Some Early Lines
Old Railway Companies
Furness Railway and Furness & Midland Joint Railway
The Furness Railway had a more attractive furniture motif than many lines. Its squirrel lives on in this seat from Millom, now at the Ravenglass terminus of the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway. (P.van Zeller)
Seen as a link between Barrow and mines at Lindal, the company was incorporated on 23 May 1844. There was also a 3ft 2¼in gauge line to a slate quarry at Kirkby. Despite poetic fury from Wordsworth, the line progressed well, to be in use by 3 June 1846 and officially opened on 12 August. An extension from Kirkby to Broughton was opened in late February 1848. The discovery of enormous deposits of haematite at Park, north of Barrow, in 1850 made the company one of the most prosperous of its time. A national slump after 1870 prompted thoughts of sale to the Midland Railway in 1875, but a change of emphasis from goods to tourists kept the company successful until the outbreak of the First World War. Absorption of smaller companies extended its system, until by 1918 it owned 428¾ track miles, including sidings. The company remained independent until the Grouping.
Borwick, on the Furness & Midland Joint Railway. The station (right distance) was built before the railway: when the line arrives, it passed 50 yards to the south-east, and a second station (foreground) had to be built. (Andrew C.Ingram)
Furness & Midland Joint Railway
A link between Wennington (Midland Railway) and Carnforth (Furness Railway) was suggested by the Midland Railway which wanted a share in the rich iron ore traffic from Furness, and offered boat-train traffic to Barrow in exchange. The London & North Western Railway, which had hitherto controlled the FR at both ends, opposed, but a company was incorporated on 22 June 1863, running powers over the FR making life easier for the LNWR. The 9¾ mile line, financed jointly by the two companies and managed by a Joint Committee, opened for goods on 10 April 1867, and to passengers on 6 June. It crossed the LNWR north of Carnforth to a station on the west, a curve leading into the northern side of the LNWR station. The company remained independent until the Grouping.
The Furness Railway Trust
The Furness Railway Trust – with assets like 1863-built Furness Railway Number 20 and the ex Furness and North London Railway coach – is also working to keep the memory of the Furness Railway alive.
The FRT owns Britain’s oldest working standard gauge steam locomotive, Furness Railway Number 20, GWR duo 0-6-2T 5643 and 4979 “Wootton Hall”, Austerity “Cumbria” and our vintage train.
We are based in the North West of England but our locomotives and carriages are found at heritage railway sites nationwide.
Our fund-raising and your support keeps us going. Why not Gift Aid a donation?!
Furness Railway Axle Box – in the Chasewater Railway Museum Collection
Carriages from the Great Eastern Railway, the Maryport & Carlisle Railway and Furness Railway making up the Cannock & Rugeley Colliery ‘Paddy’ train, taken at Pool Pits Junction, Hednesford 24-2-1951