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From Carlisle and Old Cumberland
From Carlisle and Old Cumberland
Laurie Kemp tells the stories of seventeen men and one woman who came from Carlisle and Old Cumberland. They are: George Moore, John Losh, Jonathan Boucher, the Duke of Norfolk, Thomas Bouch, Janet Woodrow, Martin Tallents, Henry Scott Sawyer, William George Armstrong, John Robertson Scott, Arthur C. Astor, Robert Anderson, John Heysham, Josiah Relph, Joseph Simpson, James Wallace, John Taylor and Robert Bowman.
148mm x 210mm paperback
Black & white photographs
Sir Thomas Bouch was born in the Ship Inn in Thursby, in 1825. He was the son of a sea captain turned publican, which is how this inland pub gets its name.
As a young lad he had worked his way up. He served his apprenticeship as an engineer on the Carlisle and Lancaster Railway. He went on to design the Cockermouth, Keswick and Penrith railway lines and the line that ran along the Eden valley. He was resident engineer on the Stockton and Darlington Railway and then became Manager and Engineer on the Edinburgh and Northern Railway.
In the great days of Victorian engineering, when the great engineer was a great celebrity, Thomas Bouch was at the top of his profession.
When a railway bridge across the estuary of the River Tay to Dundee was mooted, Thomas Bouch was the man for the job. Fifty piers supported a bridge across two miles of turbulent waters. The first stone was laid on July 7th, 1871, and the bridge opened eight years later on May 31st, 1878. Almost four and a half million bricks, three and half thousand tons of cast iron and ninety thousand feet of timber had been needed to carry the railway across the Tay to Dundee.
Bouch was made a freeman of the City of Dundee. Queen Victoria and the Prince of Wales crossed the bridge. Plain Thomas Bouch of the Ship Inn, Thursby, became Sir Thomas Bouch.
A year later, on a bitter December night, all was brought to nought. The bridge was wrenched apart by gale-force winds. A train was cast into the turbulent waters. All seventy-five passengers were killed. It was an engineering disaster on an unprecedented scale.
When the official inquiry came out, the Carlisle Patriot reported: “Our townsman Sir Thomas Bouch gets a terribly severe handling in the report. Never, probably, was there a more emphatic condemnation of a great work of engineering.” That report didn’t mince its words: “For the faulty design Sir Thomas Bouch is wholly responsible, and he is principally to blame for the defective construction.”
Thomas Bouch died a year later, a broken man.
Thomas Bouch is one of eighteen worthies whose exceptional lives have been recorded by Laurie Kemp. Some were great men, famed throughout the country.
George Moore of Wigton was a great industrialist and famed for his charitable work during the siege of Paris.
Joseph Simpson was a leading society artist of his day. He was commissioned to paint the restless King George V as he sat in the Royal Box at Epsom.
John Robertson Scott was born to poor parents in Wigton, but went on to be one of the country’s leading journalists and founder of the Countryman Magazine, which became an institution in its own right.
Jonathan Boucher of Blencogo was a minister in Virginia and a close friend of George Washington, even though they found themselves on opposite during the War of Independence.
Josiah Relph of Sebergham and Robert Anderson, born below West Walls, in Carlisle, made names for themselves by writing verse in Cumberland dialect and celebrating the lives of ordinary people.
James Wallace from Brampton became Attorney General, Dr John Heysham was an important medical pioneer and Arthur C Astor of Silloth a great theatrical impresario.
Others have lesser claims to fame. John Taylor and Robert Bowman deserve our attention because of their sheer persistence. By all accounts, John Taylor of Garrigill took his time. He was born in 1637, but it was sixty years before he got married and a full 135 years before he died.
Laurie Kemp provides a lively account of the lives of some of the lesser known people who have led interesting or distinguished lives in the days of old Cumberland.
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