Monday, 15 June 2015

The Silloth Line

In the nineteenth century, north-west Cumberland was served by three different railway companies.
The line to Silloth opened in 1855 when the old canal to Port Carlisle was filled in. It followed the line of the canal as far as Drumbrugh and new tracks were laid to what was a completely new town and port.
By 1900, Silloth had a large goods yard and a station with a platform long enough to accommodate the busiest excursion trains.
In the 1920s and 30s, after the line became part of the LNER, cheap Day Trips from Carlisle were very popular. On Bank Holidays the trains were packed and the green crowded with visitors.
The company advertised the resort throughout its network and provided special camping coaches for family holidays.
Some Silloth railwaymen
After World War II, day-trips from Carlisle were still very popular but general traffic on the route was much reduced and very little freight was carried.
In 1954, the steam engines were replaced by new diesel units.
The goods yard was used to store redundant trucks and emergency supplies of coal.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

The End of the Line

In 1963, Dr Beeching's plan for 'The Reshaping of British Railways' was published and the Silloth line was one of those scheduled for closure.
Cartoon from the 'Carlisle Journal'. Willie Whitelaw was the local MP.
After the formal procedures were completed, it was announced the line would close on September 7th, 1964.
The excursion train at Silloth signal box. (Photo: Gordon Akitt)
Just a few weeks before this, a special steam excursion was organised by a group of railway enthusiasts.
On the last day of operations, Jimmy Piercy, the British Transport Police officer was in charge at Silloth.
The diesel train was replaced by a steam locomotive. Jimmy Lister (left) from Carlisle was the driver, Archie Brand (right) was the guard and Mike Bulman the fireman.
The platform at Silloth was crowded with people waiting to say 'good-bye'.
The train had to halt outside the station as the line was blocked by a group of protesters organised by Kate Roberts, the prospective Labour candidate for the constituency.
Finally, the police cleared the line and the train pulled in.
Dusk was falling as the train left for Carlisle arriving there at 9.30pm.
Next day, the station was emptied of its furniture and work began on lifting the tracks.

Pictures of the last train courtesy of Judith Warmsley. 
Click on any picture for a larger version.