Maryport History (click here for home page)

Railway Maryport and Carlisle 1837 – 1939

by Jack Simmons THE OAKWOOD LIBRARY OF RAILWAY HISTORY - No. 4 published in 1947

Maryport And Carlisle Railway Front Cover

Front Inside Cover text:
The Maryport and Carlisle railway. to quote Professor Simmons’ closing words. was

“a perfect specimen of the small independent local railway company. That type virtually disappeared in England with the amalgamation of 1923: to us in 1947. on the eve of nationalisation. it seems to belong to the remote Victorian past.”

One of the most prosperous of all British railway companies. it was built chiefly to develop the coalfield through which it ran. and its story is told here in close relation to the rise and decline of the West Cumberland coal and iron trade. This essay is based on a careful study of contemporary material. much of which is now inaccessible or destroyed.

An appendix gives a list of all the locomotives owned by the company in chronological order of their building. With Eleven Illustrations and Three Maps


The history of the Maryport and Carlisle railway presents three points of special interest. In the first place, it was a purely local line. It had from the beginning one great purpose, to develop the northern part of the West Cumberland coalfield, and that remained its chief function throughout the eighty-five years of its life. It never attempted to expand: yet neither was it absorbed by any of its larger neighbours. Secondly, it was run entirely by the local gentry and coal owners. They projected the company and they always controlled it-except during a freakish interlude of fifteen months, when it was in the hands of Hudson, the Railway King. And they made a very good thing out of it, too. For the third feature of its history, and the most remarkable, was its steady, unfailing prosperity. From 1850 to 1922, through good times and bad, it paid an average dividend of over 7 per cent. In the high seventies it touched a maximum of 13 per cent. Only three British railway companies, the Taff Vale, the Barry, and the Rhymney, showed a better record.

Maryport And Carlisle Railway Coat Of Arms

Origin and Purpose of the Railway

The West Cumberland coalfield is about 108 square miles in area, stretching in a north-easterly direction from St. Bees to Bolton Low Houses, some five miles south-west of Wigton. The Maryport and Carlisle railway served the northern part of the coalfield, from Maryport inland up the valley of the river Ellen, and, further to the south, the collieries in the parishes of Dovenby and Dearham.

Though the West Cumberland coalfield was known to exist in the Middle Ages, it does not seem to have been worked before the sixteenth century; and it was not systematically developed until the reign of Charles II, when Sir John Lowther (d. 1701) began to open up mines round Whitehaven. In the northern district, we know that coal was worked near Mealsgate as early as 1567, and from about 1680 onwards a series of pits was sunk round Oughterside, on the right bank of the Ellen about halfway between Aspatria and Bullgill. The coal from Oughterside was carried down, probably by pack-horses, to Allonby, where it was shipped. Ref 1

Early in the eighteenth century, two new groups of collieries began to be worked: those at Ellenborough, Ewanrigg, and Dearham, near the mouth of the Ellen, and those at Gilcrux, on the opposite bank of the river to Oughterside. But the development of this part of the coalfield was seriously hindered by the lack of a convenient harbour for shipping the coal. (In those days, it must be remembered, virtually all coal was carried by sea.) Allonby was a wretched roadstead, exposed and inadequate: there was no port nearer than Workington. The proprietor of one of these collieries, Mr. Humphrey Senhouse of Netherhall, accordingly determined to construct a harbour on his own land at the mouth of the ElIen. He began work in the seventeen-fifties, and he called the town Maryport in honour of his wife. When he died in 1770, it was well established, quickly becoming the capital of the whole of the northern part of the coalfield, with a flourishing export trade in coal to Ireland, imports of timber, flax, and iron from the Baltic, fishing-fleets of its own, three shipbuilding yards, and two markets a week. In 1801 its population was 2932; in 1831, 3877 Ref 2

Canal Projects

In the middle of the eighteenth century the Broughton Colliery company built a ‘framed waggon-way’ of wood to convey their coal from Broughton pits to the Arches near Ewanrigg Hall, whence it was taken in carts to Maryport for shipment. This is the earliest recorded appearance of a railway in the district. Ref 3

Meanwhile, in the great canal boom of the seventeen nineties, plans were brought forward for a canal between Newcastle and Maryport by way of Carlisle. Reports were published on it in I 795 and 1796 by three distinguished engineers, Ralph Dodd, William Chapman, and William Jessop. The primary purpose of the canal was to increase the trade between Newcastle and Ireland-the export of Tyne coal, the import of Irish linen and agricultural produce. But it was also designed to benefit the city of Carlisle, which was then an important centre of textile manufactures, only just beginning to lose way to Lancashire competition. The canal would also have helped to develop the West Cumberland coalfield and it would have turned Maryport at once into a great port, the rival of Whitehaven. After three years of effort by its backers, however, the project came to nothing. It was revived in 1807 and 1817, again without success. Ref 4

On the failure of the last attempt, the citizens of Carlisle determined to secure access to the sea for themselves, if not at Maryport then by means of a shorter canal to a harbour on the Solway Firth. As a result, the Carlisle canal was built, under an Act of 1819. It was eleven miles long, running from the west side of the city to Port Carlisle, a little east of Bowness, and it was opened in 1823. Still more important, a railway was promoted between Newcastle and Carlisle. It secured its Act in 1829, and the railway was built along almost exactly the same route as that proposed for the canal of 1795. The first section of the line was opened in March 1835. It was completed in May 1839. Ref 5

Loco 2 4 0 Number 10 Of 1878 After Rebuilding
Loco 2 4 0 Number 10 Of 1878 After Rebuilding

George Stephenson’s Survey

One of the main purposes of the Newcastle and Carlisle railway was to afford improved communication between Newcastle and Whitehaven; and in 1836 a company was formed to continue the railway south-westwards from Carlisle. George Stephenson was engaged as the engineer. It was very soon decided, no doubt on grounds of economy, to run the line from Carlisle to Maryport only. In order to enlist support for this scheme, the promoters issued in 1837 an Exposition of the Traffic Actual and Prospective on the line of the Maryport and Carlisle Railway, to which they appended George Stephenson’s technical report. The Exposition began by stating that the railway would pass

‘through a country abounding in coal, lime, stone, slate and other minerals; already to a considerable extent advanced in manufactures, and teeming with agricultural produce and industrious population’.

 But its importance would be more than local: it would join with the Newcastle and Carlisle and the Brandling Junction companies to form

‘a direct Railway communication . . . between the Irish Channel and the German Ocean’.

And owing to the favourable nature of the ground it could be built extremely cheaply, say at a cost of £6,500 a mile.

There followed a detailed estimate of the expected revenue, based on the existing volume of trade in the district. The total annual receipts were put at £35,544. 16s. 11d., of which the revenue from passenger traffic accounted for more than half. With due allowance for the working and maintenance of the line and for contingencies, the Exposition claimed that the proprietors might confidently look for a dividend of 18¾ per cent every year. And this figure might well be exceeded.

The original estimate of receipts for the Newcastle and Carlisle railway had already proved far too low; other types of traffic would be carried by the Maryport and Carlisle company, of which no estimate could yet be formed, such as lead from America, Ireland, and Liverpool, Irish linen and pigs, fire-bricks (‘ the quality of which is very superior’) from Maryport; a share in the coal and slate trade to and from Penrith might be expected; and passengers would be carried ‘to the Sea Coast for bathing, to Liverpool, Whitehaven, the Isle of Man, and Ireland’.

George Stephenson made his preliminary survey of the line in August 1836. * His report to the projectors, dated the following 12 October, is characteristically clear and sober. It lays stress on the level nature of the country, estimating that no gradient worse than I in 230 would be necessary # and it urges the continuation of the line to Whitehaven. It also points out that the Maryport and Carlisle railway would enjoy two special advantages: that the gradients would be in favour of the loaded coal-trains travelling from the pits near Bullgill to the coast; and that

‘ the nature of the country is such that it will not admit of any other line ever being made to compete with it; it must, therefore, ever remain the thoroughfare through that part of Cumberland ‘.

With such expectations, the projectors applied to Parliament in 1837 for powers to construct the railway. They obtained them without difficulty, though not entirely without opposition from local landowners.: By the Act (I Vict. cap. ci) they were authorised to build a line from the town of Maryport to a junction with the Newcastle and Carlisle railway at Bogfield in the city of Carlisle (clause 3), and for this purpose to raise a capital of £180,000 in £50 shares (clause 89), together, if necessary, with a further £60,000 to be obtained from a mortgage of the undertaking (clause III).

