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Our long holiday in 2022 was spent in the far North of Scotland. We stopped off to break the return journey close to Carlisle at a B&B in a hamlet called Boustead Hill adjacent to the Solway Firth.
This gave me an opportunity to find out more about the Port Carlisle Branch which was built on the line of the old canal between Carlisle and Port Carlisle.
The Carlisle to Port Carlisle Canal opened in 1823. It was approximately 11 miles long. It linked the city of Carlisle to the Solway Firth. 
Prior to the 16th century, coal from mines at Ellen Foot (now Maryport) was brought up river to Carlisle and other locations by boat. However, in 1720, duties began to be levied on all goods carried around the coast by sea.As a result, the local coal trade switched to land-based transport.
It took the actions of a small group of local traders to secure an Act of Parliament in 1721, which allowed coastal duties to be waived. While the Act enabled them to build wharves and warehouses and erect cranes, even allowing the dredging of the river and the charging of tolls (for 31 years), it did not permit them to improve the river in any way. 
The Canal was a long time in coming … a public meeting which sought its construction did not take place until 21st May 1807. “The principal aim was to provide the city with a better and cheaper supply of coal, and a committee was appointed to push the plan forwards. They asked the engineer William Chapman to advise them, and he proposed a route from Carlisle to Maryport, which he had also promoted in 1795 as part of a coast to coast route. He estimated that it would cost between £90,000 and £100,000 to build, but conceded that a terminus near Bowness on the Solway Firth would be cheaper. £40,000 would pay for a canal suitable for 45-ton boats, but a larger canal, suitable for 90-ton boats that could cross the Irish Sea or reach the Forth and Clyde Canal, would cost between £55,000 and £60,000. The larger canal could still be part of a coast to coast route. The options as to the size and destination of the canal were put to subscribers by the committee. In August 1807 Chapman suggested that a ship canal for the Irish, Scottish and Liverpool trade, and a 50-ton canal to Maryport for the coal trade could both be built, with both finding support in the newspapers.”[3: p337–339, 456]
With a range of options on the table, the Committee sought a second opinion from Thomas Telford. He produced a report on 6th February 1808.
Telford “described a Cumberland Canal, which would allow sea-going vessels to reach Carlisle, but would also be part of a grander plan to link Carlisle to other parts of the country, and could be incorporated into the coast to coast waterway. He suggested that locks should be at least as big as those on the Forth and Clyde Canal, with a width of 20 feet (6.1 m) and a depth of water of 8 feet (2.4 m) over the lock cills. His canal would leave the Solway Firth about 1 mile (1.6 km) upstream of Bowness-on-Solway to reach Carlisle, and would cost £109,393. In order to provide a water supply, a navigable feeder would continue onwards to Wigton, which would be suitable for 7-foot (2.1 m) wide narrow boats, and would cost an additional £38,139. He also quoted two other prices for narrower canals, but noted that these would require goods to be transferred to smaller boats, with the inherent costs and inconvenience.” [3: p339]
Sadly, no further progress was made at that time.
After a further eight and a half years, another meeting was held at Carlisle. The result of that meeting on 7th October 1817 was that Chapman was asked “to produce a survey for a canal suitable for vessels of at least 70 tons. He was to ensure that it could become part of the coast to coast link. His canal started at Fisher’s Cross, subsequently named Port Carlisle, … It would feature locks 74 by 17 feet (22.6 by 5.2 m), while the channel would be 50 feet (15 m) wide by 8 feet (2.4 m) deep, and would cost £75,392. A link to Newcastle-upon-Tyne could be built on a smaller scale, and another link could be built along the valley of the Eden to serve slate quarries near Ullswater. His plan was accepted, money was raised locally, and an Act of Parliament was obtained in 1819, which authorised the Carlisle Canal to raise £80,000 in capital, and an extra £40,000 if required. The chairman of the committee, Dr John Heysham, suggested they look at other canals before starting work, and visits were made to the Lancaster Canal and the Forth and Clyde Canal. [3: p339-340]
Contracts to build the entire canal were awarded by early 1820. The Canal opened in March 1823. It was “11.25 miles (18.11 km) long, had a surface width of 54 feet (16 m) and was 8 feet (2.4 m) deep. At Fisher’s Cross, a basin 250 by 80 feet (76 by 24 m) had been built, which was connected to the Solway Firth by a sea lock with a long timber jetty. Seven more locks raised the level of the canal by 46 feet (14 m), and at Carlisle there was a second basin, 450 by 100 feet (137 by 30 m), complete with wharves and a warehouse. The locks were 78 feet (24 m) long and 18.5 feet (5.6 m) wide, and water supply was provided by a reservoir on Mill Beck near Grindale.” [4: p128]
