shaps last stationmaster
A picture of shap station showing shap's last stationmaster jim mason with a plaque for best station (published with kind permission of j.mason) .
This photo is published by kind permission and is copyright of les pitcher and phantasrail -more great photos of steam trains from the uk and around the world can be seen at www.phantasrail.co.uk and www.phantasrail.com .this photo shows a steam train going through shap station ,easter 1964.
history of the railway through shap
If the famous railway engineer George Stephenson had got his way ,there would never have been a railway through shap. In a report to the whitehaven committee of the caledonian junction railway in august 1837, Stephenson said that the line should leave Lancaster and cross morecambe bay ,then crossing the duddon sands west of ulverston before heading north through ravenglass and whitehaven.
In his opinion the line between lancaster and carlisle by way of penrith would be very expensive because of the high country of shap, and that a tunnel would be required, also saying that the great length of winters , the quantity of snow falling and the length of time it remains on the ground ,coupled with the ice on the rails retarding the engines ,he considered it an unsurmountable difficulty to the passing of shap ridge , and in his opinion , a line across these hills would be interrupted by the severity of winter for weeks together .
Even women were exploited as the rival factions argued which route was the better,the following was written about it :- it was asserted that the towns on the coast possessed higher samples of female beauty than the towns on the more direct route,and inferred from thence a lucrative source of income from the visits of prodigal bachelors,who would make use of the railway to hunt up the quarters of their delilahs and sacheressas.
But rival engineer Joseph Locke hammered home his argument with the argument that if ninety miles could be made with as little cost as sixty,no one could maintain that ninety miles would be kept in repair for the same cost as sixty! as little could anyone expect to travel over that increased distance without a proportionate loss both of money and time.
Seven years later on 6 June 1844 the Lancaster-carlisle railway bill passed through both houses of parliament ,and engineers Joseph Locke and john Edward errington were appointed joint engineers commissioned by the Lancaster and carlisle railway company to design and construct the route from oxenholme to carlisle ,Locke was chosen ahead of George Stephenson as his route was more direct ,whereas Stephenson preferred the option of the circuitous route via the coast . The greater part of the work was undertaken by errington due to Locke's other commitments ,the civil engineering contractors appointed were john Stephenson,William Mackenzie and Thomas brassey with William tite as architect ( tite was responsible for the design of shap station ).
The first sod was cut on shap summit ( 914 feet )in July 1844. It is estimated that 9,600 men and 800 horses were involved in the work. The cutting at shap went through rock for about half a mile and was between fifty and sixty feet deep ,the work took little over two years ,a remarkable achievement considering the terrain and the weather the workers must have faced .
The ceremonial opening of the line was held on 15th December 1846 , and a special service was operated on the 16th and The line opened to the public on December 17th 1846 . A Mr j steel of the carlisle journal who travelled on a trial trip from carlisle to Lancaster reported at the time that the train consisted of engine ,tender ,and three carriages carrying directors ,engineers and several other gentlemen and it reached Lancaster in three hours of actual travelling-the directors having stopped at several places to inspect the work .The next day for the return trip to carlisle they were joined by captain coddington,the government inspector and set off a little after eight o clock with a train of 4 carriages,the rails were described as extremely slippery with rain ,sleet ,snow,frost and excessive cold . Despite these conditions captain coddington timed the ascent up shap summit and stated that despite the fact the engine was an old and not very powerful one it had done the ascent at a rate of 20 mph ,he expressed himself highly pleased with the work and gave the directors a certificate declaring that the public might travel the line with the most perfect safety .
Joseph locke raiway engineer (1805-1860) the man who's vision and determination ensured that the railway runs through shap to this day. Locke was a yorkshireman,born in altercliffe near sheffield. He started working on railway projects under the great george stephenson before becoming respected as one of the best engineers of his time .He died in 1860 aged 55 years.
The railway did though bring with it a few problems and obviously worried the church ,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 around was filled with terror,shops were broken open ,sheep slaughtered and cows milked !! Everything was frightfully lawless and disorderly ,in one location near shap there are about 500 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.
We rejoice to say, that active measures are on foot for their spiritual welfare ,the railway directors have given every encouragement to the building of a church and schools,to which the bishop of carlisle gives his full sanction,and promise of lisense. A benevolent gentleman has contributed a large sum for the distribution of bibles;and the vicar of crosby ravensworth,through which parish the railway passes,is actively at work,circulating tracts,visiting the families ,attending the sick &c &c ;and the kindly ,grateful feeling which is induced ,is most promising.
The church with sod for walls ,and board for roof,will soon be got ready. The difficulty is ,to find a faithful,simple minded man of god ,who,full of love for perishing sinners,will go in a missionary spirit,to this peculiar and insulated community. If he could also undertake the duties of schoolmaster,he would greatly add to his influence and usefulness. We believe that £100 a year will be ensured to him,and we do earnestly hope that all the christian promptness,with which the parties concerned have come forward to discharge their responsibility,will not be rendered abortive for want of a clergyman to carry their important designs into effect
Thomas brassey , civil engineer , (1805 - 1870 ) along with locke and errington , thomas brassey who was born in buerton ,cheshire was one of the most famous engineers of his time and was the man responsible for the railway over shap .
Yet another superb picture by kind permission and copyright of les pitcher and phantasrail
This one shows engine 45055 pulling a train up shap summit. more photos can be seen at www.phantasrail.co.uk
The memorial in shap churchyard to the workers who lost their lives working on the railway.
The inscription reads : sacred to the memory of the workmen who lost their lives by accidents during the progress of the work on the shap district of the lancaster and carlisle railway, and who's names are to be found in the parish register books . Like ordered forest trees we stand,and some are marked to fall,the axe will smite at gods command ,and soon shall smite us all. No present health can life ensure for yet an hour to come ,no human power our life secure and save us from the tomb.
By the 1930s the assisting of passenger trains in the rear from tebay to shap summit had decreased considerably and such was the advance in locomotive power that a lms class 7 passenger engine could take 500 tons over shap summit unassisted. However the majority of freight trains were still being "banked" (that is assisted by an engine in the rear) all freight trains which exceeded 19 wagons and brake had to have a bank engine in the rear in the interests of safety and punctuality.
The busiest time of day in the late 1930s was from 20.30 to 01.00 when express freights were passing ahead of the sleeping car trains from the south,in summer the average number of down trains in 24 hours was :- 40 passenger and 30 freight, whereas in winter it was :- 30 passenger and 40 freight. In 1938 the signal box at scout green was being manned by signalmen ,t.farragher , r.bond , and j.ratcliffe , the signalmen at shap summit were ,r.capstick , g.grayland , and j w noddle.
a bank engine at work at shap in 1968 ,towards the end of steam
The shap summit gang of linesmen in the 1950s .from the left .Jackson bragg ,Jimmy mallinson,Jack sanderson ,George parker and Tommy slater (ganger) . These men and gangs like them walked the lines year round in all weathers to keep the railway working .
The incline to shap summit begins north of dillicar troughs ,1/2 a mile south of tebay and extends for 5 miles 1,613 yards to the summit, for the first 1 1/2 miles the rise is at 1 in 146 steepening beyond tebay to 1 in 75.
another steam train climbing shap,the 5043 & 6201 at shap wells in march 2012 - http://youtu.be/49Bm3crr4Eo
and the 70013 oliver cromwell in march 2012 - http://youtu.be/PNlnTqhptZg
researched material ; the illustrated london news ,the carlisle journal ,
pictured below is 42439 banking 70003 in 1965