The Act presented few unusual features. By clause 17, if anyone complained that the passage of trains on the railway frightened horses on the turnpike roads, the company was to be compelled to put up a screen between the road and the railway; and by clause 186 any servant of the company found drunk was to be subject to a fine of a sum from 10 shillings to £5.

Map Maryport And Carlisle Railway Route P4

London to Glasgow line proposals
- via West Cumberland!

While the construction of the line was proceeding, a plan was put forward that might have entirely altered its future development and character. In 1839 the question of establishing railway communication between London and Scotland and Ireland was being discussed. Numerous rival routes were proposed for lines to Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Dublin.

On a motion of the House of Commons Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Frederic Smith, R.E., and Peter Barlow, Professor of Mathematics in the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich, were appointed as commissioners in November 1839 to examine the several plans and report on their relative merits.

As regards the London to Glasgow line, controversy centred on the route to be followed over the middle section, between Lancaster and Carlisle, and in particular the problem of crossing the Westmorland fells. Three proposals were put forward.

One was for a line up the valley of the Lune and thence by way of Tebay, Clifton, and Penrith.

The second was to take a parallel course a little further to the west, by Kendal, the west side of Hawes Water, and Penrith. On each of these two a tunnel was envisaged through the fells.

The third (known as the Caledonian, West Cumberland, and Furness line) was to run over Morecambe bay by a great embankment, crossing the estuary of the river Duddon and following the coast via Ravenglass and Whitehaven to Maryport, whence it was to be continued by the Maryport and Carlisle railway to Carlisle. The objections to this route were obvious: it was twenty-six miles longer than the Lune valley line and twenty-eight miles longer than that via Kendal; and the difficulty of crossing Morecambe bay was nearly as great as that presented by the fells. In its favour it was urged that its gradients were easier, that it required less tunnelling than the other routes, and that a large area of land could be reclaimed from the sea when the embankment had been built across the bay.

But the Commissioners reported decisively against it [West Cumberland route] and in favour of the Lune valley line, which was opened as the Lancaster and Carlisle railway in 1846. In their report* some interesting details are given of the methods proposed by J. U. Rastrick and John Hague, the engineers of the West Cumberland line, for carrying the railway over the sea.

Loco 0 6 0 Number 25 Built By Beyer Peacock In 1878
Loco 0 6 0 Number 25 Built By Beyer Peacock In 1878

Maryport - Carlisle - The Line Begun

The capital of the Maryport and Carlisle railway was quickly taken up; but it proved difficult to extract the full subscriptions from the shareholders when calls were made upon them (these were slump years, after the ‘Little Railway Mania’ of 1836), and by August 1840 more than half the shares had been forfeited.

In these circumstances the construction of the line was necessarily slow. Work was begun at the western end, on the section from Maryport to Arkleby Pits. George Stephenson remained the company’s engineer until November 1839, when he resigned and was replaced by John Blackmore, who was also engineer to the Newcastle and Carlisle railway. Until August 1839 Stephenson’s resident engineer was W. S. Hall. He was succeeded by John Brunton, who held the post for ten weeks only, and then by P. S. Reid. #

In these early years the management of the company seems to have been defective in almost every department. A good deal of light is thrown upon it by the case of Irving v. the Maryport and Carlisle Railway, which was referred from the Carlisle assizes to an arbitrator in 1841. William Irving was a contractor, and he sued the company for damages, alleging that he had been prevented from fulfilling his contract by the interference of its officials and their neglect to supply him with the requisite materials. The arbitrator awarded him some £3,750, a large proportion of the damages he claimed. The evidence given in the case is extremely interesting. In particular, it illustrates one general point in the early history of railways that has never been adequately stressed: the difficulties under which they were constructed, when less than 1,000 miles of line were open in the whole of Great Britain and the supply of efficient and qualified engineers was in consequence severely limited. George Stephenson was a witness on behalf of the plaintiff. The directness and authority of his evidence contrast sharply with the evasive, uncertain statements made by some of the other engineers. **

The Maryport & Carlisle Railway
– The Line Completed

Map Maryport Station And Rail Route To Elizabeth Dock And Senhouse Dock
Map Maryport Station And Rail Route To Elizabeth Dock And Senhouse Dock

The first section of the railway, from Maryport to Arkleby Pits (7 miles), was opened on 15 July 1840. Nine months later, on 12 April 1841, an extension of 1¼ miles was opened from Arkleby Pits to Aspatria. The company then turned its attention to the other end of the line. By clause 83 of the Act of incorporation, as soon as 12 miles had been completed at the Maryport end, the company was required to proceed with at least 6 miles at the Carlisle end; for though the railway was designed in the first place to serve Maryport and the coalfield, the city of Carlisle and the agricultural district round Wigton had also their claims upon it. Accordingly, on 3 May 1843, a section of 11¼ miles from Carlisle to Wigton was brought into use. The only difficult engineering work on the line was here-the embankment at Cardew Mires, near Dalston. This rested on a bog, and time had to be allowed for the foundations to settle. General Pasley, who inspected the line for the Board of Trade before its opening, is said to have particularly admired the iron skew bridge over the river Caldew near Cummersdale. The directors took a preliminary trip over the line on 1 May.

For the official opening the Newcastle and Carlisle lent the Maryport company a number of engines and carriages. The first train was driven by Blackmore (who was engineer to both companies) and hauled by the’ splendid new engine the “Star”.’ The customary dinner to celebrate the .opening was held at the King’s Arms at Wigton. The gap between the two ends of the railway was closed on to February 1845, when the 8 miles from Wigton to Aspatria were opened for traffic. The main line was completed at last.*
** Ibid., 20-23, 76.

In the meantime, powers had been obtained for the continuation of the Maryport and Carlisle line southwards to Whitehaven. This extension was built by a separate company, known as the Whitehaven Junction railway, largely promoted by the Lowthers of Whitehaven and incorporated in 1844. George Stephenson, as we have seen, had urged this extension all along, and he became engineer to the new company. The line was opened in three sections, from Maryport to Workington on 19 January 1846, from Workington to Harrington on the following 18 May, and from Harrington to Whitehaven on 19 March 1847.
According to Lewin, it was worked by the Maryport and Carlisle company , ‘as each section … became available’. I have been unable to find any good evidence to confirm this statement. Bradshaw’s Railway Manual shows that the two companies continued to have separate officers, and that in 1854 the Whitehaven Junction concluded a three years’ agreement with the Whitehaven and Furness railway, providing for a joint committee to control the working of both companies. From 1854 to 1866 these two shared secretaries and engineers. In 1866 the Whitehaven Junction was vested in the London and North Western at a fixed dividend of 10 per cent. ##

Loco 0 4 4T Number 26 Built In 1897
Loco 0 4 4T Number 26 Built In 1897

The Company in Difficulties – George Hudson’s Lease

The relations of the Maryport and Carlisle with the Newcastle and Carlisle company had from the first been close. Taken together, the railways formed that link between the east and west coasts that had been the object of the canal of 1795: the map in Scott’s Companion to the Newcastle and Carlisle Railway (1837) shows

‘the junction with the Carlisle and Maryport railway, thus uniting the German Ocean with the Irish Sea’.

There were apparently several attempts made to amalgamate the two companies, particularly in 1847, when the terms proposed by the Maryport were rejected by the Newcastle company. *

But where the Newcastle and Carlisle failed, a more formidable negotiator succeeded. In September 1848 it was announced that George Hudson had taken a lease of the two companies from the following 1 October. He agreed to guarantee the Maryport and Carlisle proprietors an annual dividend of 4 per cent. In this he was acting nominally on behalf of the York, Newcastle, and Berwick railway, of which he was chairman. But the shareholders of that company, when they met, refused to accept the lease: Hudson was just tottering to his fall, and he and his fellow directors were compelled to assume responsibility for it themselves. In the summer of 1849 he fled abroad, and for the rest of that year the Maryport company was controlled by one of his agents. It became independent again on 1 January 1850.

Thinking of the high dividends the Maryport company was to pay from 1860 onwards, Tomlinson observes that in attempting to acquire it at 4 per cent Hudson showed greater foresight than his opponents among the York, Newcastle, and Berwick shareholders. #

But it is doubtful if the Railway King had the intimate knowledge of the West Cumberland coal and iron trade necessary for forming such a judgment. It is much more probable that he was thinking, as he generally did think, in terms of railway strategy. He saw a chance of extending his empire to the west coast. The Maryport and Carlisle railway must have been to him simply the geographical continuation of the Newcastle and Carlisle: it could hardly be a very attractive speculation in itself.