The cost of construction was just over the estimated £80,000. [3: p341]
In 1825 the Carlisle & Liverpool Steam Navigation Company paid for the construction of an exclusive berth at Port Carlisle. The Canal Cpany purchased their own packet boat to transport passenger from Port Carlisle to Carlisle. Both passenger services commenced in 1826. Goods carried from Liverpool to Port Carlisle were carried along the canal by lighters. The Solway Hotel opened in Port Carlisle soon afterwards. [3: p341-342]
[img]https://rogerfarnworth.files.wordpress.com/2022/05/a-18.jpg?w=1024[/img]“The Solway at Port Carlisle” (1859) by Samuel Bough (1822 – 1878), National Galleries Scotland. Use permitted under a Creative Commons Licence. Times were beginning to change. … In “August 1824, there were public meetings in Newcastle, to consider again the idea of a canal to Carlisle, or possibly a railway. William Chapman, who had surveyed a route for a canal in 1796, suggested that the route was also suitable for a railway, and was asked to cost both options. He quoted £888,000 for a canal and £252,488 for a railway. A company was created to build a railway, although they did not obtain an Act of Parliament until 1829. There was support in Carlisle, and an agreement was reached that the railway would terminate at the canal basin.” [3: p342-343]
The opening of the railway to Newcastle in the 1830s brought a significant upturn in profits on the canal. Its imminent arrival resulted in another shipowner starting a service between Carlisle, Annan and Liverpool.
“However, the boom did not last long, and the company found that it was in competition with the railways. The Lancaster and Carlisle Railway was authorised in 1844, and was a direct threat to the steamer service and canal. The Maryport and Carlisle Railway had been authorised in 1837, but opening was delayed until 1845 by financial difficulties. It was extended to Whitehaven in early 1847 by the opening of the Whitehaven Junction Railway, and at the end of the year the Lancaster and Carlisle Railway opened. The Caledonian Railway opened in February 1848, running northwards from Carlisle to Scotland.” [3: p345-346]
“In March 1852, the company decided that the best option was to convert the canal into a railway, raised some money from shareholders and loan holders, and sought an Act of Parliament. Work began in June 1853, although the Act was not obtained until 3 August. An omnibus service was used to ferry passengers between Carlisle and the steamers at Port Carlisle, and the canal closed on 1 August 1853.” [3: p347-348].
The Act both wound up the canal company and created the Port Carlisle Dock and Railway Company. Further details about the history of the Canal can be found here 
Construction was completed within a year and opened to goods traffic on 12 May 1854 and passengers on 22 June. 
The Port Carlisle Railway Company had filled in the canal basin at Carlisle and built sidings and a passenger terminal there. Passenger services between Port Carlisle and Carlisle were short-lived. Two years later the line from Carlisle to Silloth opened. The through passenger service to Port Carlisle was replaced by a horse-worked service between Drumburgh and Port Carlisle. This horse-drawn service lasted until 1914 when it was replaced by steam-power. In due course a steam railmotor service was introduced which lasted until the branch closed in 1932. 
The Route of the Line
[img]https://rogerfarnworth.files.wordpress.com/2022/05/a-21.jpg?w=1000[/img]The rail network in Carlisle in 1914 as drawn by the Midland Railway. The Port Carlisle line left the Caledonian main line at Port Carlisle Junction (top left of this drawing), passed through Canal Junction and then set off West just South of the North British Railway Engine Shed shown in the far top left of the drawing. [img]https://rogerfarnworth.files.wordpress.com/2022/05/b-22.jpg?w=640[/img]Wikiwand comments: “Port Carlisle Junction was a railway junction between the lines of the former Caledonian Railway and North British Railway companies lines to the north of Carlisle Citadel station in, what is now, Cumbria, England. It opened in July 1863. Port Carlisle Junction railway station was a very short lived station that first came into use in July 1863 and there was some untimetabled use until 29 October 1863, but the station closed as early as 1 July 1864. After closure, the up (northbound) platform was retained for use by those crews requiring change and also for passing messages on to crews.” [38: p78][39: p80][40: p16][img]https://rogerfarnworth.files.wordpress.com/2022/05/a-22.jpg?w=1024[/img]The route of the Port Carlisle Railway. The Port Carlisle Branch left the main Caledonian Railway line at Port Carlisle Junction, which was just to the North of the River Caldew, and curved way to the Southwest.
Extract from the OS 6″ Series published in 1901. Carlisle Goods Station can be seen on the West side of the extract. 
