Joining the West Coast Mainline at Tebay and Penrith
|The Stainmore Line(left) Arrives at Tebay|
The Stainmore Route was an incursion by the NER deep into foreign territory. Unlike the NER’s route into Carlisle Citadel, the ultimate melting pot of pre-grouping railways, the interface of both westerly ends led to some interesting operational arrangements.
Tebay’s existence as a town was a function of both the railway as a junction, and as 2 locomotive depots reflecting that NER locomotives could not work through over the LNWR / LMS (there is a curious exception of the occasional Sentinel Railcar working through to Ulverston, but I’ll save that for
another blog) and for the supply of banking engines for the 4 mile climb to Shap summit.
Regular passenger traffic was limited to the stopping service to Kirkby Stephen, using the “back” or “Geordie” platform 3 at Tebay, with its dingy overall roof. Through traffic were the seasonal Newcastle to Blackpool trains which changed engines here, westbound using Platform 3 where the cafeteria would line the platform with additional tables for the rare burst of customers; the eastbound services were worked via Platform 1 (the Down Main of the WCML) and engines were changed on the Kirkby Stephen line, presumably near Tebay No.3 box. Quite why is not documented!
Freights were almost exclusively mineral traffic from what would now be called south Cumbria, principally Barrow. Westbound engines were taken off in the reception line by Tebay No.3 and the wagons fly shunted to the south yard of 5 roads east of platform 3 where a “wessie” engine was attached for onward routing down Grayrigg Bank (poor but more brutal cousin of Shap – 10 miles of 1in100) through Oxenholme to Hincaster Junction for Barrow. This cut ten miles off the route via Carnforth, and met the Barrow line at Arnside. Such workings were an operation headache – the run down Grayrigg required brakes to be pinned down and were taken slowly, and at Hincaster this heavy, slow train had to be pathed
across the Down Main. It was common to schedule trains around 4 am, after the overnight sleeper traffic and fast overnight freights had passed.
At Appleby, the link to the S&C was infrequently used, mainly for excursion traffic and engineering diversions. The was one scheduled service from Appleby Midland to Penrith for convenience of connection from a Leeds service, but ironically the link only became significant when the EVR was taken up and the link used to access the truncated section to Warcop to serve the army.
The Eden Valley Railway didn't make it as far Penrith. Whilst there were early plans for a route parallel to the WCML, running powers were granted by the LNWR from the north facing Eden Valley Junction at Clifton as far as Penrith. Another curious point of the railway’s early history was the original connection
facing south to Clifton & Lowther station – necessitating a reversal to reach Penrith.
Penrith was not a destination in itself other than as a market town for the Eden Valley, and as a connection to the WCML. The route to Workington via The Cockermouth, Keswick and Penrith Railway for mineral traffic was the reason the line was built – that peaked in 1900 and all but ceased by the end of the
Great War. The CKPR was a oddity of a railway company in that it didn't run any trains – the LNWR conducted all traffic bar through minerals for which the NER had sole running rights as far as Cockermouth Goods. To avoid a reversal in Penrith, the “Redhills Loop” was created - a north facing junction immediately down of the Lowther Viaduct, and a double junction and a loop diving under the CKPR at 1 in 50, curving sharply west and climbing similarly to meet the Keswick road at Redhills junction. Its last recorded working was in 1929 with a through excursion train return from Keswick to Morecambe.
The NER had its own running line from Penrith No.1 box (CKPR junction) into its own bay platform (no.3) east of the WCML down line. The short platform could take a locomotive and 3 coaches but unlike the CKPR had no run round facilities. Answers on a postcard as to whether the locomotive propelled its train out or was released by a pilot. The NER had the use of Penrith’s tiny 59 foot turntable – enough for a J25 or a Cauliflower but too short for even an Ivatt 2MT. The Redhills loop was rather handy for turning longer locomotives, but the condition of the track forced its closure and lifting by 1933.
|RCH diagram showing the junctions|