Skip to main content

How the railways changed Tebay by Heather Ballantyne

Monday 12 April, 2021, by Karen Griffiths

Local historian Heather Ballantyne has kindly shared this essay and photographs with us, describing how Tebay changed from a tiny village into a thriving railway settlement with the arrival of the railway in the nineteenth century.

“Until the railways came to Tebay it was basically a farming community largely based around what is now known as Old Tebay. The old Tebay had a school, a smithy, a saw mill and a carrier as well as farms and cottages. I am going to look at what is now known as Tebay. Situated on a turnpike road. Tebay had its inn The Cross Keys, and beer house called Dyke and a few farms and the odd cottage.

Tebay village before it became known as Old Tebay. Extract from OS Westmorland XXVIII (includes: Orton; Tebay; Whinfell.) Surveyed: 1858, Published: 1863. Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland
Tebay village before it became known as Old Tebay. Extract from OS Westmorland XXVIII (includes: Orton; Tebay; Whinfell.) Surveyed: 1858, Published: 1863. Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

When the Shap route, proposed by Joseph Locke was chosen for the Lancaster to Carlisle railway, I am sure nobody in Tebay realised how it was going to change their lives and the village. On 24 May 1844 the Lancaster and Carlisle Railway Bill passed through both Houses of Parliament; the first sod was cut at Grayrigg in September of the same year.

The line opened in 1846 but the 1851 census shows only 13 people living in the Tebay area were working for the railway. These included: the station master, a Railway Inspector, an engine driver, 2 pointsmen, a stoker, a fireman, and 6 railway labourers all living in surrounding cottages. When the South Durham and Lancaster Railway (later LNER) made Tebay a junction it was obvious that they needed to build accommodation in Tebay.

Jo. Wharton had already built a row of terraces and many farmers were taking in lodgers but more houses were needed. Both railway companies had already bought land in Tebay and applied for permission to build 56 terraced houses between them facing the railway line.

Woodend Terrace, Tebay, unknown date. Courtesy of Heather Ballantyne
Woodend Terrace, Tebay, unknown date. Courtesy of Heather Ballantyne

Fourteen Houses called South Terrace, built of stone by North Eastern were the first ones finished followed by North Terrace. LMS then built their 28 houses to the south of these of brick and they were called Whinfell Terrace. In the middle of the terraces a larger house was built designed to be used as a lodging house for railway workers who finished their shift in Tebay before they returned to their home depot the next morning. In 1861 application was lodged to build more terraces this time in what is now known as Church Street.

Westmorland Gazette - Saturday 28 December 1861. Newspaper image © The British Library Board. All rights reserved. With thanks to The British Newspaper Archive (https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/).
Westmorland Gazette – Saturday 28 December 1861. Newspaper image © The British Library Board. All rights reserved. With thanks to The British Newspaper Archive (https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/).

These new houses brought more families and in 1863 a new school had to be built to accommodate the children as the old school was not big enough. Of course these families need somewhere to buy food and clothes and in 1864 three small terrace cottages were turned into the co-operative store. At some point a market hall was built between the South Terrace and the co-operative store but I don’t know when.

Tebay Co-op, unknown date. Courtesy of Heather Ballantyne
Tebay Co-op, unknown date. Courtesy of Heather Ballantyne

In 1865 it was decided that peoples spiritual needs were required to be looked after and the first Methodist Chapel was built (now called Chapel House) but by 1885 they had outgrown this and a new larger Chapel was built.

Tebay Chapel. Courtesy of Heather Ballantyne
Tebay Chapel. Courtesy of Heather Ballantyne

In the meantime C of E people had to go to Orton to worship a distance of 2 ½ miles. A meeting was held in the Cross Keys and it was decided that a church needed to be built in Tebay. Shareholders of the railway companies were asked to donate as were local people, and the North Eastern Railway donated the land. A competition was held and the design submitted by Mr. C. J. Ferguson was chosen and in 1878 the foundation stone was laid by Lady Mabel Howard. On being handed the trowel by Mr J. Cropper she declared that the Church should be called St. James’. It was to be built on a slight hill at the foot of which ran the railway lines and within sight of the river Lune. The outside was to be of stone and the inside of LMR bricks. The font and pulpit were carved from single pieces of Shap Pink Granite, seats in the form of railway waiting room benches and the font cover in the style of an engine wheel. St. James Church was completed and opened in 1880 at a cost of £2755. 8s. 6½d.