George Hudson's Lease

It had already been proved in Irving’s case that the company was ill managed. In the later eighteen-forties, the difficult years after the Railway Mania, its affairs fell into hopeless confusion. An ineffective investigation into them was held in 1847. The board of directors was divided into two parties, until both factions were silenced by Hudson’s coup. Then, when the company regained its independence, the ‘opposition’ party among the directors demanded and secured a full inquiry into its management.

The chief blame for its misfortunes could not fairly be put upon Hudson, the universal scapegoat. At the half yearly meeting on 6 March 1850 the chairman reported that Hudson still owed £5,100 for interest and rent to the company, which had sent a deputation over to meet him at the Queen’s Head in Newcastle four days earlier. Hudson had then said that he had no money, but that he accepted the claim and would meet it when it fell due on I April. In the following October he still owed £3,104. £24,598 had been due from him for rent and interest during his fifteen months’ tenancy of the railway: he had by then paid £21,494. Six months later the Maryport and Carlisle chairman remarked that

‘it was only justice to Mr. Hudson to say that after all was settled he had acted as fairly and honourably in the matter as could be expected’. *

Meanwhile, the promised inquiry into the company’s affairs had been held. On 4 September 1850 a committee of investigation was appointed. At first the directors tried to insert one of their number as a member of the committee; but this was objected to, and G. W. Hardey, one of the shareholders, was put on in his place. **

Loco 0 4 2T Number 17 Built In 1865
Loco 0 4 2T Number 17 Built In 1865

The Maryport & Carlisle Railway George Hudson’s Lease

From the committee’s report it appeared that ever since the formation of the company the directors had behaved with incredible folly, if not with downright dishonesty. By 30 June 1844 they had borrowed £200,934 4s 9d without any legal authority to do so; and when the line was open throughout they bad ‘charged to capital even direction, salaries, travelling expenses, and postage’ -not to mention dividends. As a result, the committee reported to the proprietors that

 ‘with a share capital of £167,612 10s. you have a debt of different descriptions to the amount of £280,534. 1s 2d.’

Nor was it only in finance that the directors had proved their incompetence. It is shown in the report that the duties of the company’s officers were very badly defined; that one Routledge had been appointed engineer on the recommendation of a single director – there are several plain hints at patronage improperly exercised – without the least experience or qualifications for the post; that futile expenses had been incurred for station buildings at Dalston and Cummersdale (‘to the former place an old wooden house has been brought from Carlisle and erected at an expense exceeding the estimated cost of a good brick or stone building ‘); that second-class passenger fares were unreasonably high and third-class facilities miserable; that under the system of through rates in force between the Newcastle and Carlisle, the Maryport and Carlisle, the Whitehaven Junction, and the Cockermouth and Workington companies, the Maryport and Carlisle was getting far less than a fair proportion of the receipts.

The committee made two main recommendations: first, that the board of directors should be reconstituted and diminished in numbers, since ‘the directors themselves always composed a majority at the general meetings, and sometimes found themselves alone there’; and second, that an Act of Parliament should be applied for to regularise the company’s financial position.

Loco 0 4 2 Number 8 Built In 1863
Loco 0 4 2 Number 8 Built In 1863

The Committee of Investigation

The report was presented to the shareholders at an extraordinary meeting on 20 November 1850. The committee of investigation was represented by G. G. Mounsey, who took occasion to say that its members ‘altogether disclaimed any intention to impute to anyone what might be deemed dishonourable, or arguing a want of principle’. In view of the contents of the report, this appeal to let bygones be bygones was comically inept. The directors and their supporters, it is clear, were determined to make a fight for it, and ‘a long and angry discussion‘ ensued for several hours. ‘The general opinion of the meeting’, according to Herapath, ‘seemed to be that the report had been very much overdrawn, and that there was no cause for alarm.’ However, the report was in the end received, and the shareholders agreed to apply for an Act on the lines it suggested.

In due course, also, the old chairman, F. L. B. Dykes (who had held office since 1842), resigned, to be succeeded by G. W. Hartley, the chairman of the committee of investigation. Five other directors left the board at the same time and were not replaced. The old guard had been completely routed.

Herapath had some strong comments to make on the whole business in a leading article-

“it would appear that a worse state of things never was brought to light than this report has revealed to the public”.

The shareholders were largely to blame for their failure to attend the company’s meetings and keep a watch on their directors;

“Apparently the shareholders did not then care a rap what became of their property, although they now turn round and complain bitterly of its having been squandered. If shareholders will pay no attention whatever to their own interests, who~ do they expect, will? Do they look after their own businesses or house property in this way? . . . Such acts of abuse are truly awful, but when justified they must be told. The recital is wholesome, as well to prevent as to punish. The poor shareholders! We cannot but pity while we blame them for their abominable laxity of conduct, their almost criminal state of indifference.” *

Maryport Station Carlisle Train 2 4 0 Loco No R1 Inside Cover
Maryport Station Carlisle Train 2 4 0 Loco No R1 Inside Cover

The Maryport & Carlisle Railway

That seems on the whole to be a fair judgment. Though it is true that the old directors were in the dock, and the committee to some extent in the position of prosecuting counsel, and we have no reply for the defence, I think the report can safely be accepted as a statement of fact. It is a clear-headed piece of work, carefully moderate in tone, with the stamp of truth on it at every point.

Moreover, it is a striking fact that under the new management the company’s position promptly began to improve: the fifties showed a rise in its prosperity, gradual but steadily maintained. The year 1850 is the turning-point in its history.

One further difficulty, however, had still to be surmounted. When the railway was first projected it was designed, as we have seen, to form a junction with the Newcastle and Carlisle railway at Carlisle: no third railway then served the city.

In 1844 the Maryport company secured an Act authorising it to build a branch at Carlisle and a station of its own, known as Crown Street. The Newcastle and Carlisle already had its station at London Road. By this time two other companies were approaching the city, the Lancaster and Carlisle and the Caledonian and they, intending from the first to operate through traffic together between England and Scotland, took powers to build a joint station, to which a third company, the Glasgow and South Western, was presently admitted on the opening of its line from Dumfries to Gretna in 1848.

The site of this new ‘Citadel station’ was nearer the centre of the city than either Crown Street or London Road: it was obviously desirable, from every point of view, that the two older companies should abandon their inconvenient stations on the outskirts and join the newcomers at Citadel.

Under an agreement of 1846 the Maryport company was entitled to become one of the proprietors of the new station, on terms to be settled by an arbitrator. But it proved impossible to secure an agreement with the other companies, and when Citadel station was opened on 1 September 1847, Crown Street continued in use.

Disputes at Carlisle

A very complex state of dispute and litigation’, to quote the words of Hartley’s committee, then ensued; and I confess I cannot altogether unravel the tangle. It appears that the Lancaster and Carlisle company seized Crown Street station in February 1849, whereupon the Maryport trains were diverted to London Road, for the use of which the company paid an annual rent of £250. A lawsuit followed, as a result of which the Maryport and Carlisle seems to have been awarded £7,000 damages against the Lancaster company. It was not until 1851 that an agreement was arrived at, by which the Maryport company became not a proprietor but a tenant for 999 years of a part of Citadel station, at an annual rent. Its trains began to use the station on 1 June 1851, and Crown Street was turned over to goods traffic. The Maryport and Carlisle Railway Act of 1852 sanctioned this agreement.

The rent to be paid was still a matter of dispute. In the year 1853 it was £366 14s 1d. In 1859 it was stated to be £600, which a shareholder complained was ‘a most enormous charge’. Three years later it had come down to £508. A bay was built for the accommodation of the Maryport trains at the south end of the station. It is still used for the same purpose, and still known as the ‘M. & C. Bay’. *

Prosperity and Extension The Maryport and Penrith Project

The Maryport and Carlisle company held a monopoly of railway transport in north-western Cumberland, which could hardly pass unthreatened. The first challenge to it came from Carlisle. The building of the Maryport railway had killed the Carlisle canal. In 1853 the canal was closed, and a new company secured powers to convert the canal into a railway. The work was speedily done: the line was opened for goods traffic on 22 May 1854 and for passengers on 22 June. *

A more dangerous rival appeared in 1854, when the Silloth dock and railway company promoted a Bill in Parliament for constructing a railway from a junction with the Port Carlisle line to Silloth. This was an obvious attempt to develop another harbour at the expense of Maryport. The Bill was supported chiefly by citizens of Carlisle, and they founded their case on the inadequacy of Maryport harbour. It was too shallow, they said, and too exposed; large ships could not be dealt with there; the Maryport regulations forbade the harbour-master to give any preference to steamers over sailing-ships. On the other hand they claimed that Silloth bay was ‘a place of safety, into which steamers may run in all weathers, and at all states of the tide; and have good anchorage and smooth water ‘.

