Butterley Gangroad also known as Crich Rail-way was built in 1793. It was one of the earliest Derbyshire Railways and the first to be built by Benjamin Outram. The first steam locomotive was also used there in 1813. A group of local people formed the Butterley Gangroad Project of Derbyshire Archaeological Society in 2013 to research the railway supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
This type of railway had cast iron rails, and waggons were often pulled by horses or used gravity and counter balance on inclines. They were used to bring coal and minerals to the canals to improve transport in areas where canals weren’t economical. There were many such lines linking with the Cromford Canal.
Benjamin Outram was born in Alfreton and his father had a small foundry in Ripley. He trained as a surveyor and worked for William Jessop on the Cromford Canal. He created the famous Butterley Works near Ripley to make use of the local iron and coal reserves. He was interested in plateways, early railways which used “L” shaped rails and waggons with flangeless wheels, and improved the concept to allow heavier loads to be carried. Trains of waggons could be pulled by teams or “gangs” of horses which was much more economical. The Butterley Company exported railway technology all over the country.
The first of these rail-ways, which was about a mile long, is at Crich, and ran between a limestone quarry established by the Butterley Company there and a wharf on the Cromford Canal at Bullbridge. In 2015 the Butterley Gangroad Project published the above book of their research including a section reviewing documents in our collection at Derbyshire Record Office. The work also contains plans, photographs and other details of their research and they have donated copies to Derbyshire Libraries.
If you would like to see which Derbyshire libraries have a copy apart from ourselves, or request a copy you can do so here