St James' Church, Tebay. Courtesy of Heather Ballantyne
St James’ Church, Tebay. Courtesy of Heather Ballantyne

Of course with all these people they needed something to do and somewhere to go in their spare time. A conservative club was built at the top of Mount Pleasant using public subscription and was opened by the Earl of Lowther in 1889. Several clubs and organisations were formed (A matter for another day) and although they used the market hall for meeting another place was required. In 1899 the then vicar of Tebay Rev Palin purchased from Sedbergh school their old chapel for the cost of £75. It was transported to Tebay by rail and was erected to become the Victorian Institute. For many years it was the place to go for dances, whist drives meeting etc. before eventually, after the railways closed, to be come 2 residences.

Sedbergh Chapel being dismantled c1899. Courtesy of Heather Ballantyne
Sedbergh Chapel being dismantled c1899. Courtesy of Heather Ballantyne

In 1898 Mr Mathew Croft bought a piece of land next to Dyke and gained permission to build a hotel on it. This was to become the Junction Hotel and it eventually opened in 1900 and was the largest building in Tebay at 64 ft wide.

Junction Hotel, Tebay, unknown date. Courtesy of Heather Ballantyne
Junction Hotel, Tebay, c1900. Courtesy of Heather Ballantyne

Of course he was not the only person who realised that Tebay needed places for travellers to stay and in 1856 Mr E Hayton a local builder had built a Temperance Hotel on Mount Pleasant (it closed in 1859) maybe he was a bit premature with his building as Tebay did not become a junction until 1861 but as anyone knows who has lived there Tebay can be very wet and extremely windy and who wants to walk that far with luggage.

Mount Pleasant, Tebay, unknown date. Courtesy of Heather Ballantyne
Mount Pleasant, Tebay, unknown date. Courtesy of Heather Ballantyne

With all of these people now living in what was once a scattering of houses, the police decided to close the police station at Orton and built a new one at Tebay as they felt that was where they were most needed. So in 1906 Tebay had a new police station and house. Of course these were not the only buildings erected. There were more houses to hold the growing number of workers, another school for the growing number of children and many shops were opened (Yet another story).

Extract from OS Westmorland XXVIII.8 (Orton; Tebay) Revised: 1897, Published: 1898
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland
Expansion of ‘new’ Tebay clearly shown. Extract from OS Westmorland XXVIII.8 (Orton; Tebay) Revised: 1897, Published: 1898 Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

So, Tebay had grown out of the coming of the railway but when the railways started closing it was also to see its decline with people moving on and shops closing. It next big event was the M.6 coming through the Lune Gorge but again another story for another day.

So we had the birth of a village and decline of a community but nearly all of the buildings standing today are a testament to it birth and, although we have no shops, the community is still here.”

< Previous ‘A Way Through’ blog post Railway navvies in Westmorland: ‘infatuated beings’

Next ‘A Way Through’ blog post Railway Families in Westmorland: the Ratcliffes >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Picture of Karen Griffiths

Karen Griffiths

Interpretation Officer for the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority

Website: www.yorkshiredales.org.uk

22 Replies to “How the railways changed Tebay by Heather Ballantyne”

  1. Diane Marrs says:

    Thank you for this, I found it very interesting. My grandad was born in number 2 North Terrace. I have recently found a book given to his sister Daisy in 1908, by the teachers of Tebay LMS school which is how I came across your article as I googled “ Tebay lms School” .
    Their father worked as a railway engine driver and must have come to the area due to the railway expansion as he was born in Stanley, Durham.

  2. Andrew says:

    This is fascinating, thank you! Relatives on both sides of my family worked on the railways at Tebay. We were just discussing them and I came across this. I had no idea about the chapel being moved from Sedbergh!
    Thank you again

  3. Roy Ruddick says:

    My grandparents (Jimmy & Kitty Nicholson) lived at 7 South Terrace (the old lodging house) for some years. When I stayed with them, I often went shopping at the Coop and had to remember their ‘divvy’ number.
    I moved into North Terrace in 1959 and lived there until 1962. I attended Tebay Endowed school. The headmast (D Brennen) often took the whole school down to the Church. Personally, I attened the Chapel Sunday School, it was romoured that they had better Morecambe trips and Christmas parties.
    While at Tebay school, we conducted our own census in 1959. Of the total 609 souls living in Tebay, 103 worked on the railway.
    At the time, enthusiasm for the railway was encouraged. I enjoyed many a ride in the bank engines pushing trains up Shap. However, I was more interested in signalling and spent alot of time in Tebay No 3 box in the old NER yard.

