Ticknall Tramway

Breedon proposed Railway

“About the year 1793 it was in contemplation to make Rail-way, and a Canal in part, I believe, between the Trent River near King’s-Newton, and the Quarries of Magnesian Limestone at Breedon, and I believe to those at Cloud’s-Hill also a distance of about 3 1/2 miles, nearly 5 in Derbyshire and Leicestershire: by which this would I have nearly or quite connected with the Rail-way branches of the Ashby-de-la-Zouch Canal, and with the proposed one from the Leicester Navigation. In the Derby Canal Act of 33 Geo. III. that company I undertook, in case of this Rail-way, &c. being executed to make a Canal of about 1/8 of a mile long, from the bank of the Trent opposite to its termination, northward with the necessary Locks for connecting with the Trent and Mersey Canal near Weston Cliff: intended for giving a freer circulation of this Lime in the southern parts of Derbyshire; and in expectation also, of the shutting up of the Navigation on this part of the Trent.”

John Farey, 1815

The Little Eaton Gangway

The Ticknall Tramway was not Benjamin Outram’s first venture into tramway design. In 1793, Outram was commissioned to build a horse tramway to connect with the projected Derby Canal terminus at Little Eaton. Goods were to be transhipped on to horse drawn wagons at Little Eaton and hauled through Coxbench and Kilburn to Denby. Coal from mines at Kilburn and Denby and salt glazed stoneware from the Denby Potteries were carried back to the canal head. The system was identical to that later employed at Ticknall, using cast iron, flanged rails, about 3 feet long, secured by stone sleepers, with a gauge of 4 ft. 2 ins. The rails were cast by the Butterley Coal Iron Works Company at Ripley, in which Benjamin Outram and William Jessop were partners. Long trains were employed and old photographs show trains of 8 waggons pulled by a team of 4 horses. The system commenced working in 1795 and was closed in 1908. Another of Outram’s ventures was the Peak Forest railway which was opened in 1797.

The Coleorton Railway

The branch from Old Parks Junction to the Cloud Hill quarries at Breedon was opened with the main Ashby Canal -Ticknall line in 1802. However, when George Stephenson opened the Leicester -Swannington railway in 1833, it was realised that only a short connection was required to link the Cloud Hill branch to the base of the Swannington incline. This would provide a very quick route for lime and limestone to Leicester. A connection was made with the tramway at Worthington Rough, but in order to be compatible with the Swannington branch, it had to be laid with modern edge rails, whereas the Ashby branch was laid with Outram’s plate rails. From November, 1833 to 1838, lime was transhipped to different wagons to suit the different rails at Worthington Rough. In that year, the section from Worthington Rough to Cloud Hill was laid with a combined edge and plate rail, known as a rib rail which enabled both types of wagon to be used on that section. With the conversion of the Tramway to a full sized railway in 1874, both branches used the same standard gauge rails. The route was also used for coal from the Old Lount, California, Califat and Calcutta pits. The New Lount colliery used the line until the closure of the pit in the 1970’s and Calcutta pit stayed open as a pumping station for dewatering Whitwick Colliery until the closure of the latter in 1986. The line of the tramway is well marked, running along an embankment from “The Railway Inn” on the Ashby – Hathern road to Peggs Green and may be located in other places.

Howard Usher

Further Reading

Brand, E “Some Forgotten Tramroads”, The Railway Magazine, Vol.6, pp.211-215, March, 1990.

Clinker, C.R. & Hadfield, E. “The Ashby-de-la-Zouch Canal and its Railways”, pp.53-73, Trans. Leicester Arch. Soc., Vol.34, 1958.

Cooper, A., Leggott, P. & Sprenger, C. “The Melbourne Military Railway”, Oakwood Press, 1990.

Hyde, John. “The Ashby -Ticknall Tramway”, Derbyshire Life &Countryside, pp.28-29, January, 1975.

Jeynes, E.H. “Some Early Railways”, Model Engineer, pp.38-39, January, 1972.

Lee, C.E. “The Evolution of Railways”, 2nd, edition, p.101, 1943

Marshall G, Palmer M. &. Neaverson, P. “The History &* Archaeology of the Calke Abbey lime-yards”, Industrial Archaeology Review, XIV, 2, Spring, 1992.

Extracts from the Bye-Laws

1804 No waggon to be used with a gauge of less than 4’2” or greater than 4’3 1/2”.Derailed waggons must be unloaded before returning to the rails. Use of tramway prohibited between 1 hour after sunset, 1hr before sunrise.

1806 Weight of wagons not to exceed 2 tons gross.

1808 Speed restricted to walking pace.


Any person contemplating a perambulation of the route should seek advance permission from the landowners and farmers, including the National Trust and the Harpur-Crewe estate.

The National Trust has now refurbished part of the trackbed and incorporated it into a figure-of-eight path for walkers and cyclists. More information can be found on the NT website here. -Ed.

The Ticknall Tramway by Geoffrey Holt

© Ticknall Preservation Society 1992
Reprinted and Revised 1992, 1994 Second Edition 1996 Reprinted 1999

Design, Illustration and Layout Mick Usher (01332) 721027Cartography Mick Usher (based on original sketches by Roy Hammerton) Print FACT &FICTION http://www.factandfiction.co.uk


The National Railway Museum, York for use of original photographs used throughout this publication. We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Ken Hillier and Robert Jones of Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Roy Hammerton of Ticknall, David Birt of Chellaston, the Harpur-Crewe Estate, the Leicestershire Museum of Technology, the Snibston Industrial Heritage Museum as well as numerous local residents. We must also thank Mrs. Margaret Holt, without whom this project would not have been started.

Bryan Smith
Latest posts by Bryan Smith (see all)
Pages ( 6 of 6 ): 12345 6

Bryan Smith

Bryan is the editor of Ticknall Life community magazine. (For over 20 years.)