The railway through Attenborough was built by the Midland Counties Railway (MCR). This was the culmination of efforts by Erewash Valley coal owners to supply their coal more cheaply to Leicester than the Coalville owners. The first line to open, in 1839, was from Nottingham to Derby and the official opening was a massive occasion on 29th May – 500 invited guests were entertained at Nottingham by the band of the 5th Dragoon Guards. ‘God Save the Queen’ was played as each of the four trains departed, whilst ‘See, the Conqu’ring Hero Comes’ greeted their return. Public services soon began, but not from Attenborough until 1856, when Attenborough Gate opened – closing due to poor patronage in 1858 but reopening in 1864 as Attenborough Station.
The Leicester line opened in 1840 and the Erewash Valley eventually got its line in 1847. The present Nottingham, Derby and Leicester rail network, except for a minor diversion at Trent Junction, still operates over its original route.
In 1844 the MCR had merged with the North Midland Railway and the Birmingham and Derby Junction Railway to form the Midland Railway (MR). These lines met at Derby, where the MR established its Headquarters, along with locomotive, carriage and wagon works – industries which still exist today. The engineering and upholstery businesses in Long Eaton are in part a legacy of carriage building in the past. The MR expanded rapidly during the 19th century, most of its profits coming from coal haulage.
Jim Crabtree, Mike Hammond, Alan Dance, Phil Davison