Satellite image showing the same area as the 1901 map above. Point ‘A’ marks the junction with the route of the Branch sketched in red. [img]https://rogerfarnworth.files.wordpress.com/2022/05/a.jpg?w=921[/img]This image is a closer view of the line of the old railway and shows the location of the junction and the route of the line. Although the line has been closed for many years its alignment is still dictating land boundaries! [Google Earth][img]https://rogerfarnworth.files.wordpress.com/2022/05/a-1.jpg?w=866[/img]The remains of the railway embankment. This picture shows the rail alignment and is taken from the junction of Willow Holme Road and the access road to Carlisle Wastewater Treatment Works. A historic lane was bridged by the railway at this approximate location. Trees have colonized the embankment. [Google Streetview][img]https://rogerfarnworth.files.wordpress.com/2022/05/c-1.jpg?w=974[/img]A short distance to the West, Carlisle Corporation Sewage Works was access by means of a bridge which carried the Port Carlisle Railway. the railway is indicated by the redline at high level over the access road. [Google Streetview][img]https://rogerfarnworth.files.wordpress.com/2022/05/a-2.jpg?w=759[/img]Just to the West of the Sewage Works was a Manure Works which had its own siding. On this map extract also from the OS 6″ 1901 survey it can be seen that this immediate area was given over to railway sidings and the North British Railway Engine Shed. The myriad of tracks entering the extract from the bottom right are those associated with Carlisle Goods Station. The branch we are following is now marked as the ‘Carlisle & Silloth Branch’. This is the better name for the branch in 1901. As we will see later, the line was extended beyond Port Carlisle on a different alignment and the line to Port Carlisle became a short branch from the longer line. The line leaves the map extract in the bottom left. [img]https://rogerfarnworth.files.wordpress.com/2022/05/b.jpg?w=754[/img]As this current satellite image shows the area of the motive power depot has reverted to nature, colonized by many trees. Not on our line, but worthy of note, is the viaduct crossing the River Eden. [img]https://rogerfarnworth.files.wordpress.com/2022/05/c-2.jpg?w=640[/img]The viaduct mentioned in the notes relating to the image immediately above. It used to carry trains on the “Waverley route” across the River Eden at Carlisle. The trains crossing the viaduct ran from Carlisle to Edinburgh through the Scottish Lowlands. © Copyright Malc McDonald and licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons Licence – (CC BY-SA 2.0). [img]https://rogerfarnworth.files.wordpress.com/2022/05/b-23.jpg?w=598[/img]Nick Catford writing about the Post Carlisle Junction (the ‘Canal Junction’ on the 6″ OS Map above) on the Disused Stations website comments: “MR Compound 4-4-0 No. 1032 passing Canal Junction signal box in June 1908 with the 10.30 from Edinburgh Waverley. In the background the disused up platform of Port Carlisle Junction station can clearly be seen. At this date it had already been closed for 44 years. 1032 gave over 45 years service before being withdrawn from Nottingham shed, 16A, on 31.3.1952 and cut up at Derby
works shortly afterwards. Photo from Bill Lynn collection.” [img]https://rogerfarnworth.files.wordpress.com/2022/05/a-3.jpg?w=853[/img]West of the NBR Shed the line can be seen running roughly East-West before swinging to the North and crossing the line of Hadrian’s Wall. The NBR Shed was built across the line of the wall! [img]https://rogerfarnworth.files.wordpress.com/2022/05/b-1.jpg?w=832[/img]The line of the railway is still clear on the modern satellite images. It appears as a line of trees on the matching satellite image which curve to the North before running through what is now a farm premises and then passing under the modern A689. [img]https://rogerfarnworth.files.wordpress.com/2022/05/c-3.jpg?w=679[/img]Looking South from the A689 along the approximate line of the railway which is shown by the red line. [Google Streetview][img]https://rogerfarnworth.files.wordpress.com/2022/05/c-4.jpg?w=688[/img]Looking North from the A689 along the old railway alignment. The hedge visible on the left of this image appears to be along the boundary of what was railway land. The red line shows the approximate route of the line. [Google Streetview][img]https://rogerfarnworth.files.wordpress.com/2022/05/a-4.jpg?w=819[/img]The railway then curved round to the West, crossing the line of Hadrian’s Wall once again. Towards the left-hand side of this map extract the road from Carlisle to Port Carlisle crossed the line. Incidentally, don’t get too excited by the presence of a distillery close to the line. This was actually Grinsdale Tar Distillery which had its own short siding. The Bone Manure Works shared the connection to the main line and