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Ticknall Tramway

Part of a 20 km (12.5 miles) network of horse drawn tramways linking Ticknall with the Ashby Canal.

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Ticknall, Derby

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About Ticknall Tramway

The Ticknall Tramway was part of a complex of tramways constructed to link the brickyards, lime quarries and lime yards of Ticknall to the Ashby de la Zouch Canal. Other sections linked to Cloud Hill quarries and lime works and Smoile and Lount collieries. A canal connection had originally been proposed, but this was abandoned because of water supply and cost problems.

The tramway of 20 km (12.5 miles) consisted of cast iron flanged rails, 0.91 m (3 ft) in length weighing an average of 17.3 kg (38 lbs) mounted on stone sleeper blocks of not less than 68.2 kg (150 lbs). This system of using a flanged rail and a flat section wheel was known as a plateway, as opposed to the flanged wheel and flat rail of a railway. The rails were cast at Outram's Butterley foundry and he estimated that they would absorb the full capacity of the works for 15 months. The gauge was 1.27 m (4 ft 2ins), an increase of 203 mm (8 ins) over Outram's earlier tramways because he believed that the additional width would give greater capacity for general freight. The tramway was double tracked south of Old Parks, but single tracked with passing places elsewhere.

Cuttings and embankments within the park and adjoining farmland can still be seen as well as an accommodation bridge still in use for farming. The main engineering features are the bridge over the A514 in Ticknall village, known as the Arch, and two tunnels within Calke Park, one of 122 m (402 ft) length under the main drive from the A514 to Calke Abbey. This Grade II Listed Structure avoided the tramway having to cross the driveway to the Harpur family residence of Calke Abbey, thus preserving the appearance of the park. This cut and cover tunnel, with an arch like a canal bridge, is one of the world's oldest railway arches and the National Trust is considering creating a walkway /cycleway along the line of the tramway. Sleeper blocks can be seen in various places along the route.

The Tramway was in use for a little over a century, last used in 1913 and formally closed in 1915. R B Schofield in his biography of Benjamin Outram describes the tramway system as being "well ahead of its time" and "a milestone in transport technology and a model for the modern railway systems which followed thirty years later."

By road: On A514 is 16km (10 miles) south of Derby and 6.5 km (4 miles) south of the A50. Ticknall Arch, one of the tramway bridges, crosses the A514 in the centre of the village. Other parts of the tramway can be traced within and to the west of Calke Abbey Park - access from A514 and B5006 in Ticknall village. South of Old Parks, the tramway was replaced by a standard gauge railway in 1874 and is less traceable.


Calderbank, Gerry, Canal, Coal & Tramway: An Introduction to the Industrial Heritage of Mamble, L C Promotions, ASIN: B0019ZH4XQ (2000)

Holt, Geoffrey, The Ticknall Tramway, Ticknall Preservation and Historical Society, ASIN: B001TJP3XU (2002)

Schofield, R.B., Benjamin Outram 1764-1805 - An Engineering Biography, Merton Priory Press, ISBN-10: 1898937427 (2000)

Stabb, I. & Downing, T., The Redlake Tramway and the China Clay Industry, T. Downing, ASIN: B001OJUK6A (1977)

Webb, John Stanley, Black Country Tramways: Company-worked Tramways and Light Railways of the West Midlands Industrial Area: 1913-39, J S Webb, ISBN-10: 0950376418 (1976) 

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