Buses in Cumbria & North Lancashire.
I always found buses interesting as a child, but found them less so as a grown up, thinking that, after half cab double deckers there was nothing of interest. Railways were my main photographic interest and I knew that many of those who gave up recording the railway scene after steam ended, came to regret it. The truth was that transport - like most other things – is constantly changing and needs recording, today’s mundane is always going to be more interesting when its gone. In addition to that, anything in modern life can be a suitable subject for photography and can make a pleasing or satisfying image, irrespective of whether or not it will be historically important.
I eventually realised this as the end of the 20th century approached and set myself a millennium project to record every type of bus in the Cumberland fleet, which I succeeded in doing. This rekindled my interest in buses and I have done a little bit ever since, updating my collection as models, liveries, services or operators change. I just haven’t time to do everything but I hope I’ve captured a lot of it.
I follow my usual practise of grouping together towns or routes (rather than say, bus types) so that some sort of historical comparisons can be seen. We travel Whitehaven to Workington & Maryport and then to Keswick to Penrith and then to Carlisle. From there we wander down the coast to Barrow and North Lancs via Carnforth. Finally we travel from Lancaster to Kendal, the Central Lakes and end up back in Keswick.
Stagecoach Cumberland, Stagecoach Northwest, Stagecoach in Cumbria and Stagecoach Cumbria and North Lancashire. All the photographs were taken in the Stagecoach era and mainly, but certainly not exclusively feature that company. If you are not already aware, an excellent collection of images of buses prior to - as well as including - the Stagecoach era can be found on Brian Pritchard’s excellent site. http://www.flickr.com/photos/23207961@N07/sets I’m not sure that I fully understand the differences of Stagecoach Cumberland etc., generally the legal lettering refers to Stagecoach North West Ltd & Cumberland Motor services, and the buses have been branded Cumberland, Stagecoach Cumberland or Stagecoach in Cumbria / Stagecoach in Lancaster. Stagecoach Cumbria and North Lancashire is that companies grouping of Cumbria, Lancaster and Morecambe area and that is the geographical model that I use to define the area of this gallery. So I remain a bit confused but I usually describe a bus the same as it is branded, even though the logos were often out of date.
THANKS: I’m no expert on buses, so thanks to those who are! Thanks to Harry Postlethwaite who’s excellent books on local transport were an invaluable reference source, particularly: Cumberland Motor Services 1912 – 2012, 100 years of service (ISBN 978 1905 304 493) and; Transport in Barrow in Furness (ISBN 978 190530 4523). Also, many thanks to those who take the trouble to run web sites – in my case it just happened that the Merseyside Dennis Dart Website: http://dartslf.com whose Fleetlist NW was the easiest up to date reference to help me identify bus types. Without the above, my captions would be very much denuded.
This is one of three related galleries, railway journeys on three routes that pass through Carlisle:
1. Lancashire to Lanarkshire.
2. Barrow to Jarrow.
3. River Aire to River Ayr.
They all start their journeys south of the Border City and all pass through the hub of Carlisle. They feature a great variety of trains and railway paraphernalia from the start of the 1980s to the present and will be regularly updated.
BARROW and JARROW do not have a lot in common, they share a shipbuilding and monastic history and their names are separated by just one letter, but the critical criterion is that one may travel between them by rail, via Carlisle.
Northumbria, a railway miscellany. The geographical area of Northumbria is not really defined; the medieval kingdom stretched from the Forth to the Humber and even reached Morecambe Bay. In more recent times, “Northumbria” has been used by institutions (for example Northumbria Police) to mean the county of Northumberland plus the industrial conurbation of Tyne & Wear. This gives me the flexibility to do what I want but it is generally the latter definition that’s closest to what I mean by Northumbria, i.e. Northumberland and Durham, including the Newcastle/Sunderland conurbation. Sadly, these pictures show the mere skeleton of what was once one of the busiest and complex railway areas in the world, a taste of which can be seen on many internet sites, a couple of which can be found on my links page.
This gallery records the majority of semaphore signals that were around in Cumbria a decade or so before and after the turn of the century. Semaphore signals and mechanical signal boxes predominate, but the many types of colour light signals are also included, along with level crossings, layouts and operating procedures. The pictures of signalling equipment are grouped alphabetically according to the name of the signal box controlling them. Thanks are due to my friend, local signaller Allan Beck, who has provided me with a wealth of information on signalling in Cumbria.
THE BAY: The towns of Barrow-in-Furness and Heysham are the two towns at the extremities of Morecambe Bay. Only 14 miles apart (as the seagull flies) they are separated by almost 50 miles of road. Due to the Furness Line's viaducts across the Leven & Kent estuaries the rail journey is only 38 miles. Although regular train services link Barrow with Lancaster and Lancaster with Morecambe, only one train a day reaches Heysham. The line skirts Morecambe Bay for a good deal of its route but the majority of the journey is away from the coast.
Workington Freight is really an adjunct to my Routes Through Carlisle gallery: BARROW TO JARROW. At the end of 2012 it was announced that the twice-weekly wagonload freight from Carlisle to Workington docks would cease, leaving only a once a week connection for Iggesund’s tank wagons. This prompted a rush of nostalgia, leading me to dig out my old pictures from the 1980s onward of freight trains centred on Workington.
In the last century, if I had a day off work or a spare summer evening (before the internet and mobile phones were an integral part of life), I knew if I went to Workington I would be guaranteed to find something there of interest. Although Whitehaven was of equal interest, when Haig pit closed and Corkickle’s block chemical trains waned, more and more of its traffic started or ended at Workington. Workington was always the freight hub in my time, having West Cumbria’s main loco shed and even after it closed it was still a traincrew signing on point as well as providing stabling and fuelling for locomotives. Although nuclear freight was not really connected to Workington, you could often see flask trains awaiting crew change in the middle roads and even after the crash of 2012, occasional nuclear waste trains still used the port.
This gallery only features main line freight, (industrial freight is covered elsewhere) from a time when Workington docks handled gypsum, scrap and coal to the Enterprise and container era and eventually to the one train a week. Workington Yard saw many steel trains, both raw materials and finished track products, and the Yard was the hub for other freight, The Royal Navy Armaments Depot on the Buckhill branch, Maryport Coal Concentration Depot and chemicals to & from Wigton, Corkickle and Sellafield as well as the local steelworks. It had wagonload freights both to Carlisle and the south of England via Willesden and the continent via Dover. The station handled freight too in the shape of its mail trains. So here are a few more memories of Workington Freight.
Most of the pre digital images are 6 x 4.5 cm transparencies copied with a flatbed scanner with just a handful of old 35mm colour negs likewise scanned.
In the winter of 2009/10 a railway station appeared where before there was nothing. By the following winter there was virtually no trace of it ever having existed, but in the 12 months that Workington North operated, it (along with the neighbouring Workington Station) was the busiest station on the line. So here is a short portfolio featuring the public transport response to the destruction of the bridges of Workington, following the floods of November 2009. Whilst there is great interest in the trains and buses, the bridges and stations, people are also important in this gallery. People feature in all my galleries because they are part of the transport scene, but in this gallery particularly they are central, and that is because - at least for part of that time – public transport was a lifeline rather than a lifestyle choice.
I’ve never been on Holiday just to take railway pictures. I’ve always enjoyed family holidays with photography as a significant part of them. So my holiday railway pictures are not in well-known freight hotspots or scenic locations, they’re just a record of train journeys and railway locations near wherever we were staying. Maybe one day…