On Friday June 23rd 1882, an accident causing the death of one man and injury to two others, plus a great deal of damage to property, took place at Sir James Bain & Company's ironworks at Harrington. Two steamers in the harbour, the "Maggy Ann" and "Yan Yen", were being loaded with pig iron. Having left their last load of ore, the locomotive and wagons were being taken back to the works, by driver, Robert Murray, Patrick McMullen, fireman, and another engine-driver, John Miller.
It was remarked at the time that the engine and empty wagons seemed to be going very fast along the tramway close to the sea-shore. Shortly afterwards, persons on the quay heard a great rush of steam from the direction of the ironworks, and going to the place, found that the engine and wagons had run off the rails and into the concrete weigh-house.
Nothing much could be seen because of the smoke and steam from the engine, but shortly afterwards the dead body of Patrick McMullen was found "frightfully mutilated", his head having been struck by the slates of the house as the engine entered it. Robert Murray was also found badly injured with burns, but John Miller escaped with slight scalding.
An enquiry was held and found that a piece of pig iron had fallen onto a set of points just before the weigh-house, presumably from the previous journey by the same set of wagons. This caused the engine and wagons to move to separate rails, with the result that the former crashed into the weigh-house, carrying away one side of the building completely. Fortunately the two weighmen had left the weighing-house shortly before, there being no more metal to weigh that night, otherwise no doubt two more lives would have been lost.
On June 3rd 1967 the last through train ran from Heysham via Lancaster Green Ayre to the West Riding. It was the 3-05pm Class C goods from Heysham Moss Sidings via Morecambe promenade goods yard to Leeds, Neville Hill, and hauled by an ex-LMS 5MT 4-6-0 no. 44898.
Following this train, the sections from Morecambe (the junction with the line to Bare Lane) to Torrisholme No. 1 Junction, White Lund sidings to Lancaster Green Ayre and Lancaster power station to Wennington would see no more scheduled trains, with signal boxes along the line being closed with effect from Monday June 5th 1967. Passenger services had already ceased in January 1966, Green Ayre and Scale Hall being closed, and the Leeds to Morecambe passenger service diverted via Carnforth.
The White Lund sidings had served the White Lund Gas Works since 1959, the latter being the last traditional coal gasworks to be built in England. Whilst most of the route to Wennington closed, two remaining single line stubs were then retained for freight purposes: Morecambe Promenade - Torrisholme Junction - White Lund Gas Works (used for coal trains) which closed in January 1970 (the official closure with effect from February 2nd), and Lancaster Castle - Green Ayre - Lancaster Power Station, which lasted until August 1976.
PGW 06/14 - (With thanks to Les Gilpin's "A North Lancashire Railway Album", published by and available from the Cumbrian Railways Association).
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the start of passenger services on the Harrington & Lowca Light Railway. These commenced on the June 2nd 1913 following the publication of a Light Railway Order in May 1913.
Passenger services had their origin in a decision by the Workington Iron & Steel Co. who operated the existing mineral railway (the "Workington Iron & Steel Company tramway") from Harrington Harbour up to Lowca Colliery, to provide for their ever-increasing workforce in the locality. In 1911 it was decided to run a passenger service to Lowca, with intermediate stations at Rose Hill (also known as Archer Street), Copperas Hill and Micklam. It took over two years to reconstruct the line to conform to the requirements of the Light Railways Act and get formal approval. An additional stop at Church Road Halt (Harrington) opened on November 1st 1913.
The complete service ran from Seaton on the coast, through Workington Central, to Lowca. Unusual in that it was staffed by the Cleator & Workington Junction Railway, and operated by the Furness Railway, the line was the steepest adhesion-worked gradient on any British passenger railway. The entire journey from Seaton to Lowca was timetabled to take 35 minutes, with the first service leaving at 5.05am, and the last return journey from Lowca at 10.15pm. Miners mainly used the trains, but a workmen's train was introduced during the war in September 1915.
Both Church Road Halt and Rosehill (Archer Street) Halt were under the supervision of the High Harrington Station Master (John Rae from 1913 to 1931). Joseph Holmes was the travelling Station Master, who rode the trains between Lowca and Church Road and retired in 1924. From 1924 to 1926 Joseph Holmes' assistant John Irving, a retired Cumberland & Westmoreland Police inspector known as "Long John", was the ticket collector on the afternoon and evening trains.Like so many in West Cumberland, passenger services did not last long, mainly due to competition from Cumberland Motor Services' buses. Copperas Hill ceased to be in the timetable from 1921, and the General Strike in May 1926 killed off all passenger services for good, the line being closed to such traffic on May 31st. However, mineral trains continued until 1973, when the Solway Colliery closed thus negating the need for transport to the coking plant at Lowca.
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