Friday, 7 April 2017

652 The Fight For The Settle-Carlisle

First  viewed : 16  January  1984

This  was  a  half-hour  documentary  on  what  became  a  major  issue  in  1983, the  proposed  closure  of  the  railway  line  between  Settle  and  Carlisle. The  line  was  built  by  the  Midland  Railway  in  the  1870s  as  a  result  of  commercial  rivalry  and  was  a  triumph  of  Victorian  engineering. It  also  provided  a  very  scenic  journey  as  it  snaked  through  the  sparsely  populated  Yorkshire  Dales  and  Eden  Valley.

The  line  had  experienced  a  long  decline  beginning  with  the  merging  of  railway  companies  in  1923. Beeching  suggested  the  removal  of  passenger  services  and  although  this  was  not  actioned, most  of  the  intermediate  stations  were  closed  in  1970  and  a  restricted  service  of  two  trains  a  day  in  each  direction  applied. From  1974  though,  special  Dalesrail  services  were  introduced  using  the  little  stations  to  promote  the  line  to  ramblers  and  ultimately  this  helped  to  save  the  line. In  the  early  eighties,  British  Rail  announced  that  it  thought  the  cost  of  repairing  the  viaducts  particularly  at  Ribblehead   was  too  prohibitive  to  keep  the  line  open. A  pressure  group  the  Friends  of  the  Settle-Carlisle  Line  was  created  to  resist  the  idea

In  1984, closure  notices  went  up  with  the  intention  of  ceasing  services  when  the  current  timetable  ceased  in  February. The  programme  was  made  with  that  deadline  in  mind.

My  interest  in  railways  had  lain  pretty  dormant  since  the  unwelcome  discovery back  in  1979  that  14  year  olds  were  expected  to  pay  full  fare  on  the  trains. This  re-awakened  it  and,  having  bought  a  Young  Person's  Railcard  as  soon  as  I  got  my  grant  to  facilitate  visits  home   ( with  bags  of  washing  of  course ) , I  took  a  trip  along  the  line  on  Saturday  28th  January  1984. I  can't  say  it  was  all  that  thrilling. It  was  a  lousy  day  with  a  lot  of  misty  rain  obscuring  the  views.  I  recall  visiting  Carlisle  Castle  and  Cathedral  and  moseying  around  the  latter's  bookshop. I  didn't  feel  it  was  worth  waiting  around  for  the  one  going  back  to  Leeds  at  5pm  as  the  route  would  be  in  darkness  so  I  came  back  via  the  alternative  Lancaster  route, an  attractive  journey  in  itself.

As  things  turned  out , the  line  got  a  stay  of  execution and  in  1989  was  reprieved  altogether,  a  decision  for  which  a  certain  Mr  Portillo  likes  to  claim  the  credit. As  covered  in  a  separate  blog  I  used  the  line  frequently  in  1992-3  for  walking  The  Settle-Carlisle  Way.

1 comment:

  1. Although I've been through Carlisle station more times than I care to remember, I've never been down the famous line. I will say when I do head back to my hometown, I generally try to travel up via Barrow as the trip from there up to Millom is very picturesque.

    Of course, as soon as Sellafield appears on the horizon, the spell is quickly broken!