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HISTORIC APRIL
April - Holiday Time on the Furness Railway

Traffic and Works Committee, April 23rd 1897

Diamond Jubilee - Holiday to Staff

On the recommendation of the General Manager it was

Resolved: That for the purpose of commemorating the 60 years reign of Her Majesty the Queen the whole of the wages staff in the service be granted, on 22 June next, a day's holiday, without deduction of pay, and those who must necessarily be on duty for carrying on the traffic be allowed a day's holiday at such time as may be convenient, and if this cannot be arranged, an extra day's wages be granted.

Annual Holiday to Passenger and Goods Guards, Signalmen and Shunters

The General Manager submitted a memorial that had been forwarded to him through the Superintendent of the Line from the Passenger Guards and Signalmen, to be allowed annually a week's holiday, without deduction of pay, and reported that the London & North Western and Midland Companies had already granted this privilege to their men, and it was

Resolved: That on and after the 1st July next all Passenger Guards, Brakesmen, Signalmen and shunters who have occupied a position in one or more of these grades for a period of not less than 5 years, shall be granted a week's holiday with pay, and that the present arrangement of allowing Passenger and Goods Guards and Relief Signalmen Good Friday and Christmas Day with pay be discontinued.

PGW 04/15
April 1866 - Frizington to Marron Junction
Substantial growth generated by a rise in the fortunes of the iron-ore industry was primarily responsible for the incorporation and building of the Whitehaven, Cleator & Egremont Railway from 1854 onwards.

Following the building of an initial line to Frizington, completed in 1856 and opened for passengers on July 1st 1857, a five mile extension was authorised to the head of the Marron valley at Kidburngill (later re-named Wright Green, and still later, Lamplugh), in 1861, primarily to move iron ore and limestone deposits from the mines at Rowrah and Eskett to the coast. However congestion caused by the single-line tunnel at Whitehaven persuaded the WC&ER to construct an alternative line north to Workington and Carlisle. This was constructed up the valley alongside the River Marron, until it created a triangular junction north of Bridgefoot with the Cockermouth & Workington Railway.

As was the case with the previous line to Rowrah, severe gradients and curves were experienced over the six mile line (the steepness of the line responsible for a runway mineral train at Frizington in 1857). Primarily built for goods traffic, and travelling through sparsely-populated countryside, remarkably it was opened for passenger traffic on April 2nd 1866, with intermediate stations at Ullock and Branthwaite, and remained open until closure in 1931.

PGW 04/14

April 10th 1875 - Accident at Frizington on the WC&ER
The Board of Trade reported on the collision of a mineral train with wagons at Frizington in 1875. The 1.30 pm. mineral train from Marron Junction for Whitehaven became unmanageable in descending a steep gradient, and after running a distance of about three miles came into collision with a break-van and five empty waggons (forming part of a train from Marron to Moor Row, the remainder of which was shunting) standing on the main line 20 yards on the Whitehaven side of Frizington station.

The driver of the train was injured jumping off his engine (a tank engine, running coal-box first), which had its coal-box knocked in, and frame, smoke-box, and buffer-beam destroyed. The break-van was destroyed and 30 wagons in total damaged. Of more importance was the fact that part of the Frizington station building was also knocked down.

As was stated at the enquiry, Frizington is situated at the bottom of an incline nearly 3 miles long. The loaded train had been pushed up almost to the top from Marron by another engine, at a slow speed of 5 miles an hour. It was left to complete the climb between Rowrah and the summit, and then should have descended slowly to Winder, where the train would normally stop, unload some wagons and pin down brakes for the rest of the descent. However, half way to Winder driver Grundell said he became aware that he would not be able to stop as required, although his speed was no faster than usual, and the engine-break had been applied. He maintained that the problem was due to the loaded wagons being mainly at the rear of the train, which required him to keep up steam longer than usual going up to the summit.

Guard James Wood (9 years on the Cleator line) agreed the speed near the summit was indeed about 5 miles an hour, but stated that after getting to the summit it gradually increased and got faster than usual, reaching 30 mph through Yeathouse and dropping slightly to 25 mph at the collision impact.

This somewhat damning evidence caused the enquiry to find driver Grundell to be the main cause of the accident by allowing the train to pass the summit at too high a speed, which on the descent he was unable to control. Two recommendations were made; firstly that all goods and mineral trains should stop on the level track at the summit so that a proportion of the brakes could be pinned down before descent; and secondly that serious consideration should be given as to whether double trains should be run at all - "if an engine has no greater load attached to it that it can haul up a gradient, it will generally be master of that load on descending a somewhat similar gradient, and thus not be likely to be overpowered."

PGW 04/13 (taken from the Board of Trade, Railway Department Report of May 31st 1875)

April 1922 - the Annual Coupling Contest
The Annual Coupling Contest for Guards, Shunters & Porters was held on Good Friday in Barrow Yard, and in spite of the poor weather, there was a good attendance to watch competitors from Barrow, Carnforth and Moor Row.

The Furness Railway's Chief Engineer, Mr D L Rutherford, had given the event further interest, by producing a handsome new silver challenge cup for competition amongst teams of three men, in addition to the other trophies available.

Moor Row produced a good entry, but the surprise team of the day were the men from Carnforth. Of the latter team, J.E. Berry not only took first place in the guard's event, but also won in a record time, which won him the cup donated by the FR Chairman, Mr F.J. Ramsden, for the fastest time set by FR and Joint Stock men.

Inspired by his success, he went on to win the Speakman Cup, Captain Nigel Kennedy’s silver teapot, and a cash prize for being the winner of the open event, thus ensuring a day he would not forget in a hurry!

As you would expect, the events consisted of coupling and uncoupling a series of wagons, usually either 12 or 16 (but only 8 for competitors over 50). The fastest time for 12 wagons, set by Mr Berry, was just over 44 seconds.

PGW (edited report from the FR Magazine July 1922)