The Maryport and Carlisle company appeared as the principal opponents of the Bill, together with the Earl of Lonsdale and the Maryport Harbour Trustees. They replied that improvements in the harbour were already in hand and that the new line was unnecessary. ‘I cannot conceive the necessity for a line passing over a district so utterly bare of inhabitants, or anything else, as this projected line,‘ said the secretary of the railway company, Henry Jacob, in his evidence. ‘It ends in a rabbit warren, and they can only hope for success by abstracting the traffic from us; we are able to carry it all.‘ Finally, it appeared from expert evidence that the approach to the proposed new harbour at Silloth was likely to silt up.

These arguments against the Bill prevailed. The House of Commons committee decided that its preamble was not proved. * But the victory of Maryport was no more than temporary: next year, when the Bill was re-introduced, it passed. The railway was opened on 28 August 1856. Five years later came a second battle, when the Silloth company tried a direct invasion of the Maryport and Carlisle’s territory. In 1861 it asked for powers to build a branch from Abbey to Mealsgate, at the northern tip of the West Cumberland coalfield. # Although this scheme came to nothing, it alarmed the Maryport and Carlisle company, which at once prepared to build a line of its own to Mealsgate (the ‘Bolton loop’-see page 19). Together with the Port Carlisle line, the Silloth company was leased to the North British in 1862 and merged with it in 1880.

Loco 0 4 2 Number 4 Built In 1879
Loco 0 4 2 Number 4 Built In 1879

The Maryport Caldbeck and Penrith Project

In the year 1860 two plans were put forward for a railway from the town of Penrith to the west coast. The first was to run by way of Keswick to Cockermouth, where it would join the Cockermouth and Workington railway, which had been open since 1847. Maryport, too, determined to make a bid for this traffic, and a Maryport and Penrith railway was promoted (with the backing of the Maryport and Carlisle company) to make a line by a more northerly route through Caldbeck.

This is one of the wildest and most interesting parishes in Cumberland. Its fells are extremely rich in minerals: coal is said to have been extracted from them as early as the fifteenth century, and lead, silver, and copper have been raised there more recently in considerable quantity.

The people say proudly that ‘Caldbeck and Caldbeck fells are worth all England else’; but the remoteness of the place and the difficulty of carting the minerals over the long hilly road to Wigton have brought every scheme for the industrial development of the parish to nothing.

We cannot be surprised that, in the struggle between these two projects, the clear value of the tourist traffic of Keswick and Bassenthwaite prevailed over the speculative profits of Caldbeck mining, and the Cockermouth, Keswick, and Penrith railway secured its Act in 1861, in spite of the opposition of Maryport. **

The Solway Junction Railway to Scotland

A third invader of the Maryport and Carlisle company’s territory was the Solway Junction railway, which was incorporated in 1864 to build a line from the Caledonian railway at Kirtlebridge to the Maryport and Carlisle at Brayton, crossing the Solway Firth by a viaduct, just over a mile long, near Bowness. Link to Railway Across the Solway

In 1866 the Solway Junction company promoted a Bill for a line from Broomfield (2 miles north of Bray ton) to Maryport, where it was to join the Whitehaven Junction railway. This would have run ‘near to and almost parallel with’ the Maryport and Carlisle’s existing line.

It cannot have been put up as a serious scheme by the Solway Junction: rather, it must have been intended as a means of forcing the Maryport company to offer increased facilities over its own line.

The manoeuvre was successfuL After negotiations between the two companies an agreement was arrived at, by which the Solway Junction abandoned its proposed extension in return for full running powers over the fifteen chains of line between Brayton junction and Brayton station, and through traffic facilities from Brayton station on to Maryport.

This agreement was confirmed by the Solway Junction Railway Act of 1866. The Solway Junction line was opened for goods traffic in September 1869, and for passengers in July 1870. In 1895 it was transferred to the Caledonian railway; it was closed on 1 September 1921. #

Loco 0 4 2 Number 8 Built In 1863
Loco 0 4 2 Number 8 Built In 1863

The “Bolton Loop”

Meanwhile, the Maryport and Carlisle company had secured powers for several extensions on its own account.

By its Act of 1855 it was authorised to make various improvements at Maryport, including three short branches to the harbour and a new station nearer the town than the original building, which had done duty since the opening of the line in 1840. The new station was completed in 1860; it has continued in use ever since. It was built of red sandstone and contained the company’s offices. At the half-yearly meeting in February 1860 the chairman -no doubt he had past extravagances in his mind – showed himself nervous lest ‘it might appear to some as rather too handsome a station’. But his apology was unnecessary: no criticism of the expenditure was heard.

The company was now a prosperous concern. It had climbed out of the trough of depression, it is true, rather slowly. As late as 1858 a local guide-book could still say of it: ‘This undertaking, though constructed under unfavourable circumstances, has an increasing traffic, and is expected eventually to justify the hopes of its projectors’. But it was in 1859 that the company began to pay high dividends, and the greatest good humour now prevailed at the meetings at Maryport, in place of the old discord. That autumn, for instance, the business over,

the shareholders. afterwards adjourned to the Golden Lion, where an excellent dinner was provided in Mrs. Hayton’s usual bountiful style. . . . After dinner a few complimentary toasts were given.‘  *

In 1862 the company secured an Act sanctioning an enlargement of Wigton station and the construction of the  ‘Bolton loop‘ from Aspatria to Aikbank junction. This was not designed, as from the map it might appear to be, to form an alternative to the main line. It was in fact the ‘Mealsgate branch’ of 1861 in another shape, and its purpose was simply to open up that part of the coalfield. It was always regarded not as one line but as two: a branch from Aspatria and a branch from Wigton, meeting at Mealsgate.

Little or no through traffic over the whole length of the line was ever operated. Passengers and goods were carried between Aspatria and Mealsgate from the opening of the line on 2 April 1866; but as early as the ‘seventies the eastern section seems to have been allowed to fall into disuse. At the company’s meeting in September 1877 it was stated that ‘ the [total] productive mileage was 38, but, in the course of a week or two, the relaying of the Wigton branch from Blaithwaite to Aikbank junction (3¼ miles) would be completed, and this portion opened for traffic’. 1¾ miles were opened on the following 1 October and the remainder on 1 October 1878.

The Maryport & Carlisle Railway Derwent Branch

The last and most important extension of the Maryport and Carlisle railway was the ‘Derwent branch’ (so called because it ran south to the river Derwent) from Bullgill to Brigham, which was built under powers obtained in 1865. It was opened on I June 1867.*

Running powers over the Cockermouth and Workington line had been conceded to the Maryport and Carlisle company by the London and North Western (Whitehaven Junction Transfer) Act of 1866, and a through passenger service was introduced between Maryport and Cockermouth on I November 1867: the trains had to reverse twice, at Bullgill and at Brigham. #

The early sixties saw a strong movement for consolidation among the numerous small railways in Cumberland. There were then eight of them

the Port Carlisle,
the Carlisle and Silloth Bay,
the Maryport and Carlisle,
the Cockermouth, Keswick, and Penrith,
the Cockermouth and Workington,
the Whitehaven Junction,
the Whitehaven, Cleator, and Egremont,
the Whitehaven and Furness Junction;

and at the Maryport and Carlisle company’s meeting on 21 August 1861 one of the principal shareholders, Dr. W. Cowan, urged that the four railways serving Maryport, Workington, and Whitehaven should be amalgamated. In a leading article the Railway Times gave its support to his proposal, but nothing came of it for the present. **

*… But in Adair’s Maryport Advertiser for 15 February 1867 it is stated that’ the branch line from BullgiIl to the Marron junction-Broughton Cross was inspected by a body of directors last week-a passenger train passing over the line-all of which was pronounced satisfactory.

Map Carlisle Rail Junction Route Of Maryport And Carlisle Railway
Map Carlisle Rail Junction Route Of Maryport And Carlisle Railway

The L.N.W.R. and the M. & C. Brigham to Cockermouth & Marron Foot

Two considerable measures of amalgamation were put through in 1866: the Whitehaven and Furness Junction line was merged with the Furness railway, and the London and North Western absorbed the Whitehaven Junction and the Cockermouth and Workington companies.

At once the Maryport and Carlisle directors sought to protect their company from the possible ill effects of the London and North Western’s new invasion of West Cumberland. By an agreement, signed on 2 April 1866, the Maryport and Carlisle railway secured running powers, as we have seen from Brigham to Cockermouth, and also from Brigham to Marron Foot, just over 2 miles to the west. The agreement provided besides for the free interchange of traffic between the two companies and for the continuance of a through passenger service from Carlisle to and from Whitehaven. The London and North Western, at the same time, was to succeed to all the rights the Whitehaven Junction had previously held as occupants of the station at Maryport, on the same terms as before.

