Monday, 17 August 2015

Oh Dairy Me! - By Ben Yates

Ivatt Class 4 2-6-0 43049 removing a milk tanker from the factory at Appleby 15th April 1965
(Image Courtesy of GTR on Flickr)

  ONE of the big changes the railways brought to society was the ability to transport perishable goods the length of the country – aside from the general development of cities and the industrial revolution, railway mania is credited with the boon of Fish & Chips! Fish, Meat and Milk were often treated as class 1 traffic – such legends as the “Flying Kipper” from Aberdeen to London behind a V2, and the late afternoon Carlisle to London Maiden Goods – mainly scotch meat - was a Duchess turn to their end, and indeed was so heavy was regularly piloted southwards over Shap – a rare operation.

  No self-respecting preserved line is complete without a line of milk churns on the platform, but tank wagons for milk arrived in 1927/28, and 6 wheeled versions became standard within a decade, with around 600 built. These held 3000 gallons on just a 12ft chassis with an all in weight of around 25 tons – comparable to a bogie coach, and hence the third axle. This would carry the equivalent of 175 churns, so it is obvious to see the efficiencies they generated.

  The Eden Valley was a significant area of dairy production, and Express Dairies established a creamery at Appleby, which was used to supply Hendon in London. Operational details are sketchy – we assume this traffic ran via the S&C and then the Midland to London, but there seems little to support this by way of photographs, though this may be explained by running in the small hours! It was normal practice to run tank wagons at the head of passenger trains, the wagons being vacuum braked for that purpose. 

 There is little in the way of record of milk traffic over Stainmore, other than comments from a driver of a train from Barnard Castle explaining the significant additional load of adding a tank to his train, and how it winded his engine on the climb. It is certainly plausible that milk tanks ran over the line either to the sizable yard at Penrith or via Tebay, certainly when diversions were in place. I’m sure we can come up with some scenarios to fit, and doubtless with some bovine puns creeping in…!

  One of the great frustrations and joys of route building is trying to work out how something looked with just a map and no photograph. Appleby Dairy is one such place, but Phil managed to unearth a wonderful shot from 1965 of an Ivatt 4 marshalling tanks(see opening image). I assume this was a short working from Appleby yard given the absence of a brake van. Another curiosity is the absence of a cross-over, which suggests the dairy may have been within Station Limits of Appleby West box – answers on a postcard as I can’t locate a signalling diagram! 

  Anyway,  here are some screenshots of my attempt to replicate the above photo:

  And for those who are wondering where on the route this actually is, it is actually on the Settle and Carlisle line, south of Appleby. Before you ask, no we're not including the S&C in our route. We're not quite that mad! However, on the approach to Appleby East, on the Eden Valley line, there is a formation where a proposed south-facing link between the Eden Valley and the Midland route was to be laid. The plan was dropped. This empty piece of land is where the dairy is located. It is clearly visible from the EVR, as the below image illustrates:
The proposed junction off the Eden Valley line to the left. In the background can be seen the dairy. (Scanned from The Eden Valley Railway by Robert Western. Image courtesy of John Mallon)
More Soon. . . . . . . . . . . .


  1. I have a signalling diagram of Appleby West which confirms that the dairy was within the station limits and accessed via a ground frame with an electric release.

  2. Hi David

    Thanks for your help which is much appreciated. If it's the diagram in the S&C structures book then Phil located that and has sent me a copy. If it's not, then a copy would be much appreciated.



  3. Hi, it is wonderful. Thanks to share with us.

    Milk Production