A huge amount has already been written about the history of the four railway lines which pass through and around the ‘A Way Through’ project area so this blog post is just intended to give a brief outline of that history by way of an introduction. Over time we’ll post some of the lesser known stories that we have been discovering: about the controversies surrounding their establishment; the accidents when they were being built and operated; the people who built them and the effect the lines had on the local economy and population.
Follow the links to find out more about the history of each of the four railway lines:
- South Durham & Lancashire Union Railway (Kirkby Stephen to Tebay). Opened 1861 and known as the Stainmore Line. Closed 1962
- Eden Valley Railway (Kirkby Stephen to Clifton). Opened 1862. Substantially closed 1962
- Lancaster & Carlisle Railway (via Tebay; Shap & Penrith). Opened 1846. Still operational
- Settle-Carlisle Railway (via Kirkby Stephen & Appleby). Opened 1875. Still operational
The Railway Map Online website is an excellent place to investigate the routes these railway lines followed.
The history of the Stainmore Line can be explored in more detail on the ‘Stainmore Story’ section of the Stainmore150 website. The Stainmore Railway Company was formed in 2000 and is based in the restored Kirkby Stephen East railway station. They offer a steam rail experience and have a wonderful collection of historic steam engines. The disused railway line at Smardale is now a nature reserve owned and managed by the Cumbria Wildlife Trust. The picturesque Smardalegill Viaduct is looked after by the Northern Viaduct Trust.
The Eden Valley Railway Trust is based at Warcop railway station and also runs steam trains on a short section of track, with the aim of restoring more in the future.
The famous Settle-Carlisle Railway was threatened with closure in the 1980s but thanks to an army of supporters the decision was overturned and the scenic line is now a much loved tourist destination within the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
The Lancaster & Carlisle railway is a fully functioning mainline railway, though some of the stations along it like the one at Tebay have been closed.
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