COCKERMOUTH HERITAGE GROUP NEWS Cockermouth and its Railway Connections, part 2 − The Cockermouth to Penrith Railway

We now continue with details of

the completion of the railway from Cockermouth to Penrith. This railway was to be known as the Cockermouth, Keswick and Penrith Railway (CK&P)

The railway was built as a mineral line between 1862 and 1864 to establish a vital link in the railway chain, which connected the two-great iron- producing areas of West Cumberland and Durham. Pig iron was taken from West Cumberland and coke brought from the North East. The local coal was not suitable at this time to produce coke for the steel industry. Improvements in the making of coke from West Cumberland coal saw mineral traffic from the North East declining quickly after 1910 and disappeared completely by the mid- 1920s.

The line connected the west via Penrith to the direct route through the Pennines over Stainmore to the Darlington area in the east. The line from Workington to Cockermouth was already built and had operated since 1847.

The construction of the line between Cockermouth and Penrith commenced in May 1862. The line opened for goods traffic on the 4th November1864 and to passengers on the 2nd January 1865.

A new station was built nearer the town centre about a mile from the original Railway Station built in 1847. It stood on what was until recently the fire headquarters and surrounding area. The access to the new station had to be provided by the

movement to other parts of the country, with the added bonus of timesaving by rail journey over previous forms of transport. The rail companies provided Sunday evening excursions to Bassenthwaite Lake and Keswick. The research done by the late Bernard Bradbury showed that on the 5th August 1934, seven trains were required to carry passengers on a particular Sunday evening. A popular outing was to take the train out and walk back along the Cockermouth road from either Embleton or Bassenthwaite Lake.

The railway station built for the Cockermouth, Penrith Railway viewed from Harris Park, circa 1920

townspeople. A building was demolished in the early 1860s on Main Street to make way for what was to become Station Street and Station Road.

With the opening of the new passenger station, the original station site became the goods depot.

The CK&P was not an operating railway. The Stockton and Darlington Railway worked goods services with the London and North Western Railway running the passenger services. This arrangement continued until the LMS grouping in 1923. With the decline of the main role traffic by the mid-1920s the line was then dependent upon local passengers and freight supplemented by its tourism. On the platforms, a sign read Cockermouth for Buttermere.

The coming of the railway had enabled freedom of

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The railway brought a reduction in prices, for example, coal was reduced from 40p per ton to 7.5p per ton.

Fresh fish came direct from Grimsby and Fleetwood. Fresh fruit and vegetables came from Manchester’s wholesale market. The local newspaper was distributed by rail throughout West Cumberland.

On the 1st July 1964, goods services ceased and on the 18th April 1966, the Workington to Keswick passenger services were withdrawn. The line between Keswick and Penrith continued for six more years and services were withdrawn on the 4th March 1972.

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