Wollaton Waggonway (Wagonway)
NGR given is position of shallow cutting at rear of Strelley Hall.
The Wollaton Wagonway (or Waggonway) was built between October 1603 and 1604 by Huntingdon Beaumont in collaboration with Sir Percival Willoughby and is currently credited as the world's first overland wagonway. As such it is therefore regarded as a significant step in the development of railways.
The wagonway was one of the earliest forms of railway along with those developed for use in mines. Historians are unsure as to how it evolved but it is known that between the Autumn of 1603 and 1 October 1604, a waggonway (wagonway) had been built near Nottingham, running for approximately two miles (3 km) from Strelley to Wollaton to carry coal. Earlier examples may have been built, but the Wollaton Wagonway is the earliest on record and is therefore believed to have been the first. It was built by Huntingdon Beaumont who was the partner of Sir Percival Willoughby, the local land-owner and builder of Wollaton Hall.
“alonge the passage now laide with railes, and with suche or the lyke Carriages as are now in use for the purpose.”
The above is from Sir Percival Willoughby's agreement with Huntingdon Beaumont dated 1 October 1604.
Sir Percival was Lord of the Manor of Wollaton and Huntingdon Beaumont was the lessee of the Strelley coal pits. They worked the Strelley mines in an equal partnership.
Comparatively little is known of the wagonway. It cost £172 and ended at Wollaton Lane End, from where most of the coal was taken onwards by road to Trent Bridge and then downstream on the River Trent by barge.
The wagons or carriages were drawn by horses on sawn wooden rails, thought to be 6 feet long with transverse sleepers which were halfed logs.
The Strelley mines were worked until about 1620, when it is thought that all readily recoverable coal had probably been mined by use of bell pits, surface quarries or shallow connected mines (likely to have been drained by a sough). The wagonway was presumably abandoned at this point.
The success of the Wollaton Wagonway is thought to have led to Huntingdon Beaumont building other wagonways for his other mining interests around Blyth in Northumberland.
Thus a continuous evolution of railways can be traced back to the Wollaton Wagonway.
Various theories have been offered as to the routes taken but it seems most likely that the route was along Coach Road in Wollaton out to the North East to the Coal pits around Strelley village and to the NE of Strelley Hall. The route seems to have passed East Strelley village gently curving NW to the rear of Strelley Hall where it turns Nth.