The building of the railway line through shap was an important time in shaps history ,although it did bring with it a few problems ,as told in the christian guardian (and church of England magazine )of 1845 , pages 68 & 69
" it (the railway line) passes through the mountainous district of westmorland called shap fells .the line is singularly alpine and beautiful,winding through lovely picturesque valleys then along wild and barren mountain scenery.It will form,when completed,one of the most enjoyable lines of railroad ,perhaps,in the kingdom.
The first doings of the workmen were anything but orderly .the neighbourhood for several miles round was filled with terror .shops were broken open ,sheep slaughtered,cows milked!! everything was frightfully lawless and disorderly.In one locality near shap there are about 5oo men at work,and in a few weeks ,the number will probably be doubled.the men have formed themselves into a colony on shap fells where they have built for themselves their sod huts ." the article goes on to say how plans were being made to build churches and schools for them
The first sod was cut on shap summit in July 1844 ,work was completed in less than three years.
The line opened on December 17Th 1846 and government inspector captain coddington reported that the engine did 20 mph up the shap gradient. (a full page section on the railway complete with pictures is available to view now ,see main menu )
THE A6 OVER SHAP FELL
In the years before the motorway ,the A6 over shap fell was the main route north,but it was frequently blocked for long periods through winter. this photo was taken on one of the better days!!
Ann ward ratcliffe wrote in 1794 that, some years previous a few scattered towns subscribed £30 and a way was cut over shap fells wide enough for one horse but so deep that the snow on each side was above the riders head!!
The snow did get quite deep at times !!
The old toll-bar cottage which stood on the a6 south of shap,in years gone by travellers would have to pay a toll crossing shap fell.
Shap was probably a welcome stop for weary travellers in olden times though as george head describes in his 1836 book the locals weren't slow to take advantage,describing how travellers travelling to shap wells ,unaware of where it was often ended up in shap.
" The unwary traveller,on his way from Kendal to shap wells,receives the first notice of this ruse de guerre,or mistake,or what not ,by the sudden halt of the coach at the door of the public house. Here , before he has time to look about him,his luggage is thrown on the ground; when-everything lying in the middle of the road-the guard blows his horn,the horses spring forward,and he is left alone.
At this particular crisis,like a spider in his web,out steps the landlord from his bar,and with a smiling countenance propounds,in the way of terms to the stranger,a neat post chaise and able horses;which latter it usually requires an hour to get ready,whether it be necessary to catch them at grass or bring them in from the hayfield."
Shaps stones are mentioned in several books from the last 300 years and there seems to have been an avenue of stones at one time,which were described as the longest dracontium in Britain,a druids temple and a danish monument among other things .they seem to have been as significant as avebury is in the south . Sadly these stones no longer remain apart from a few scattered remnants and parts of the stone circles .Various reasons are given by different authors for their demise .
The following is an extract from the penny magazine of the society for the diffusion of useful knowledge dated march 7 1840 : It is now nearly thirty years ago since one of the few remaining temples or monuments of the ancient druids ceased to exist,save in the chronicled pages of a few local and antiquarian writers and in the memories of the present generation of inhabitants of the surrounding district,and of those strangers that business or curiosity may have attracted to those parts .for when the waste or common lands were enclosed by act of parliament about the time above stated,most of the stones of which this monumental curiosity were composed were blown into fragments by the powder of gunpowder,and employed by the inhabitants in erecting rude stone fences . So that the the stranger who reads the history of westmorland,or any other that treats of this druidical monument,and is thereby induced to visit the scene ,would experience nothing but disappointment when some rude hind pointed out to him where ""the girt staynes yance stuyd"".
The article also goes on : this monument was situated a little to the south of the village,and consisted of two irregular rows of huge unshapely stones,though differing very materially in size,for the largest were ten or eleven feet high,and of nearly the same thickness,while the smaller ones were not half these dimensions. The two rows were not quite parallel,the distance apart varying from twenty to something over thirty yards,while the distance between the stones for the most part was ten or twelve yards, the entire length of rows being a little more than half a mile.
In 1823s"scenes and recollections of fly fishing in northumberland,cumberland and westmorland "by william andrew chatto "it says shaps stones were formerly to be seen by the side of the road,but within these last seven or eight years they have been broken up to form gateposts and many of the fragments may be observed built into the walls on each side of the turnpike. In 1853s blacks picturesque guide to the lakes it tells of how many of the stones have been "barbarously" carried off for building purposes ( a full section on shaps stones complete with pictures is now available see main menu )
THE GOGGLEBY STONE ,one of the few remnants of shaps avenue of stones
Remains of a 7-8th century settlement were excavated prior to the buiding of peggy nut croft in 2000 ,the remains of 3 dwellings were found.
