Monday, 2 February 2015

Focus on Penrith - by Ben Yates

PENRITH is the northern terminus of the route, but the story of the evolution of the EVR in the north lakes and its relations is both little known and surprisingly interesting.

The West Coast mainline had reached Carlisle in 1846, passing through the old market town of Penrith on its 10 mile descent from Shap to the gentler grades towards the Scots border. It was another 16 years before the EVR showed up. The initial plan was for the EVR to run a parallel line to Penrith, though this was abandoned during the EVR's construction when the LNWR agreed running powers. The need to cross 2 rivers would have been significant to EVR, whilst presumably LNWR didn't see the commercial threat they saw in the Midland seeking such running powers northward.

Oddly, the initial connection of 1862 was by a steeply graded connection facing south to Clifton & Lowther station, miles from Penrith, and requiring a reversal. CKPR has just received its Act of Parliament, and within a year a north-facing link installed; a new station at Clifton Moor and direct running to Penrith. The original chord was barely used and lifted by 1874.
CKPR ran into Penrith in 1864, creating the final link in a cross-country coke and ore artery providing 50 years of heavy mineral traffic. To avoid the reversal of a train at Penrith and the turning of 2 locos (the load to Keswick was just 11 wagons per engine) a direct link from the WCML to the Keswick line  at Eamont Junction was constructed by 1866 and known as the "Redhills Curve". The double road dived under CKPR, itself on a climb exceeding Shap (!) and scrambled at more than  1 in 50 to join at Redhills junction. The mineral traffic peaked just before WW1 and tailed off fairly rapidly in the depression and Redhills curve was barely used, though as a triangular junction was used to turn engines longer than Penrith's pitiful 50 foot turntable that could take an 0-6-0 but nothing more. The end rails were eventually taken up in 1936 with the track unsafe.

The arrangements at Eamont Junction included a long pair of goods loops that were worked on a "Permitted Block" basis - multiple goods trains could use the loops without separation by signals, on sight. Given there were at least 3 famous runaways through Penrith from Shap, loco crews were understandably nervous at being able to bring an unfitted train to a stand. Spare too a thought for the signalman replacing the lamps in the huge bracket signal for the curve and loops perched on the end of Eamont Viaduct, swinging above the gorge!
                                                                                                            Penrith itself remains an elegant station on a sweeping curve. In its heyday it boasted a substantial yard, 3 boxes and a through platform (4) for CKPR and a short bay (3) for the EVR. Each company extravagantly approached their platforms by an independent line from Penrith No.1 box. There was also a 2 road shed, built for the LNWR locos for CKPR services, but the NER were later to stable and service an engine overnight.
The operation of NER services remains unclear. The bay was barely long enough for 3 coaches and a loco, so an arriving service must have backed out, been released by a pilot or used either the Keswick or down main platform. Any information gladly received!

More Soon. . . . . . . . . . .

1 comment:

  1. You're doin' a fantastic job there young Ben, keep goin' Squire, love the screenies, keep 'em comin'......