Arts and Literature
Countryside and Nature
New Fiction and Bestselling Fiction
New UK Titles
Pre - Publication Orders
Top Children's UK
Top Biography and History UK
Top Non Fiction UK
View All Titles
Cumbria's Lost Railways
Cumbria's Lost Railways
Peter W. Robinson
A fascinating history of railways past in the county, with information on Alston - Haltwhistle, Carlisle - Edinburgh, Gretna - Longtown, Penrith - Workington, and many more, with lists of all stations now closed.
Carlisle remains a major railway centre, but, in railway terms, it is a mere shadow of its former self. A hundred years ago an intricate weave of steel track criss-crossed as seven railway companies and eight lines sought to find their way through the Border City. A misty picture of Dentonholme North Junction illustrates the complex matrix of lines. There are no less than twelve railway tracks radiating outwards towards Dixon's chimney and the other silhouetted buildings of the city. The lines curve and twist across each other and a forest of signals was needed to regulate the traffic.
Railways were equally important in the rest of the county. In this new book of photographs Peter Robinson considers that 'Inland from the coastal route in West Cumberland there developed one of the most intensive local railway networks seen anywhere in the country.' Within the basic grid of the major lines that led round the coast and through the Pennines there were numerous lines that served local industries and villages.
One of the most famous was the line that ran from Annan (Shawhill) to Brayton Junction near Aspatria. It ran across The Solway Viaduct, which when it was built in 1869, was the longest viaduct in Europe. It stretched for over one mile two hundred yards across the strong tidal waters of the Solway. It carried trains for a mere 62 years and was demolished in 1934. Now little remains of this massive structure save for a grass embankment that projects from the Solway shore at Bowness.
But once there was a working station at Bowness. The train belonging to Caledonian Railways would make its way along the 15.5 miles of line. Passengers would wait beneath the wooden shelter built tight up against the stationmaster's house. At the back of the platform an old railway carriage served as the station office and a white fence carried adverts for Pears soap and Lipton's Tea.
The line was destined for failure almost from its inception. It was built to carry hematite iron ore from West Cumberland to the blast furnaces of Lanarkshire. By taking its bold route across the Solway it would cut out the journey through Carlisle and save a shilling a ton. Unfortunately, almost as soon as the line was opened, blast furnaces were built to smelt the ore locally and the trade almost disappeared. To make matters worse, the viaduct was almost destroyed by ice flows in the Solway during the bitter January of 1881.
Peter Robinson's book is unashamedly nostalgic for these old lines, for these enterprises that were once so vital to the county's economy, but which are now barely visible. Alston was once a hive of activity with horses and carts waiting to take goods from the railway sheds on the Haltwhistle line. Wagons loaded with ore ran along the steep line from Arlecdon to Distington. Passengers caught the train between Calva Junction and Seaton. And signals at Longtown ushered trains along the line through Scotch Dyke, Riddings Junction, Penton and Kershopefooton the journey to Portobello in Edinburgh. A railway that was a mere three and a quarter miles long ran from Longtown to Gretna, but the station, one of three in Gretna, closed on 9th August, 1915.
Cumbria was busy with railways. Uniformed men stood on railway platforms. Platelayers were busy repairing track and trains steamed their way through the valleys and across the moorland. Peter Robinson's book is an evocative look at the days when steam was king in the counties of Cumberland and Westmoreland. - Steve Matthews, Bookcase.
DVDs & CDs