The History of Rail & Iron Core

We are an open-air Museum based in the heart of the rural Midlands where the now extinct industry of home iron ore production for railways is preserved for visitors.

The industrial revolution and the subsequent development of the British economy relied on the presence of a number of basic raw materials, notably coal and iron ore.

The history of coal production in Britain is now widely recorded and recreated in a number of dedicated industrial museums located across England, Wales and Scotland, often located in the heartlands of the former coalfields.

The History That Began The Railway

As recently as 1957, home production of iron ore was around 16 million tons per annum and the industry employed up to 5,500 people. This activity took place in otherwise rural areas of the East Midlands for generations of workers and where industrial scale production operated in relative harmony with the surrounding agricultural activity, the other major local employer.

Our Museum sets out to preserve and recreate the essential elements of a typical East Midlands ironstone quarrying operation as it may have been seen in its heyday during the 1950’s or 1960’s but with some additional artefacts and exhibits.

This is a living museum in which the social history, working practices and skills are as much valued as the use of original equipment in an authentic working environment.

Our central aim is to provide our visitors and volunteers with the opportunity to witness these historic activities “first-hand”.

We hope that you will enjoy these interesting and thought provoking experiences while you are visiting our Museum.

Our ambition is to offer you authentic sights, sounds and images to give you a far more valuable insight into these historic industrial endeavours.

It is after all, a valuable heritage that we all share.

One of the most exciting projects in recent years has been the recreation of a rail connected ironstone quarry within the Museum where we now offer “experience tours” led by knowledgeable guides on operating days and where our collection of operational quarry machinery can often be seen in action.

Our development plans include completion of our rural mineral railway, from quarry to exchange sidings, and to include engineering workshops and other specific and unique features found throughout the industry.

In the current “post-industrial age”, we believe that it is important that the endeavours of our predecessors are recorded and that the opportunity to understand their economic and social contribution to history is available to a wide community.

Our Museum has been established to allow this specific area of history to be discovered by visitors.

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