Many audacious and improbable schemes for new railways were dreamed up in the nineteenth century, but surely none matched the plan to link the Cromford Canal with the Peak Forest Canal at Whaley Bridge in Derbyshire using a series of rope-worked inclines. This railway oddity opened in 1831 and somehow survived almost unnoticed until 1967, when there was a flurry of publicity when it closed. The line weaved its way through some of the finest scenery in England and was dotted with crazy gradients and whiplash curves. Here was the steepest normal railway in Britain and the only place where you could see a gradient post saying `1 in 8.' It also used steam right to the end, by which time it had outlived many more illustrious undertakings.
John Evans visited the line many times in its later years, his camera nearly always loaded with priceless colour film. His pictures are published here for the first time, giving a unique view of a railway which was full of intrigue and history.
Popular today with walkers and cyclists, the route of the Cromford & High Peak Railway refuses to die.
Having a father who ran a shop selling model railways probably sealed the fate of John Evans as a railway enthusiast. Spending all his money - and rather too much of his time - amassing a collection of railway pictures, he fortunately stored them carefully away. 'My education was undertaken at Northampton engine shed,' he jokes. He now lives in West Yorkshire and still ventures regularly to the lineside.