|Middleton Top Engine House|
Another beautiful spring day tempted me on another walk on the High Peak Trail. This footpath and bridleway follows to line of the dismantled Cromford and High Peak Railway. The first part of the railway was built in 1830 to a design by Josiah Jessop, the son of the canal engineer William Jessop. It was clear that a canal would be impossible over the terrain so a tramway was built. This was to connect the Cromford Canal near Matlock with the Peak Forest Canal at Whaley Bridge. There were several steep inclines on the tramway, the one at Middleton is 1 in 8½, too steep for the horse drawn trams or for their later replacements, steam locomotives. Instead a stationary steam engine was built at the top of the incline which pulled the wagons up by a cable. The tramway was laid to standard gauge (4' 8½") and the first steam engine was assigned in 1841, The "Peak" built by Robert Stephenson. Astonishingly, the line was still in operation up to 1963!
The engine house at Middleton Top still houses the original pair of beam engines, built in 1829, and both have been restored to full working condition by the Middleton Top Engine and Leawood Pump Group and can be seen in operation on certain dates through the year. They are the oldest working rotative beam engines in the world in working order and in their original site.