had a trailing connection to the Distillery’s siding. [img]https://rogerfarnworth.files.wordpress.com/2022/05/b-2.jpg?w=680[/img]Once again, the old railway’s alignment can clearly be made out on modern satellite images. The road has not been realigned and the bridge remains in position. To the West of the bridge the rail alignment is still visible as a line of trees. The site of the tar distillery and the manure works is now a caravan/motorhome sales establishment. [img]https://rogerfarnworth.files.wordpress.com/2022/05/img_20220514_100411797_hdr.jpg?w=1024[/img]The southern approach to the bridge carrying the road and cycle route over the old railway. [My photograph, 14th May 2022][img]https://rogerfarnworth.files.wordpress.com/2022/05/img_20220514_100313320_hdr.jpg?w=1024[/img]The Northern road approach to the old bridge. [My photograph, 14th May 2022][img]https://rogerfarnworth.files.wordpress.com/2022/05/c-5.jpg?w=757[/img]An extract from satellite imagery showing the site of the road bridge with the approximate line of the railway under the bridge marked in red. [Google Maps][img]https://rogerfarnworth.files.wordpress.com/2022/05/e.jpg?w=673[/img]Two images of Grinsdale Bridge – the first was taken just prior to closure of the line, the second was taken in 2003, (c) Brian Irwin. The image directly below was taken from approximately the same location as the image from 2003. [img]https://rogerfarnworth.files.wordpress.com/2022/05/img_20220514_100511696.jpg?w=972[/img]This final view at this location shows the view from the access road to the caravan centre shows the West elevation of the bridge which has been sealed with a brick wall. [My photograph, 14th May 2022][img]https://rogerfarnworth.files.wordpress.com/2022/05/a-5.jpg?w=867[/img]Continuing to the North West the line served another Bone Manure Works, which also had its own private siding and passed under an accommodation bridge. [img]https://rogerfarnworth.files.wordpress.com/2022/05/b-3.jpg?w=815[/img]The alignment of the railway is a little less distinct on modern satellite imagery. I have added the red line to show the route. AS can be seen the site of the Bone Manure Works has developed in size. It is, however, no longer primarily an agricultural establishment.[img]https://rogerfarnworth.files.wordpress.com/2022/05/c-6.jpg?w=785[/img]The building shown from above in the last image. Rattlingate Lane is paved in concrete from the North to the line of the old railway (which runs behind the buildings in this picture. The site is now used by the Scouts as ‘Rattlingate Scout Activity Centre’. [Google Streetview][img]https://rogerfarnworth.files.wordpress.com/2022/05/a-6.jpg?w=692[/img]The line turns North to pass through Kirkandrews-upon-Eden where there was a railway station with a single platform on the East side of the line. At Kirkandrews, the line crossed Hadrian’s Wall and passed under the road again. [img]https://rogerfarnworth.files.wordpress.com/2022/05/b-4.jpg?w=671[/img]The route can clearly be seen on modern satellite images. [img]https://rogerfarnworth.files.wordpress.com/2022/05/c-7.jpg?w=972[/img]The cutting remains. This picture is taken from the fence bordering the minor rod to the South of Cycle Route 72 and looks towards the Southeast. [My photograph, 14th May 2022][img]https://rogerfarnworth.files.wordpress.com/2022/05/d.jpg?w=883[/img]Kirkandrew-upon-Eden Railway station in use in the 1950s, (c) Brian Irwin. [img]https://rogerfarnworth.files.wordpress.com/2022/05/e-1.jpg?w=794[/img]Kirkandrews-upon-Eden Railway Station buildings in private hands in October 2016. [Google Streetview]Wikipedia tells us that Kirkandrews-upon-Eden railway station “sat close to the village in the cut of the old canal; it had a single platform, and a shelter. … A substantial station building was present. A large seed warehouse was located at the station. In common with other stations on the line, it had its name picked out in sea shells on a raised area opposite the station building.” 
Continuing on from Kirkandrews the old line curved round to the Northwest. As can be seen on the next extract from the 6″ OS Maps of 1901, there are a couple of things which show that the old railway line followed the Carlisle Canal along most of its length.
[img]https://rogerfarnworth.files.wordpress.com/2022/05/a-7.jpg?w=652[/img]Northwest of Kirkandrews Station the railway and the older canal diverge for a short distance. This is one of a few locations along the line to Port Carlisle where the historic route of the canal was in evidence on the ground after the construction of the railway. North of Monkhill was further evidence of the old canal – a lock keeper’s cottage remained alongside the railway where it passed under the lane between Monkhill and Beaumont. 
This article first appeared on www.modelrailforum.com
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