The Cromford and High Peak Railway by J.D. Marshall

Why this book was published as a 64-page paperback instead of in the publisher’s “Standard Railway History” series is not known. This paperback is set in two columns; and the shortest of the D&C standard histories I possess runs to 124 pages, so this should have been easily achievable. And the story would deserve it; although the C&HPR faded into obscurity for much of its operating life, it played an important part in both the early development of railways in the UK (representing an engineering interim stage between the canal – having originally been planned as one – with long level sections between flights of locks, or in this case, rope-worked inclines, and the full-blown railway, with varying gradients operated by powerful locomotives) and the railway politics of the nineteenth century, representing the various attempts to cross the southern Pennines between the Midlands and Manchester, and the inter-company rivalries that resulted.

Even in its long, uneventful life, it remained notable for the bleakness of the country it traversed, and also in having the steepest adhesion-worked incline in the country, the 1 in 14 Hopton Incline. In the closing years of steam, it became something of a magnet for enthusiasts, yet its history has only really been covered in booklets and it is difficult to understand quite why this should be so.

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