Richard gave an informative, engaging and entertaining overview of the history of the Light Railway (Passenger and Freight) which ran from 1925 to 1950. The talk was supported by lots of powerful photos of the route, engines, carriages, local industrial sites such as quarries and social occasions. The audience appreciated the detailed description of General Jackson's Clay Cross Company, which was huge in its day, being the largest company in Europe at one point. It was interesting to hear that thousands of visitors flocked to Ashover for their “holiday” from Clay Cross and to see photos and technical drawings of the End of the Rainbow Cafe.
Richard explained, in layman's terms, some of the complexity and engineering challenges of building the railway, which was an impressive undertaking and built on a very tight budget using reclaimed parts and spares from elsewhere. Sadly, though very well used, it was not maintained and fell into dis-repair, eventually being superseded by lorries and passenger buses.
After a brief break, Richard concluded his talk with an account of the Ashover Light Railway Society and their ambitions to reconstruct the Cafe, for which they have all the parts and drawings. This would make an excellent museum and education centre as well as a cafe. Ideally, this would be at Ashover Butts but they are also looking at recreating a section of railway at Rowsley.
Fantastic talk. Very enjoyable. Nice company and refreshments. Well worth coming to.
Lovely to have such a knowledgeable speaker who is passionate about this subject.