May, when I visited Langwith-Whaley Thorns station. Just a couple of miles south of there is Shirebrook.

Shirebrook railway station first opened in June 1875. It is the only one left of the three former major stations which served the town, the others being Shirebrook North and Shirebrook South. In 1951, someone had the bright idea of renaming this station to Shirebrook West, to avoid confusion. However, the station is actually in the east of the town. To add to the confusion, Shirebrook North wasn’t in Shirebrook, but was actually in Langwith Junction.

The present station (I’ll just call it Shirebrook from now on) was closed in the Beeching Axe in October 1964. Fortunately, the station buildings weren’t demolished, and they are now home to the Shirebrook Business Centre. The station re-opened in May 1998 when the Robin Hood Line fully re-opened between Nottingham and Worksop. The station is unstaffed, and has basic facilities such as help points, waiting shelters and dot matrix displays.

After leaving the station, I headed to the town centre and its market square. Shirebrook is a former mining town whose colliery closed in 1993. Many warehouses have been built in the town in recent years, including that of Sports Direct, which made the news headlines for all the wrong reasons a few years ago when it emerged that their workers were being mistreated.

Famous people from Shirebrook include the actors Jason Statham and the late Colin Tarrant, who played Inspector Monroe in ITV’s police serial The Bill. The footballer Ray Wilson was also born in Shirebrook. He was part of the England team which won the World Cup many years ago.

After a look around the town centre, I headed north out of the town towards Nether Langwith, which I visited back in May 2022. The last time I was there, I saw that there was part of a trail called the Archaeological Way which ran from the bottom of Poulter Park down to Shirebrook, and I wanted to walk it. I actually wanted to walk it in nice, sunny, autumnal weather, but it was pouring with rain (if you hadn’t already guessed from the photos).

The walk was fairly unexciting, probably because of the weather. The footbridge pictured above is actually an art installation called Bridging the Gap, which features the poem ‘Start Your Journey’ by Liz Cashdan inscribed on both sides and was installed in 2015. The graffiti is a more recent addition to the piece.

Part of the Archaeological Way is a former railway line which was built by the Lancashire, Derbyshire and East Coast Railway and ran from Chesterfield to Lincoln. The former Shirebrook North station on that line was opened in 1897 and closed to regular services in 1955, although it remained open for occasional excursions until 1964, when it closed completely. The old station house remains, surrounded by new housing. It is now a private house, so I didn’t take a picture of it.

The rain was still lashing down, so I decided to head back to the railway station, but I walked through Thickley Bank in the heart of the town on the way. It was mostly deserted, what with people being sensible enough not to be out and about in the monsoon-like conditions.

I arrived back at the station with about 45 minutes to wait for the next train back to Nottingham. When I arrived at Nottingham, my train home was already on the platform, so I boarded it and sat down to relax after a particularly fraught trip. The peace was shattered, however, when about 30 school children boarded, along with their teachers. Fortunately, they got off at Beeston, the next stop, and peace broke out again. The rain subsided and the sun came out when I was on the train back to Burton, which made for some stunning views from the train.

That’s it for this post. 72 stations are now in the bag out of the 76 on the East Midlands Ranger Area list, with just Elton & Orston, Stamford, Lincoln and Peterborough left to visit. Thanks for reading, and you can follow the blog on all the major social media sites, including Twitter, which is still going at the time of writing. The links can be found here.

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