  4. Roy Ruddick says:

    Hello Karen
    You may be interested in the letter that was recently published concerning railway operations at Tebay

    Railway Magazine – Celebrating 125 Years

    Favourite rail memory

    Dear Editor

    My best memory is being given access to Tebay (NER Yard) No 3 signal box from 1960 to its closure.
    My favourite times were Summer Saturdays when holiday specials used the Stainmore route from the North East to Blackpool.
    Outside the box, the South Shields and Darlington trains combined to go forward as one. This was followed closely by the Newcastle-Blackpool train. Locomotives were changed and serviced, a visiting loco or a Tebay bank engine would work the trains forward.
    Any or all of the trains could be doubled headed.
    In the afternoon, the reverse happened.
    Combining the South Shields and Darlington portions involved reversing onto the Up Line. This was the only time the last working NER signal was operated.
    The locomotives were all Standard class 2, 3 & 4 and Ivatt class 2 & 4.

    I was also present in May 1960, when a class J21 worked a special and became the last NER loco to use the turntable, situated opposite the box.

    I have over the years obtained photographs of these happy memories.

  5. Emma Hamilton says:

    Anyone remembrance Edith Lang headmistress at Tebay endowed school
    She was my great Aunt

  6. Roy Ruddick says:

    I left Tebay Endowed school in July 1960. The headmistress at that time was a Miss Lloyd.

  7. Emma says:

    Yes…Edith Leng had left westmorland in 1939
    She had a son Leslie

  8. Ruth Mansergh says:

    There was a local artist John Thomlinson whose work included a painting of the Tebay valley. Does anyone know anything about him? (I’ve tried online searches). His work was around in the 1950s – but he may have been painting much earlier. Ruth

    • Heather Ballantyne says:

      There was a local artist called John (Jack) Thornborough. He was not a professional just painted for the love of it.Several local people have his paintings and his son still lives in Tebay

  9. Barry Freeman says:

    My Grandparents lived in Tebay they had a poultry farm and lived at linbarke mollie and Jack Freeman there son my father was called Leslie Freeman

  10. Len Clark has sent the following comment for me to post on here: “Hello my name is Len Clark. I worked on the Railway at Tebay for 48 years, on the Loco Dept and on the track. My father was also called Len and worked for 42 years as a signalman. As Roy Ruddick says his grandparents were Jimmy & Kitty Nicholson. I worked with Jimmy for a few years and he was a very good friend of mine. He said in 1959 there were 609 people in Tebay. I put a question mark against that as 170 people worked on the railway when I started in 1953, I have all their names. I remember well when the J21 Loco was last one to turn at Tebay. The number was 65033 and it is now being restored and when complete it is coming back to Kirkby Stephen. Ruth Mansergh says local artist was John Thomlinson. He was called John Thornborrow. He worked for Insurance and only painted in his spare time. He lived in Mount Pleasant. His son Bernard lives there now. “

    • Roy Ruddick says:

      Hello Len
      Glad to hear you are still alive and kicking!
      My figures of 609 in Tebay and 103 on the railway in some form or other, were taken from a 1959 Tebay school census exercise. So they may have been wrong.

  11. Darren Smith says:

    Would anyone here have information on why ‘Blamires Pool’ by the railway is so called?
    Was there some historical event linked with it or was it just simply that the occupant of the property was a Blamire at the time of the naming?

  12. Heather Coulthard (nee' Watson) says:

    When we lived in one of the cottages for a while in the early 60’s. The elderly lady next door was called, Emily Blamire. Her late husband may have had something to do with the railway, but I don’t know about this.

  13. Eddie Parker says:

    On holiday a few weeks ago and a railway enthusiast I visited St.James.
    Very impressed with the Church and all the effort made to detail not just the railway history but Tebay itself. The poster boards give great information – the bricks and pews fascinating and I am spreading the word for people to visit

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *