Thursday 4 October 2018

The Iron Moor - By Phil Baines

OVER the past few months our route builder Ben Yates has expanded the route southwards from Tebay all the way to Oxenholme. This will give you a nice run-up to the gradients heading over Shap. As part of this expansion, the line via Grange-Over-Sands has been added. Here is the new route map:

Now, Phil gives us some insight into the area we're extending into, and reasons for the expansion:

"Iron ore was mined in the area around Lindal-in-Furness to such an extent it became known as "The Iron Moor". The Lindal Moor iron ore was of a type known as haematite, on account of its blood-red colour. It was of very good quality, being low in phosphorus, and was highly valued."
"The various pits/mines were linked to the Furness railway by a mixture of standard and narrow gauge tracks and a large yard developed at Lindal to handle the traffic."
"The following picture gives an idea of the extent of the yard complex and also shows the hole that subsided under the track and swallowed loco 115!"
"The demand for haematite by the North East steel works meant that the mineral trains carrying coke and coal from County Durham to various ironworks in and around Barrow-in-Furness could carry return loads of ore."
"Originally the trains had to travel (and reverse) via the busy junction at Carnforth, but this was relieved by the development of the Hincaster branch which was a single-track branch line of the Furness Railway which connected Arnside on the Furness main line to a junction with the Lancaster and Carlisle Railway at Hincaster. Intermediate stations were provided at Sandside and Heversham, with the main engineering work being a substantial 26-arch viaduct over the River Bela (or Beela) near Sandside."
"As a significant volume of traffic over Stainmore was mineral traffic and much of it would travel via Tebay to Lindal, it was decided to extend the route along the Hincaster branch to facilitate scenarios representing this traffic. Also, the inclusion of Oxenholme meant that scenarios of mainline running over Shap could be better realised."
"The following pictures show some of the assets developed to incorporate the Hincaster branch into the route. They are still WIP so may look a little bare!"
"Firstly Oxenholme station."
"Next is Beela Viaduct."
"Sandside with the limekiln in the background. There is still a working quarry at Sandside and the spur to the quarry remained open until the mid 1960's."
"Arnside station. The Hincaster Branch entering from the bottom right to join the Furness mainline before crossing the Arnside viaduct in the background."
 *Please note that many details have been added since these screenshots were taken

And here are some more screenshots taken by Ben Yates: 

"Grange-over-sands station and yard."
"and the Lido at Grange-over-sands."

That's all from Phil for this blog post. We now want to just share some extra images that show the gorgeous gardens at Grange-Over-Sands sent to us by Ben just yesterday:

More soon. . . . . . .

Tuesday 15 May 2018

WCML Signal Boxes

The mammoth project to recreate the much-missed Stainmore Route, and the Eden Valley, as well as the section of WCML that links them, is nearing completion. Scenery work is almost complete. Audio work is now in progress. Enjoy the following tour of the WCML section of the route, by means of the many signal boxes found along the way, beginning at Grayrigg.

Scenery begins here at Grayrigg
The approach to Tebay
North of Tebay. The Stainmore line is branching of to the left of the signal box
The iconic location Scout Green
Shap Summit
The station at Shap
Eden Valley Junction. The pair of lines heading off to the left is the Eden Valley route to Kirkby Stephen.
 Look out for news soon of the locos and rolling stock to be included with the route. But here's a brief rundown:
  • Ivatt 4MT 2-6-0
  • Holden E4 2-4-0
  • Standard 4 2-6-0(New Model)
  • Standard 4 4-6-0
  • Midland 2P
  • Carriages: BR Mark Ones; LMS P1; LNER Teak
  • A range of appropriate wagons
And lets not forget the whole route is full of custom buildings created by Phil Baines. This route is sure to provide thousands of hours fun and entertainment!!

MORE SOON. . . . . . . 

Tuesday 31 January 2017

Shap and its Quarries - By Ben Yates

Shap, both famous and infamous in railway circles, is a market town with a population of 1264, situated in the fells just east of the Lake District National Park boundary and 10 miles south of Penrith.

