|Looking West: A birds-eye view of Hartley Quarry|
Much of the discussion on this blog has described the function of Stainmore and the EVR, largely in the context of moving coke, coal and iron between Cumberland, Lancashire and County Durham as a through route. Like all railways of the time, it passed near to towns and villages that happened to be nearby, but with the typical railway-mania arrogance as to when it suited the railway; bringing to mind the old quote of the weary traveller at Dent who asked "wouldn't it have been better to build the station near the village?" to which the guard replied, " Yes madam, but we thought it better to build it near the railway”. In this neck of the woods, the civil engineering perhaps has the upper hand!
The main source of business generated within the line itself was undoubtedly Hartley Quarry, west of Kirkby Stephen and tucked behind Merrygill Viaduct. Quarrying of limestone began in the early 1920s, and developed in technology - a limekiln was fed by rail from above, with a loader and crusher set higher up the quarry, and a gas kiln was later installed. An internal rail system worked by 2 Hawthorn Leslie 0-4-0 tank engines - 3890 "Helen" and 2431 "Joe" and worked wagons up what I think were gradients of 1 in 16 or so in places to shift limestone, lime, coal around the system. I can't establish their fate - answers on a postcard!
|0-4-0 Hibberd Planet DM 'Elizabeth'|
A diesel mechanical 0-4-0 Hibberd Planet "Elizabeth" was purchased in 1962 and worked until the end of rail operations in 1975. Since then she has moved to Teeside until 1992 and then had hire spells on the Channel Tunnel construction, Poole Harbour, United Steels at Tysley. She returned home to Kirkby Stephen and now runs at Kirkby Stephen East as part of the operation fleet.
The quarry was accessed by a west facing headshunt at the east end of Merrygill viaduct, and a new signal box (also a block post) was installed in 1925. The signal diagram reveals that whilst the track was doubled, it was treated as a single line for signalling, as was Aitygill. Presumably this was a weight restriction (as per Belah) though this seems curious for a masonry viaduct that was itself doubled since the line was built. The box was a similar design to the box at Smardale that was removed around the same time, which begs the question whether the box was in fact moved?
Exchange sidings were accessed by LNER / BR locomotives, reportedly the wagons were tripped to Kirkby Stephen and formed into trainloads, most of which departed to the north east for use in the steel industry. The limited length of the headshunt may have been the restriction here.
Whilst Stainmore as a through route closed in 1962, a single line from Appleby East to Hartley remained in operation to serve the Army firing range and base at Warcop, the coal depot at Kirkby Stephen and Hartley Quarry. The line was cut back 200 yards or so west of Merrygill to allow access to the headshunt. Steam reigned until the very dying days of Carlisle Kingmoor, who sent whatever was left over down the S&C to Appleby to access the line via the NER link there. Ivatt 4 “Flying Pigs” were the most photographed on these workings, including the sole survivor 43106 happily still in service on the Severn Valley.
The quarry exchange sidings were accessed by BR until 1967, when movements were banned by BR such was the state of the track.
The formation of these workings was particularly unusual given the minimal track layout left in situ – the Warcop and Kirkby wagons were coupled north of the loco and the Hartley wagons to the south, with the loco sandwiched in the middle of an uncoupled train that could be fairly lengthy. Whilst unglamorous, it undoubtedly assisted retention of viaducts, bridges and KSE station itself for preservation which is flourishing, albeit slowly, at both KSE and Warcop.
The last train from Hartley was in October 1974. Workings however continued from Appleby to Warcop until 1989, which we will cover next time.