A few months later, the London and North Western was said to be planning to take a lease of the Maryport and Carlisle company outright. This is the form in which the story found its way into the local newspaper:

‘On Wednesday last [1 August 1866] a body of gentlemen, directors of the London and North Western railway company, paid a visit to Maryport, and inspected the dock and harbour. A rumour has been current for some time past that there is a desire on the part of the London and North Western, now that they have obtained possession of the Whitehaven and Cockermouth lines, to lease the Maryport and Carlisle, and that very advantageous terms are offered to the shareholders in the shape of a guaranteed 10 per cent …. One thing is certain, there is a scheme of centralisation going on among the railway companies, and it is not likely that a short line like ours can long escape the contagion.’

However, the negotiations – if there was ever any real substance in them were without result. The same story was revived five years later, when the Railway Times casually remarked that the London and North Western was ‘in process of absorbing the Maryport and Carlisle’. Once again, the rumour was premature: the Maryport and Carlisle company maintained a stubborn, comfortable independence for fifty years more. **

Prosperity with Coal Iron Bessemer Steel

The sixties and early seventies were a period of marvellous prosperity for West Cumberland-the most prosperous time it has ever seen. The quantity of coal shipped at Maryport mounted from 66,298 tons in 1831 to 286,106 in 1855, and 476,162 in 1867, ‘the largest quantity that has ever been shipped in one year from any port in Cumberland’. #

 Nor was it only coal that was booming. Bessemer published his discovery of ‘ semi-steel‘ in 1856, and he found in practice that it was essential for an acid iron to be used in its manufacture, which contained only a small proportion of phosphorus.

The ore he wanted was to be had at Workington-the Cumberland and Furness haematite is the richest in England-and the West Cumberland iron trade shot suddenly into a position of the greatest importance.

Before 1856 there were only two ironworks in the district: by 1879 there were fourteen, two of which were at Maryport. The height of the boom came in 1871-1873, with a great export to the United States, but the production (If haematite in Cumberland went on rising until it reached its peak in 1882. In the last years of the nineteenth century it showed a marked decline, and by 1920 the deposits were becoming exhausted. ##

Map Maryport Station And Rail Route To Elizabeth Dock And Senhouse Dock
Map Maryport Station And Rail Route To Elizabeth Dock And Senhouse Dock

The Line from Cleator to Workington but not Maryport

All this prosperity is reflected in the dividends paid by the Maryport and Carlisle company. They rose from 5¾ per cent in 1859 to 10½ per cent in 1864 and then, after a slight falling back, to 11 per cent in 1870 and 13 per cent in 1873.

That was the highest the railway ever paid, but the average for the next ten years was still 10½ per cent; and except in 1921, when the rate was 4½ per cent, it never fell lower than 5 per cent for the rest of the company’s separate life.

Some of the other West Cumberland railways earned as much during the great boom: the Whitehaven, Cleator, and Egremont, for example, which was built primarily for the iron traffic, paid an average dividend of 10¾ per cent from 1860 to 1875.

With such valuable trade to offer, the owners of the Cumberland collieries and iron mines were in a strong position to bargain with the railway companies. For many years some of them had been dissatisfied with the facilities offered by the London and North Western, and in 1874 the Earl of Lonsdale, Lord Leconfield, and Mr. H. F. Curwen determined to build a railway on their own from Cleator Moor to Workington and Maryport.

The London and North Western and Furness railways stoutly opposed the Cleator and Workington’s Bill in Parliament; but when it had got through successfully in 1875 they saw they must come to terms and agreed to take a joint lease of the new line. The section from Workington to Maryport was never built.

In 1883 the Cleator and Workington company obtained powers to make a line 15½ miles long from Seaton (Calva junction, 45 chains north of Workington) to join the Solway Junction railway a little north of Brayton. This was a move to secure a share in the valuable iron traffic to Scotland, and clearly aimed at the Maryport and Carlisle.

Three years later the Cleator and Workington company reached an agreement with the Maryport and Carlisle, by which it limited its new line to a section from Calva junction to the Derwent branch at Linefoot: from Linefoot to Brayton the Maryport and Carlisle undertook to provide facilities for through traffic. This agreement was scheduled to the Cleator and Workington company’s Act of 1886, and the line was opened on 24 March 1887.*

The Cleator and Workington

That was the last threat of invasion the Maryport and Carlisle had to meet. Henceforward, it maintained its position unchallenged. This was partly due, no doubt, to the decline we have already noted in the Cumberland iron and coal trade; but it suggests too – what is clear enough from other indications – that the facilities offered by the company were adequate to the needs of the district it served.

It is interesting to notice that not a single order was made for a light railway or tramway in north-west Cumberland under the Light Railways Act of 1896. After all, George Stephenson’s prophecy had been substantially fulfilled.

No other competing line had ever been built: the Maryport and Carlisle railway remained

‘the great thoroughfare through that part of Cumberland ‘.

Nor did the company undertake any further extensions on its own account after the opening of the ‘Derwent branch‘ in 1867. It remained quite unaltered until it was absorbed into the London, Midland, and Scottish railway as a subsidiary company on 1 January 1923. #

The Company's Chairmen and Officers

The company had only five chairmen in its eighty-five years of life: J. P. Senhouse of Netherhall (1837-1842), F. L. B. Dykes of Dovenby Hall (1842-1850), G. W. Hardey of Whitehaven (1850-1874), Sir Wilfrid Lawson of Brayton Hall (1874-1906), and Thomas Hardey of Armathwaite Hall (1906-1922).

The most interesting of the five was undoubtedly Sir Wilfrid Lawson, a famous leftwing Liberal, a staunch teetotaller and pacifist, or to quote his own description, ‘a fanatic, a faddist and an extreme man ‘. He was M.P. for Carlisle 1859-1865 and 1868-1885 and for the Cockermouth division of the county 1886-1900 and in 1906.*

It is impossible to discover the holders of even the most important offices under the company in its earlier years. The secretaries changed with particular rapidity. William Mitchell seems to have held the post from 1840 to 1846-though D. Holliday is also mentioned as secretary in 1846. After him came G. H. Barnes, who was in office only a few months, and S. H. Sale (1849), who was succeeded by Henry Jacob in 1850. Jacob was also general manager of the company, and from this time onward the two posts were always combined. There were four other holders of the joint office: Joseph Lyndall (1855-1858), John Addison (1858-1885), Hugh Carr (1885-1909), and Thomas Blain (1908-1922). G. P. Neele speaks of Addison as ‘straightforward, clear and open,’ and he records a tradition that Addison was

‘the originator of the “red cap” as the distinguishing mark of the pilotman appointed to conduct traffic up and down on a single line of rails’.

Carr had been the company’s accountant for seventeen years before he was promoted to the secretaryship. On his retirement an honorarium of 500 guineas was voted to him: he got no pension. # Carr and Blain each served the company for half a century.

The engineers and locomotive superintendents were as follows:

George Stephenson (1837-1839)
James Dees (in office during years 1854-1858)
Tohn Blackmore (1839-?)
? Routledge
John Addison (?-1884)
John Harris (in office, 1848)
Joseph Cartmell (1884-19I6)
Harold Brown (1916-1922)

? Scott
George Tosh (in office 1854;resigned 1870)
Hugh Smellie (1870-1878)
Robert Campbe11 (1878-1893)
William Robinson (1893-189S)
William Coulthard (1898-1904)
J. B. Adamson (1904-1922)

Tosh earned the praise of the chairman as ‘a most valuable servant of the company’, who ‘worked day and night and kept his department in excellent order’. Smellie was trained on the Glasgow and South Western railway and returned there as locomotive superintendent in 1878. *

The arms of Senhouse and Lawson were quartered with those of Maryport and Carlisle to form the coat-of-arms of the company.

Passenger Services, Stations, and Train Working

For some time after the opening of its first two sections in 1840-1841, the Maryport and Carlisle railway made no appearance in either of Bradshaw’s time-tables. On 25 May 1841 it issued a time-sheet of its own, showing five trains each way between Maryport and Aspatria, and an omnibus running once daily between Aspatria and Wigton to give a connection to and from Maryport.  #

An edition of Bradshaw’s Companion published in 1844 shows the same number of trains on the Maryport section of the line, and two between Carlisle and Wigton, to which a third was added on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

When the line was opened throughout its length, there were at first two trains a day between Carlisle and Maryport, and the company ran a coach to carry passengers on to Whitehaven. There were three local trains as well from Maryport to Aspatria, without counting what is enigmatically described as ‘short train occasionally at 10 a.m.’ By August a third Carlisle train had been added, but thereafter the number rose slowly.