Its folklore as a battleground for engine crews against the gradients and weather came largely to an end in 1974 with electrification – with northbound trains BRAKING for the speed restriction for the summit! The line here has a rare flat section, drops for a mile or so with another flat section through the station, cutting though the rock east of the village in a spectacular curved cutting and starts the long drop of 1 in 125 to Penrith.

Shap remains an important railhead for mineral traffic today, with 3 quarries plus lime kilns producing 1/3rd of the UK’s lime output. 

A lesser known issue affecting Shap was the Beeching Report and its subsequent implementation by Ernest Marples (the villain of the pantomime if ever there were one) which led to the loss of the stopping services on the WCML between Lancaster and Carlisle in 1968. Stations at Hest Bank, Bolton-le-Sands, Milnthorpe and Shap closed in 1968.  The mainline platforms at Carnforth were taken away in 1970 following the loss of traffic. Other intermediate stations at Burton & Holme, Grayrigg and Clifton & Lowther succumbed earlier in 1954. Traffic was light, the 1955 and 1966 WTT with 2-3 trains a day depending on the season and timetable. Stopping trains typically a class 4 tank engine and load 4 seemed to be regular, though the 1955 timetable shows the 10.35 ex Euston (presumably the relief to the Royal Scot) forming the later afternoon service, and the southbound Lakes Express (Workington to Preston portion) forming a morning service. There is some photographic evidence that DMUs took over these turns.

One regular unadvertised working was a short workers train from Shap Station to Shap Summit platform known as the “Tommy”, taking quarry staff to Shap “Blue” Quarry situated just west of the summit. The WTT shows a light engine ran from Tebay shed, picked up stock stabled in the short siding on the Up side of the station, and ran the 1 mile,  5 minute trip to the Summit, returning in the evening (midday on Saturday). The stock was reportedly brought back into the siding by rope and capstan. There is no record of the stock other than there was a first class section for office workers, but it is fair to assume this would have been at the historical end of the spectrum. The train doesn’t show in the 1966 timetable, so presumably had ended by then.

Shap “Blue” Quarry (also known as Summit Quarry) just west of the summit produces blue granite for hardcore and the former “Pink” Quarry produced architectural granite some 2 ½ miles south, at Wasdale Head, linked to the blue quarry by a narrow gauge railway, which can still be seen. Operating at 1320ft, this was narrowly shy of Corrour station on the West Highland line. Gordon Edgar captured this in operation - as seen HERE - and his book(Available Here) is highly recommended.

Shap Beck Quarry (sometimes known as Sweetholme) is located around a mile north, and produces limestone for the steel industry. The rail connection was brought in around 1942 is known as “Harrisons Sidings” and forms a loop and spur on the down side of the WCML before the line dives through the oblique diagonal crossing of the A6 (the main road to Scotland until the 1970s) forming the 70 yard “Shap Tunnel”. There was a signal box here from 1942 of the later LMS type, which controlled the loop and also formed a block post with Thrimby Grange, either box being able to control the intermediate block signals. Traffic from here included workings by rail to Shapfell / Hardendale on the shortest modern regular freight flow, being an exercise in avoiding heavy lorry traffic through the village.

Shap Fell Quarry (also known as Hardendale) was opened in 1962, and quarried limestone from the huge quarry behind Hardendale Fell – behind which is now very little! This quarry was established to provide limestone to Ravenscraig in Motherwell, and was further expanded in 1970 to become a limeworks (stone also being supplied from Shap Beck) with an additional kiln added in 1990. With steam operated freight being normal here until the end of 1967, 9Fs were regular motive power here. Diesels took over, and double headed electrics followed from 1974 for the heavy traffic to Motherwell, though this ceased in 1992.

Whilst the overlap with Stainmore in operations is at best fleeting, I decided to include the quarry in the route, but in its original state without the lime kilns.

Phil has previously made some quarry conveyor assets, which I have put to good use here at Shap Fell.

1 quarry down, 2 to go.

More Screenshots:

More Soon. . . . . . . .