In scenes and recollections of fly fishing by chatto (1834). Shap is described as one of the market towns of westmorland consisting of a line of houses, chiefly cottages built at considerable intervals on each side of the road and extending about a mile in length.The situation is elevated and being unsheltered by any hills immediately near to it is exposed to every wind that blows! (nothing changed there then !) The frequent rain driven by the unmitigated force of the wind against the side of the houses,causes a dampth to strike through the thickest walls,and makes it rather difficult to find a perfectly dry lodging room in the comfortless inn where the coach stops. It also says, there is good pasture where oats are grown but only in good seasons.
The following passage is from ;1731s "magna brittannica et hibernia "by thomas cox ,vicar of bromfield,essex .
"hep,hepe, or as now tis called shap ,a small village,once famous for a small monastery,of which we shall hereafterin its place particularly speak ,but now of no note,save for certain great stones in the form of pyramids,(some of them nine foot high and fourteen thick) almost in a direct line,and at equal distances for a mile together.They seem intended to be memorials of some action or other,but distance of time hath made it impossible to find out the occasion having no such history of this county. Robert de vipont, a parliamentary baron,and a person much in favour with king john ,was lord of this town as part of his barony of appleby ,and it seems upon some occasion laid up his arms (for he was a very warlike person )in the abbey of hep .He died indebted to king hen.111 reg 12 in the sum of 199 pounds ,11 shillings 6 pence five great horses and five tan of wine;whereupon the king after his death ,sent his precept to the abbot of hep to deliver up all the arms belonging to said robert,which were in his custody ,to this bailiff to be kept in his castles .roger lord clifford 4th died possessed of this manor 13 rich.11 .but how it came into his family from the viponts we have not discovered as yet".
There is evidence that the Romans were in the shap area as 19 gold and 50 silver roman coins were found just outside shap,these coins were attributed to Vespasian and Domitian.
There is also evidence that horse racing and boxing took place in the shap area, fistiana :or the oracle of the ring by frank lewis dowling informs us that molineux young (the morocco prince) a famous boxer of his time fought at shap on 18 June 1839 when he beat renwick for a purse of £100 ,the fight lasted 65 minutes over 14 rounds .
The great william wordsworth wrote about lord clifford who was in command of the army at the battle of flodden in 1513 who before he died in 1523 in his last will wished to be buried in shap if he died in westmorland and bolton if he died in yorkshire (bolton won) so shap can't have been too bad a place back then.
In Pigots directory of 1828-29 Shap is shown as having 6 pubs-the new inn ,landlord Joseph Farrer the queens head-Thomas Walker,the crown inn-Thomas Pollard,the bulls head-William Castley,the greyhound-Mary Richardson and the kings arms which also acted as the post office -John Garnett. The royal mail coach from Manchester called at the kings arms at 3am each morning on its way to Carlisle and at 10pm at night on its way from Carlisle to Manchester ,the royal Bruce coach also called at the kings arms at 5pm going north and at 9am going south . The new times coach called at the greyhound half an hour earlier than the royal Bruce passed through Shap
Speeding seems to have been a problem way back in the 19th century as well as today , a newspaper report dated November 18th 1829 tells of how -the stage coaches are now running in opposition to each other at the rate of 15mph ,and that the previous week the "new times" coach and the "fair trader " coach galloped from shap to penrith ,a distance of 11 miles in 40 minutes . Magistrates summoned the drivers ,and as a result the new times coachman was dismissed.
bonnie prince charlie
.In December 1745 the fleeing prince charlie and his Jacobite army passed through cumbria heading north ,after getting as far as derby, they were being pursued back to scotland by the duke of cumberland's army . Upon reaching the foot of shap fell the Scots had problems with their carts losing some in the river and others being unable to climb the hill, men were offered sixpence for each cannonball they carried over the fell to shap in order to lighten the loads on the carts and not wanting to leave any behind ,this resulted in 200 cannonballs being brought to shap where colonel Roy Stewart and his battalion were. The entry in prince charlie's household book for that week is : '15 Sunday at Kendal 16 Monday,17,at shape Tuesday to ale wine and other,provisions £4 17s -the landlady for the use of her house £2 2s. n.b the landlady a sad wife for imposing ,18 at penrith Wednesday,Clifton skirmish the macpheresons.