In 1850 an ‘express mail’ was put on, which did the 28-mile journey from Carlisle to Maryport in seventy minutes. At the other end of the scale comes a rather dubious train between Carlisle and Wigton, added in 1862. It is marked in Bradshaw’s Guide: ‘Goods train. Punctuality not guaranteed.‘ In 1877 there were still only five trains a day between Maryport and Carlisle. Two years later this number had risen to six, and by 1883 there were seven. That remained the maximum for the rest of the century. By 1910 there were eight, and after a curtailment during the war the number rose to nine in 1922. Two trains ran through between Carlisle and Whitehaven, worked by London and North Western engines. The fastest booked time for the journey between Carlisle and Maryport was, I believe, the fifty minutes allowed to the 4 p.m. down train in 1910. As for the Sunday service, it never comprised more than two trains each way.

Train Services

The service provided on the branches was similar. On the ‘ Bolton loop’ there was at first only one train a day between Aspatria and Mealsgate; and in the seventies the eastern part of the line was closed altogether. In later years, while there were five or six trains on the western section, as far as Mealsgate, only one (which did not connect with these) ran between Mealsgate and Wigton. That solitary train was withdrawn temporarily during the coal strike of 1912, and permanently in 1921.

As far as passengers were concerned, the chief purpose of the ‘Derwent branch’ was to provide communication between Maryport and Cockermouth. The line opened in 1867 with four trains a day, which slowly crept up to five and then, by 1910, to six: two, and for a time three, ran on Sundays. Three of the week-day trains worked through between Maryport and Cockermouth: by the others it was necessary to change at Bullgill. For a little while, round about 1915, one through train a day was operated in each direction between Cockermouth and Carlisle.

Private Stations

On the western section of the main line-the first to be built-there were originally four stations: Maryport, Bullgill, Arkleby, Aspatria. When the Carlisle portion was opened there were for a short time temporary stations at Dalston and near Currock Pool; but it was intended that there should be permanent stations at Wigton, Crofton, Curthwaite, and Cummersdale besides. It was announced

‘These will be built of stone, and ornament will be considered as well as solidity.’*

But caution ultimately prevailed, and they were designed in the plainest style possible. All of them were opened quickly, except Cummersdale and perhaps Crofton – an oddity among stations, of which there will be more to say later on. When the middle section of the line was opened, Brayton and Leegate were added, and Dearham Bridge, between Maryport and Bullgill, appeared at the same time. The total number of stations was thus eleven.

In the 1851 edition of Macaulay’s map of the English railways, which was said to have been corrected by the companies, a station is also shown at Abbey Holme, a little to the west of Leegate; but I cannot trace it in Bradshaw. As early as 1852 one station, Arkleby, was closed. Cummersdale, promised at the beginning, did not appear until 1858.  #

The ‘ Bolton loop’ started with two stations, Baggrow and Mealsgate. High Blaithwaite was added later and closed in the autumn of 1921. On the’ Derwent branch’ there were originally three public stations – Dearham (not to be confused with Dearham Bridge, on the main line), Papcastle, and Brigham.

But the ‘Derwent branch’ also boasted a private station. This was at Dovenby, a mile north of Papcastle, and it was built for the special use of the Dykes family of Dovenby Hall, one of whom had been chairman of the company in earlier days. Crofton, on the main line between Wigton and Curthwaite, was also a private station, used by the Brisco family of Crofton Hall.

There were, so far as I know, only six other private stations in the whole of Great Britain: Dunrobin on the Highland railway, West Moor on the Midland, Avon Lodge on the London and South Western, Easton Lodge on the Great Eastern, and two in the Isle of Wight-Watchingwell on the Freshwater, Yarmouth and Newport, and Whippingham on the Isle of Wight Central (which later became public). *

It is interesting to find two of the eight British private stations on the Maryport and Carlisle, and it indicates what may be called the ‘ feudal’ nature of the railway, the extent to which it was controlled by the local gentry. As these stations never appeared in the timetables, it is impossible to determine when they were opened and disused; but the building of Crofton station was authorised in the Maryport and Carlisle Railway Act of 1855.

As early as 1851 the Maryport and Carlisle was experimenting with excursion trains, reduced fares, and day tickets. On I April 1866 the company began to issue special four-day return tickets from Maryport to London: later in the same year it announced excursions to Keswick, to Glasgow and Edinburgh, and to Newcastle.

By the end of the century the usual week-end and cheap day return tickets were available, and in the summer of 1910 the company was offering combined rail and coach tickets from its stations to the Lakes via Keswick and to Patterdale via Carlisle, Penrith, Pooley Bridge, and the UIlswater steamer. Second-class facilities were withdrawn on 31 December 1911. #

The Maryport & Carlisle Railway peculiarities

The Maryport and Carlisle railway could show few interesting peculiarities in its working. It was unique in one small thing: that the engine of every train, no matter of what description, carried a single headlamp over the right buffer. The standard head-code was eventually adopted, but not until the twentieth century.

A part of the eastern end of the line was originally laid on stone blocks, not on sleepers. It had at first been intended to use sleepers, but George Stephenson recommended stone blocks instead on grounds of economy. It proved a false economy, for they made a rough track, and sleepers had to be substituted for them before very long.

As with all the other early railways, it was soon necessary to relay the Maryport and Carlisle with heavy rails, the lighter rails being unable to stand up to the traffic. Steel rails were first used experimentally in 1867: by 1870 they had proved so successful that the directors decided to relay the whole main line with them as soon as the existing rails wore out.

The line was originally single, but it was doubled piecemeal: the work was completed in 1861. It has been stated that the doubling was paid for almost entirely out of revenue, but in fact new capital was raised from time to time for the purpose. The telegraph was brought into operation on the main line in 1852.  *

A rule book of 1870 shows that the company then used a three-position system of signalling. At ‘danger’, the semaphore was horizontal, showing a red light at night; at ‘caution’, it pointed 45 degrees downwards and showed a green light; at ‘all clear’, it fell flush with the post, showing a white light. Disc signals were also still in use in some places. “

There was never a serious accident on the Maryport and Carlisle railway, but a mishap of 1867 throws some interesting light on the company’s rather casual methods of conveying workmen. A privilege has been allowed for many years to the collieries on this line, to allow the workpeople at Rosegill, Bullgill, and other pits to ride to and from their work on the van attached to the mineral trains. On the evening of 7 December one such train was waiting at ‘the Rosegill station‘ when it was run into by a down goods train. Ten people were injured, of whom five were women; some of them seriously.

‘At the point where the accident occurred there is a curve which requires the distant signal to be used, and it is believed this had been neglected on this occasion.’· *

Locomotives & Rolling Stock

The locomotives of the Maryport and Carlisle railway were distinguished by their variety and, in later years, their longevity. No standard designs were adopted by the company: the largest ‘class’ it ever possessed comprised three engines (2-4-0 nos. 8, 10, and 13, designed by Smellie and built at Maryport between 1874 and 1878). It is impossible therefore to describe its locomotives in general terms-to give a full account of them it would be necessary to take each one or each pair separately. No such elaborate study will be attempted here. 

The first locomotive owned by the company, with which the line was opened in 1840, was also the first to be built by Messrs. Tulk and Ley of Whitehaven. It is said to have arrived at Maryport on a raft, and this is likely enough, for the journey from Whitehaven by the steep road would have been a formidable undertaking. It was a 2-2-2 named Ellen, with 5-ft. wheels and cylinders 12 in. by 18 in., and it cost £1,580. By 1841 it had been joined by no. 2, an 0-6–0 (4-ft. 6-in. wheels, cylinders 14 in. by 18 in.) named Brayton, price £1,720. #

Nos. 3-8 also bore names; 3 Ballantine Dykes, 4 Hamson, 5 Sir Wilfrid, 6 Senhouse, 7 Lowca, and 8 Harris respectively.
No. 9 may have borne the name Cocker, though this is doubtful;
No. 10 Derwent (1848).
Thereafter, for a time, the engines carried numbers only.
Then, from 1857 to I869 (was it a sign of the revived prosperity of the company?) some engines again were named. After 1869 the practice was dropped altogether.


Most of the early engines were of the 0-6-0 or 0-4-2 type. No. 12 was a notable exception, a ‘Crampton’ 4-2-0 with 7-ft. wheels and 16 in. by 20 in. outside cylinders. It was built in 1854 and lasted in its original form only six years. In 1860 it was converted into a 2-2-2, and it was scrapped in 1870.

