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HISTORIC MAY

May 7th 1838 - Maryport & Carlisle Railway

The month of May has significance on two counts for the Maryport & Carlisle Railway. Powers to construct the line were granted with minimal opposition under an Act of 1837 and construction commenced on the section from Maryport to Aspatria on May 7th 1838.

After a serious dispute with the contractor who alleged material interference with his works by the Company, and which also led to the resignation of George Stephenson as Engineer, the seven mile section from Maryport to Arkleby was opened for mineral traffic on July 15th 1840.

Completion to Aspatria and the start of passenger services dated from April 12th 1841.

Work then commenced at the other end of the line to link Carlisle with Wigton, this section opening for traffic on May 10th 1843. The new Engineer, William Mitchell, advised the Company that the remaining section of line could be constructed more cheaply on a different alignment from that originally authorised and fresh parliamentary powers had to be sought in 1843, probably delaying completion by at least a year.

The gap in the central section of the route was eventually closed from February 10th 1845, the company having taken seven years to build 28 miles of line. This followed the commencement of services between Maryport and Workington the previous January.

PGW 05/15

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May 18th 1917 - Private Special Train - Carlisle to Dornock

On Friday May 18th 1917, the Royal Train was scheduled to arrive at platform no. 1, Carlisle (Citadel) Station at 9.43am in accordance with the Royal Train notice issued four days previously by the Maryport & Carlisle Railway.

The two Scottish railway companies involved in working the train forward from Carlisle to Dornock (the Caledonian and Glasgow & South Western Railways), both stated in their own special traffic notices, to what they referred to as a "Private Special Train", an arrival time at Carlisle of 9.38am, followed by a departure one minute later at 9.39am for Dornock (G&SW).

The difference of five minutes on the arrival time at Carlisle would, on paper, to indicate a lack of co-ordination between the M&CR, and the two Scottish companies. Was there sufficient hidden recovery time in the M&CR Royal Train notice to arrive at Carlisle at 9.38am? Recovery time or not, surely with two Crewe-built Crested Goods leading, five minutes could easily be taken out of the timetable between Brayton and Carlisle.

Their Majesties King George V and Queen Mary were coming to the end of a five day visit to Cheshire, Lancashire and Cumberland. After an overnight stay at Brayton Junction on the M&CR, the Royal Train departed at 9.15am behind L&NWR Crested Goods 0-6-0s nos. 930 and 347, with no. 672 running 15 minutes in advance, as the Royal Train pilot engine.

All three engines performed as expected, with the result that the 12 car Royal (or Private Special) Train was able to leave Carlisle exactly on time at 9.39am, arriving in Dornock at 10.00am as planned.

PGW 05/14 - (with help from Godfrey Yeomans's article in the CRA Journal of Sept.1996)

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May 11th 1983 - Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway Disabled People's Day

Getting a disabled person from a wheel-chair into another wheeled vehicle has always proved a challenge, especially where railway carriages are involved. In 1982 the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway (R&ER), prompted by the late Sir Douglas Bader, a tireless campaigner for disabled people, decided to build three semi-open coaches which could easily and quickly be adapted for the purpose of conveying wheel-chairs.

The centre side-panels could be taken out by unscrewing a single nut, and the centre seats removed. Each vehicle carried a ramp so that a wheel-chair, and its occupant, could be pushed into the space left, with the centre panel then being replaced. A further vehicle, a closed saloon, was converted from the middle coach of the R&ER's "silver jubilee" railcar, and had seats at each end with tip-up seats around the sides, thus leaving the centre space clear for wheel-chairs.

Following the construction of the coaches a special day was held on May 11th 1983, with invited parties from various localities. The special coaches were for once all in a single train set, with numerous volunteers on hand to assist the usual permanent staff, and meals were arranged for the various groups at Eskdale (Dalegarth).

The special train made three return journeys with motive power provided by the Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway's 4-6-2 Black Prince (on an exchange visit), and 0-4-2 well-tank Bonnie Dundee.

The day was so successful that two further special trains were run on September 23rd for the disabled of Allerdale district, many of whom could be not accommodated in May due to the demand for places.

PGW 05/13