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LNWR Water Tender

Acquired for the railway in August 2004, this bowser was donated to EVRA from the National Collection by the National Railway Museum for restoration and display. It was built to act as a water tanker for the Cromford and High Peak Railway (now the High Peak Trail) and to service the small and remote settlements, where there was no mains water, along the line. It is thought to have been built around 1894 using a former LNWR Webb tender.


The Association would like to restore it to act as a remote water source when running steam locomotive services between Wirksworth and Duffield.

It is a unique piece of rolling stock as it is the only one in existence which has three axles as others were converted to a two-axle configuration. It is also a local artefact as it originally worked in the local area before the days of preservation.

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Local history of water traffic on the London and North Western Railway

Up until 1967, carrying water by rail was once a daily occurrence on the Cromford & High Peak (C&HP) and the Buxton to Ashbourne sections of the London & North Western Railway (LNWR).

These lines ran over the hills of the Derbyshire Dales, and whilst the area was well watered, the water trickled through the fissures in the many limestone deposits in the area until it was caught in pockets in the limestone and was not easy to extract for use by the local people.

The northern section of the C&HP from Buxton (Ladmanlow) to Whaley Bridge ran through a geological area of gritstone where the water became more accessible. This allowed the water, which was required by the steam locomotives, to be obtained and transported by the Ladmanlow water tank by rail until the opening of the Buxton to Parsley Hay line in 1894, which came with its own reliable water column at Hindlow.

Another spring located at Cromford Wharf supplied around 100 tanks worth of water a month to several places.

These include:

  • Sheep-pasture Top and Middleton Top for the locomotive sheds and winding engine for the incline located there.

  • Industrial use at Intake Quarry

  • The incline winding engine at Hopton Top up until 1880 and for domestic use.

  • Domestic use at Parsley Hay, Hurdlow Bottom, Hartington and Alsop-en-le-dale

The railway houses at Parsley Hay and Hartington were some of the last places to require water. A set of ramps at Longcliffe and Hurdlow Top were used by the water tankers which would enable them to supply water to the steam locomotives there. Water trains ran until 5th September 1967 after all other traffic had stopped on the 2nd January that same year.

Water tanks were either specially built on old steam locomotive tender frames or else were actually old tenders which were suitably adapted. Tender frames which initially were fitted with six wheels had the middle axle removed to allow the tankers to go round tighter bends. Those locomotive tenders which were operated by the Midland railway did not have their middle axle removed until the early 1960s. At the front end of these tenders, a buffer beam with buffers and draw hook was fitted along with a handrail for shunters.

Originally there were a series of tanks which were numbered between 1 and 19. This was then discontinued when all subsequent tanks which were adaptations of locomotive tenders all bore either their LNWR or LMS tender number plates which they were known by. 

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