Tuesday, 3 May 2016
Ravenstonedale - Where??
RAVENSTONEDALE STATION served the village of Newbiggin on Lune, and indeed was so named until 1877, renamed presumably to avoid confusion with Newbiggin by the Sea in Northumberland. Ravenstonedale itself is a valley some two miles toward Kirkby Stephen, so query whether the overall level of understanding was improved!
The station marked the end of the relatively easy 7 miles (by Stainmore standards - a ruling gradient of 111!) through the Lune Valley to its source, and the steepening of the climb for the last mile to Sandy Bank Summit at 889ft, just shy of Shap. It was also the end of the double track section from 1931 - the drop in minerals traffic meant this part of the line could be worked as one long section to Kirkby Stephen West, and the box at Sandy Bank which was formerly the end of the double track was taken out of use and cut back by a mile.
Unusual for the route, the station has staggered platforms but otherwise is of similar architecture to others. The station was well known for its beautiful garden. Thankfully it survives as a private dwelling, though balancing perilously above the A685 which now occupies the trackbed to Tebay.
Passenger traffic was light - the typical working was a solitary coach hauled by a J21 or an Ivatt / Standard Class 2 from Tebay to connect with the Darlington - Penrith service at Kirkby Stephen.
The station closed to passenger traffic in 1952 (as with neighboring Gaisgill to the west) but the line remained open not just for minerals traffic, but for through summer workings to Blackpool from the North East, which at 8 coaches were double headed throughout.
The other regular passenger working was an unadvertised working from the North East to Ulverston, serving the Miner's convalescent home and was usually fortnightly. This often saw a mixture of rolling stock from the bottom drawer, and on occasions an LNER Sentinel Steam Railcar which must have been a fireman's nightmare on such gradients!
Not to be outdone by the Great Central, Phil has kindly produced a set of 16T steel mineral wagons for the route, which can be seen in the goods yard and on the coal drops.
More Soon. . . . . . . . . . .