Nottingham Suburban Railway

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Nottingham Suburban Railway
GNR 'Back Line'
Ashwell's Tunnel
Sherwood Tunnel
St Ann's Well
Thorneywood Tunnel
Bluebell Hill Tunnel
to Nottingham
to Netherfield
(London Road)

The Nottingham Suburban Railway was a 3-mile-52-chain (3.65 mi; 5.9 km) long railway line serving the north-eastern suburbs of Nottingham. It was opened in August 1889 and closed in 1954.[1] It ran from Trent Lane junction in Sneinton, about two-thirds of a mile to the east of the Great Northern Railway's then terminus at London Road, through to the same company's Derbyshire and Staffordshire Extension line at Daybrook, passing through three stations and four tunnels en route.

Although the Nottingham Suburban Railway Company was independent, the line was operated from the outset by the GNR, to which the line was later leased.


The company was granted powers to build the line in June 1886. Construction work started a year later, and took two years to complete. Significant civil engineering works were necessary due to the topography of the area; even so, the line had some steep gradients of up to 1 in 50. The quality of construction and the choice of blue bricks led to a number of the line's structures surviving in good condition with minimal maintenance, in contrast to earlier GNR lines in the area.

The line was built with three main aims in mind. Firstly, the line served goods traffic, principally from three brickworks situated along its length. The line's two other raisons d'être proved short-lived. Its aim of providing a shorter route into Nottingham for trains from the Derbyshire and Staffordshire Extension was rendered largely obsolete by the Great Central Railway's construction of an even more direct route (along with a more central terminus) just ten years later, whilst the rapid expansion of Nottingham Corporation Tramways' network of electric tram services from 1901 lured a large proportion of passengers away from the three suburban stations on the line: Sherwood, St Ann's Well and Thorney Wood.

The passenger stations were closed in 1916, apart from the brief reopening of Sherwood and Thorneywood stations for special event traffic in 1928. In 1925 the line saw a brief surge of activity as a diversionary route when part of Mapperley Tunnel collapsed. In 1930 the route was reduced from double- to single-track. In 1941 the southern end of the line was closed, due to wartime bomb damage to embankments, which were never repaired. Freight workings continued to serve the brickworks, and the oil storage depot[citation needed] which took over the site of one of them, from the northern end of the line.

The final freight workings took place in 1951, and most of the line was dismantled in 1954. This was not without incident, with a part of the girder bridge near Trent Lane junction being dropped onto the Nottingham to Lincoln Line, obstructing the latter for seven hours.


Bridge where the Nottingham Suburban Railway passed under Woodthorpe Drive.

Much of the route has been obliterated by redevelopment, but some structures remain, including the brick arch bridge over Trent Lane, and the former station houses at St Ann's Well and Thorneywood. Part of Bluebell Hill Tunnel in Sneinton found a new use as a rifle range.


  1. ^ The Railway magazine. IPC Business Press. 1969. p. 237. Retrieved 1 October 2012.


  • Reed, Hayden (2007). The Rise & Fall of Nottingham's Railway Network : Volume 1 — Lines in the City. Book Law Publications. ISBN 1-901945-70-7.
  • Birch, David G. (2010). The Story of the Nottingham Suburban Railway : Volume 1 — Conception, Construction, Commencement. Book Law Publications. ISBN 978-1-907094-98-9.
  • Birch, David G. (2012). The Story of the Nottingham Suburban Railway : Volume 2 — The Operational Years. Book Law Publications. ISBN 978-1-907094-36-1.

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