Almost all these engines were rebuilt at least once, but even so they did not last long. No. I had been broken up by 1850, and Tosh, the locomotive superintendent, reported to the half-yearly meeting in September 1855 that’ the old engines, or those purchased from ten to fifteen years since, have been, with the exception of no. 5, rebuilt, or replaced by others of approved construction and much greater power’. *

Of the first fourteen locomotives (1840-1855), half were supplied by Tulk and Ley, four by Hawthorns, and one each by E. B. Wilson, Sharp, Stewart and Co., and T. Richardson of Hartlepool. Then in 1857 the company took to building its own engines at Maryport, and it continued to do so, with some exceptions, for about forty years. The last engine built there seems to have been 0-4-2 no. 16 (r895). Thereafter, the Maryport works were used only for rebuilding and repair work. #

A few technical features of these engines are of interest. In 1859 Tosh stated that ten had been adapted to burn coal instead of coke, which made a considerable reduction in running costs. The company’s engines were fitted with steel tires as early as 1862; and the very first steel locomotive boilers were made for the Maryport and Carlisle and the London and North Western railways in 1862 and 1863.:##

We have seen besides that the Maryport and Carlisle made experimental use of steel rails in 1867. It is appropriate that the company should have been, in a modest way, a pioneer in the use of steel, since West Cumberland made so vital a contribution to the success of Bessemer’s process.

A number of the company’s goods engines were fitted with double buffers, one set below the other (see Plate V). This was to enable them to deal with the small colliery wagons that had to be hauled down to Maryport and shunted about in the docks. The two small 0-4-0T shunting engines nos. R2 and R3 (originally nos. 10 and 7 of 1878 and 1882 respectively) were designed on a very small scale: they were almost miniature engines, only 9 ft. high, so that they could negotiate the low overbridges in the Elizabeth and Senhouse docks at Maryport. All locomotives were painted green, with black bands lined with vermilion. * The passenger engines bore the company’s coat of arms on splashers or, bunkers.

The most powerful locomotives the Maryport and Carlisle railway ever owned were the two superheated 0-6-0 nos. 29 and 30, built to Adamson’s designs by the Yorkshire Engine Company in 1921. They were also the last of its engines to survive: the London, Midland, and Scottish railway scrapped them in 1933 and 1934.

A table of all the company’s locomotives appears as Appendix 11. It is arranged chronologically, in order of building. Many particulars of the early locomotives come from lists drawn up by that great authority, the late Mr. A. C. W. Lowe, who had access to the company’s books at Maryport, which have now entirely disappeared.

The growth of the company’s rolling stock may be illustrated from the following sets of figures: #

Year:    Locomotive:    Passenger Vehicles:     Wagons

1845    8                      21                                230

1862    15                    26                                816

1899    27                    56                                1818

1922    33                    71                                1404

The Maryport & Carlisle Railway Carriages and Wagons

We have very little useful information about the carriage and wagon stock of the company. Some interesting drawings are reproduced in the Railway Magazine for October 1909 from originals signed by Blackmore, the engineer: they show a first and a second class carriage, a 3-ton coal wagon, and a horse box. All were, of course, four-wheeled, and the Maryport and Carlisle railway stuck to the four-wheeled passenger carriage to the end, though it owned a few bogie vehicles as well.

In 1905 the livery of the coaches was changed from varnished teak with gold lettering to something more elaborate: ‘the lower panels are now finished in dark green, and the upper portions are white with a faint greenish tinge, with gold striping round the panels, windows, etc.’ The goods wagons were painted a lead colour with white lettering. As we should expect, the company was not very quick to adopt technical improvements in passenger train working. In 1889 it reported that none of its vehicles was fitted with continuous brakes. *

The Maryport and Carlisle railway, then, bore a quite consistent character throughout its life. It was built primarily to serve the West Cumberland coalfield, and it performed that task satisfactorily, discharging at the same time its secondary obligations, to the city of Carlisle and the agricultural district through which its main line ran. It was managed efficiently, and with a marked economy that was a main factor in its prosperity.

It made a few small contributions to technical progress, but it is chiefly interesting to the historian as a perfect specimen of the small, independent local railway company. That type virtually disappeared in England with the amalgamation of 1923: to us, in 1947, on the eve of nationalisation, it seems to belong to the remote, Victorian past. #

Table Of Locomotives Of Maryport And Carlisle Railway Appendix 1 P36
Table Of Locomotives Of Maryport And Carlisle Railway Appendix 1 P36
Table Of Locomotives Of Maryport And Carlisle Railway P37 P36
Table Of Locomotives Of Maryport And Carlisle Railway P37 P36
Table Of Dividends 1844 1922 Maryport And Carlisle Railway P35
Table Of Dividends 1844 1922 Maryport And Carlisle Railway P35

AUTHOR’S NOTE [Jack Simmons]

I have tried as far as possible to support the statements in this essay by citing contemporary evidence. The material I have used is indicated in the notes. My extracts from the Cumberland newspapers at the British Museum were made in 1939. Since then the Newspaper Library has been seriously damaged in an air-raid, and many thousands of volumes destroyed. As a result, the provincial newspapers between 1830 and 1923 are now completely inaccessible: they are likely to remain so for some years to come. This is one cif the severest losses to the student of railway history could suffer; for they are among the most important classes of his material, they have been very little worked, and when destroyed they are virtually irreplaceable.

I have also been lucky enough, through the kindness of Mr. L. Ward, to he allowed to use a series of notes on the company’s locomotives made by the late Mr. A. C. W. Lowe from official records at Maryport that have now disappeared. It is on them that Appendix Il is chiefly based. I am extremely grateful to Mr. Ward for generously placing this valuable material and his own notes at my disposal.

For other help and information I am obliged to Mr. D. S. Barrie, Messrs. Beyer, Peacock and Co. Ltd., Mr. F. M. Butterfield, the late Mr. G. W. T. Daniel, Mr. T. Gray, F.L.A. (Director of the Public Library, Museum, and Art Gallery at Carlisle), Mr. Richard L. Pattinson, Mr. David L. Smith, Mr. J. E. T. Stanbra (Secretary of the Railway Clearing House), and Mr. H. A. Valiance (Hon. Secretary of the Railway Club). The Locomotive Publishing Co. has kindly allowed me to reproduce four of its photographs, and Locomotive and General Railway Photographs have provided five. I am indebted to Mr. Michael Robbins for reading and criticising the essay in typescript and in proof.

J.S., University College, Leicester.
15 May 1947·
Printed by The Campfield Press, St. Albans,
and published by the Oakwood Press, 30 White Horse Hill, Chislelrurst, Kent
in August 1947

References to text and external sources

Appendix I
[photo scan required]

Appendix 2 Table of locomotives of the Maryport and Carlisle Railway
Rear Inside Cover note:
JACK SIMMONS was born in 1915 and educated at Westminster School and Christ Church, Oxford. From 1943 to 1947 he was Beit Lecturer in the History of the British Empire at Oxford. He is now Professor of History at University College, Leicester. His previous publications are Southey (1945) and African Discovery (with Margery Perham, 1942).


Pages refer to these sources of information:

Page 2
Ref 1 Victoria History of the County of Cumberland, ii (1905). 342, 348, 359,378,379; lsaac Fletcher, ‘The Archaeology of the West Cumberland Coal Trade’, in Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Archaeological Society-. first series, iii. :216-313.

Ref 2 Victoria County History ii. 375-7; D. and S. Lysons, .;Magna Britannia: Cumberland (1816), 54-55; Parliamentary Papers, 1831, xviii.55.

The best account of the town of Maryport is that in W. Whellan’s History and Topography of the Counties of Cumberland and Westmorland (1860), 319-324. See also the Official Guide to Maryport, authorised by the Maryport Urban District Council (ed. 2, c. 1936).

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Ref 5 Railway Gazette, lxxxvii. 62; Victoria Count)! History, ii. 375·

Ref 4 Copies of the reports of Dodd, Chapman, and Jessop are in the Bodleian Library, Oxford. On Dodd and Chapman, see the Dictionary of National Biography; on Jessop, my article in Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries, xxii. 267-270.

The later plans are described in Considerations on the proposed Canal between Newcastle and Maryport (1807) and a series of extracts from the Tyne Mercury of 1817, both in the British Museum.
The 1817 project was for a canal between Newcastle and Carlisle only, and the alternative of a railway was considered. See also W. W. Tomlinson, The North Eastern Railway: its Rise and Development [?1915], 363-367

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* J. Priestley, Historical Account if the Navigable Rivers, Canals, and Railways of Great Britain (1831), 140-142; Tomlinson, op. &it., 263, 321.

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* S. Smiles, Life of George Stephenson (ed. 5, 1858),362.