The abbey was founded by thomas de tal son of gospatric. The abbey (which was to be precise only a house of canons at this time ) was first sited at preston patrick(which derives its name from patric son of thomas ) which is s/e of kendal in the twelth century,it was then moved to magdalene vale where it remains and was endowed with the lands of karl or karlwath, robert de vipont first lord of westmorland confirmed this grant on april 24th in the 13th year of king john . The abbot of shap from 1458-1505 was richard redman who's family seat was at levens near kendal and who's great grandfather was speaker of the house of commons . The abbey surrendered in january 1541 ,upon dissolution it contained 20 monks and its revenues were valued at £166.10s.6d per annum ,the last abbot , a richard evenwoode secured a pension of £40 per annum the abbeys lands passed to sir thomas wharton then on to the lowther family (for full section on shap abbey see main index)
Keld chapel dates from the 15th century,it was used as a dwelling (records show that on the 18th of november 1698 john bownass of kemp howe sold the chapel for £5.10.0 to grace hayton and her daughter margaret of oxley bank) and was a cowshed before being presented to the national trust in 1918 by sir samuel h scott
The m6 motorway
The m6 which bypasses shap meant a welcome relief from the endless traffic through the village,although businesses such as cafes which relied on this trade suffered. The idea of a motorway to relieve the problems of the existing a6 route over shap fell (especially in winter ) were discussed in the early 1960s. Several routes for the section of motorway between lancaster and penrith were discussed before three alternatives were proposed in 1962 ,these routes included one with plans for tunnels under hucks brow, the route finally selected was done so with considerations of several factors including cost,the terrain and the weather in winter .
The engineers -scott,wilson,kirkpatrick & partners were appointed to design the route for the north western road construction unit and work commenced in the late 1960s ,the 9 mile section between thrimby and tebay cost 7.9 million pounds and was opened in october 1970 . The gradient from shap summit to tebay is 1 in 25 ,as is the gradient from shap summit to hackthorpe , the highpoint at shap summit at 1050 feet ( 320 metres ) is one of the highest on a motorway in the uk (only being surpassed by the m62 over saddleworth moor). The motorway near shap also has a unique feature ,between shap and tebay is the only unconnected local road running down the central reservation (the scout green road ).
Work progressing on the m6 motorway between kendal and shap
In 1923 S Brighouse of ormskirk (coroner for lancashire ) wrote.-
I LOVE SHAP
If you want a small smack of happiness ,you ought to fly from city houses, and city streets and artificial talk, and hot rooms ,and smoke and stink.
Main street may look sleepy,the shap folk may seem indolent,pick up your kitbag ,leave dinner jacket behind,thick soled boots,a stick with a crooked handle,a joyous heart,are all the requisites.
Climb up the nab between hardendale and oddendale,inhale the breezes,whether they come north from bonnie scotlland ,south from shap fells,east from the pennines,or west from lakeland.
And as the sun goes to rest,leaving bars of gold,russet brown and purple on the mountain side ,so go you to the simple fare,the natural life,the indolent folk, the winds will lull you to sleep.
I LOVE SHAP
I will try to keep adding to this page as often as i can but for a start i will list you some publications in which shap gets a mention of some sort .I will add to it as i find more : books researched for this page ;
The christian guardian(and church of england magazine) 1845
The penny magazine of the society for the diffusion of useful knowledge 1840
Magna britannica et hibernia vol 6 westmorland by thomas cox 1731
Fistiana :or the oracle of the ring by frank lewis dowling 1841
History and antiquities of westmorland by joseph nicholson and richard burn 1777
A guide to the lakes in cumberland wetmorland and lancashire by thomas west 1821
A history of northumberland in three parts by john hodgson 1840
The worship of the serpent traced throughout the world by john bathurst deane 1830
A topographical dictionary of england by samuel lewis & r creighton 1831
Blacks picturesque guide to the lakes by adam & charles black 1853
Scenes and recollections of fly fishing in northumberland ,cumberland and westmorland. by william andrew chatto 1834
shappe in bygone days by j whiteside
John aubrey ,
local food historian ivan day has a website devoted to historic cooking visitwww.historicfood.com/portal.htm for more info . And shap has a local history society who have their own website www.shaphistorysociety.org.uk
another good source of information : the later records relating to north westmorland by john f curwen 1932 www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=43525