All photographs courtesy of Andy York, British Railway Modelling Magazine
The Story Behind The Model
Longnor really exists. It is a small village about as far north as you can go in Staffordshire. It is surrounded by gorgeous countryside. Not far away is Hulme End, terminus of the Leek & Manifold Railway.
However, if Longnor really exists, the railway never did. The model assumes that a rival company to the Leek & Manifold Railway constructed a railway to a gauge of 2’4” which was to link Leek (using the standard gauge station) with Buxton. Unsurprisingly, it was called The Leek & Buxton Railway.
The model further assumes that the Leek and Buxton line was constructed in the early years of the twentieth century. It made use of coaches and locomotives which, in the main, were of designs used much further south on the Lynton & Barnstaple Railway.
The route this fictitious railway followed between Leek and Longnor, via Shining Ford, completed in 1904, was demanding and cost much more than had been estimated, with earthworks, bridges and even tunnels being required where surveys had suggested they would not be. Despite vigorous advertising, extolling the virtue of the Midland Alps(!), tourists never came in the huge numbers expected by the railway’s directors and on which they had based their business plan. A southern ”loop” was added in 1912 which gave an alternative route between Longnor and Merryton Low (a point half way to Leek), going via Reaps Moor. This was done to take the line closer to populated areas and to encourage population growth. However, there was little population and such as there was did not grow as the directors had hoped. It remained sparsely populated agricultural countryside with difficult terrain. The new line cost much more to build than estimated, attracted no extra income and, indeed, contributed to larger losses. The money ran out and the railway never got beyond Longnor. Its end came with the outbreak of the Second World War.
Throughout its life, it carried passengers and conveyed general goods, coal and livestock along the two routes. It served no industries, mines or quarries and, as observed before, the tourists never came in any great numbers.
The model shows the Longnor terminus in around 1935.
Any Longnor exhibition bookings are shown in our Events Calendar page.
You can download a copy of the Exhibition Manager’s details for this layout if you click here.
Owner: Hugh Williams