# There are, in fact, on the main line as it was built, two stretches slightly steeper than this: a mile at 1 in 221 between Aspatria and Brayton and a mile at 1 in 218 immediately to the west of Curthwaite station. Both these gradients rise in the direction of Carlisle.

## Sir Wilfrid Lawson: a Memoir, ed. G. W. E. Russell (1909), 4.

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* Parliamentary Papers, 1840, xlv. 336-386. Cf, Smiles, op. cit.,391-392; and W. McG. Gradon, Furness Railway: its Rise and Development [1946, 12-13.

# John Brunton’s Book (1939), 44; A Report of the Case, Irving, a Contractor, v. the Maryport and Carlisle Railway Company [? 1841], 3, 20.
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** Ibid., 20-23, 76.
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* Carlisle Journal, 18 July 1840; Carlisle Patriot, 29 April and 6 May 1843; Cumberland Paquet, 11 February 1845. The Victoria County History (ii. 346) says the section from Arkleby Pits to Aspatria was opened in December 1841; but this is disproved by the Railway Times, 24 April 1841 , p. 453·

# This last section had been open for goods traffic since the previous 15 February (Cumberland Pacquet, 23 February 1847).

## Cumberland Paquet, 20 January and 26 May 1846, 23 March 1847; Smiles, op. cit., 422; H. G. Lewin, The Railway Mania and its Aftermath (1936),251.

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* Bradshaw’s Railway Manual, 1848, p. 64; Tomlinson, op. cit., 487. See also Cumberland Pacquet, 24 August 1847.
As late as 1860 the Railway Times urged the amalgamation of the two companies (12 May, p. 521).
# Op. cit., 501-502. See also Lewin, op. cit., 359-360•

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* Herapath’s Railway and Commercial Journal, 6 April 1850, pp. 336-337; 5 October 1850, p. 968; 5 April 1851, p. 394.

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** Ibid., 5 October 1850, p. 968.

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*Ibid., 23 November 1850, pp. 1138-1139. 1144-1145. Copious extracts from the report were printed in the same number of Herapath. The full text was published as a pamphlet at Carlisle in 1850.

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* Report qf the Committee of Investigation (1850), 24-25, 40. (But of:. Herapath, 5 October 1850, p. 968, where the chairman speaks of “the unfavourable termination of proceedings with reference to the Crown Street station at Carlisle “.) Bradshaw’s Manual, 1853, p. 150; 1855, p. 169; 1864, p. 186. Herapath, 5 March 1859, p. 264.

Before leaving the subject of Carlisle, it may be noted that in I8gS the Glasgow and South Western company secured an Act authorising it to transfer its engine shed from Petteril Bridge on the south-east of Carlisle to a new site a little north-east of Currock junction on the Maryport and Carlisle line. For this purpose it was given running powers over the Maryport and Carlisle from Rome Street junction, and authority to build a branch from the Maryport line to its shed. It was to pay a rent of 6d. for each engine, 2d. for each carriage, and Id. Per ton of coal passing over this section of the Maryport railway, with a minimum of £750 a year. The new shed was opened in 1896. (Glasgow and South Western Railway Act, 1895, and schedule attached to it; information from Mr. David L. Smith.)

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• Bradshaw’s Manual, 1856, p. 233.

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* T. Webster, Carlisle and Silloth Bay Dock and Railway Bill: Minutes of Evidence and Proceedings (1854), 5,6, 13, 20, 2g, 31, 32, 51, 72, 113.

# Carlisle Patriot, 30 August 1856; Railway Times, 16 March 1861, P·345·

** Railway Times, 10 November 1860, p. 1142; Victoria County History, ii. 379-380; D Scott, Cumberland and Westmorland (1920), 71.

# Railway Magazine, lxx. 28. The section of the line from Abbey junction to Brayton was reopened for goods traffic in May 1922 and finally closed on 14 February 1933.

*.. Herapath, 24 September 1859, p. 982; 3 March 1860, p. 223;
History qf Carlisle, Past and Present, and Guide to Strangers (ed. 2, 1858), 25.
A lithograph of the original station at Maryport is reproduced in the Railway Magazine, xxv. 271.

# Ibid, 24 May and I November 1867.

**… Railway Times, 31 August 1861, pp. 1105-1106, 1113

** Adair’s Maryport Advertiser, 3 August 1866; Railway Times, 13 May 1871, p. 463.
# Victoria County History, ii. 383.
##: C. R. Fay, Great Britain/rom Adam Smith to the Present Day (ed. 4, 1937), 274-!l75; Sir John Clapham, Economic History of Modem Britain (1926-1938), i. 50, ill. 521; Victoria County History, ii. 386,389,391.

* Gradon, Furness Railway, 96-g8; Railway Times, 3 September 1887,p. 306; Bradshaw’s Manual, 1888, p. 591.
# An apparent increase in the company’s mileage took place in 1912. Bradshaw s Manual for 1912 shows the’ productive’ mileage as 41¼ ; the editions of 1913 and succeeding years give it as 42¼ . I am wholly unable to account for this difference.

# G. P. Neele, Railway Reminiscences (1904), 109; Railway Gazette, ix.244·
* This section is based mainly on the lists of chairmen and officers given annually in Bradshaw’s Manual since 1848. The dates may not in every case be precisely accurate, since it is clear that some changes in the staff did not find their way at once into the Manual. The names of the company’s engineers are omitted in the editions from 1859 to 1886 inclusive.

I have also consulted Tuck’s Railway Manual; Bradshaw’s Railway Guide; A Report of the Case of Irving 3, 10; and Railway Magazine xxii. 361-362, xxv. 275-276.
For Senhouse’s resignation in 1842 see Herapath, 27 August 1842, p. 887; for the chairman’s praise of Tosh, Herapath, 7 November 1857, p. 1156; for the career of Adamson, Furness Railway Magazine, 23 October 1923.

# This time-sheet is reproduced in Railway Magazine, xxv. 268.

* Carlisle Patriot, 6 May 1843.
# A station appears at Heathfield, 10 ½ miles from Maryport, in ‘Distances between the Stations and Junctions of the Railways an which the Clearing System is in Operation’ (Railway Clearing House, 1853); but it has disappeared from the edition of 1862. The station was clearly never used for passenger traffic.

* Railway Magazine, xiii. 398; lxxxiii. 358, 360. I am excluding stations on private railways, and those at which private persons had special rights of stopping trains, such as Badminton and Fallodon.
# Herapath, 30 April 1853, p. 484; Adair’s Maryport Advertiser, 13 April, 1 June, 29 September, 12 October 1866; [F. J. Pape] The Maryport and Carlisle Railway: Official Guide [1910];
C. E. Lee, Passenger Class Distinctions (1946),68.
The Maryport and Carlisle railway became a party to the Railway Clearing House in 1847.

• Railway Magazine, li 422 Report of the Case Irving, 5, 20; Herapath, 17 April 1852, p. 423; 9 October 1852, p. Il!.lO; 17 November 1855, p. 1166-1167 7 November 1857, p. 1156; 25 September 1858, p. 989; Railway Times,2 March 1861, p. 252; Railway rear Book (1929),87.

• Adair’s Maryport Advertiser, 13 December 1867. Rosegill is close to Bullgill. It never had a station of its own.
# Railway Times, 4- September 1841; Herapath, 5 February 1842, P·I31.
*… Report of the Committee of investigation (1850), 36; Herapath, 17 November 1855, p. 1166.
# The Locomotive, ix. 131.
## Herapath, 5 March 1859, p. 264; E. L. Ahrons, The British Steam Railway Locomotive (1927), 163, 166.

*… The Locomotive, ii. 142.
# Tuck’s Railway Manual (ed. 8, 1847), 137; Parliamentary Papers, 1863, lxii. 673; Railway Year Book (1900), 183; Railway Year Book (1923), 173·

* The Locomotive, xi. 164; Parliamentary Papers, I890, lxv. 324.

# The Maryport and Carlisle railway makes one shadowy appearance in English literature. The scene of Wilkie Collins’s novel The Woman in White is laid at Limmeridge House, which may be placed, from the evidence in the text, somewhere near Allonby. Near the beginning of the novel the hero, Waiter Hartright, travels down to Limmeridge from London by way of Carlisle, taking what is clearly the last train at night on the Maryport line. Collins had visited all this country with Dickens in September 1857, staying at Carlisle, Wigton, and Allonby. See the amusing notes on it in their joint story The Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices, and Dickens’s Letters (Nonesuch ed., 1938), ii. 879-882.

Appendix I

Appendix 2 Table of locomotives of the Maryport and Carlisle Railway