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The history and development of railways in Cumbria have been reasonably well covered in published books and articles, though far from as intensively as some other parts of the country. There are exceptions, the Settle and Carlisle line in particular, and there are shortfalls in what has appeared. There are, for instance, no definitive histories of any of the railways in the west of the county.

Where to find it? Published material has appeared over many years and unfortunately most is now out of print. Local history libraries should hold the most significant works listed in this booklet, or should be able to obtain them on request if not held; many will be available from specialist book sellers from time to time. The Cumbria County Record Office and Library Local History Collections also hold very extensive collections of published works of local interest, though not comprehensively in each of its four area offices. It would be best to make written or telephone enquiries before visiting.

The Lists

The lists, together with short commentaries, which follow do not pretend to be comprehensive; they make no attempt to list all books on the subject. This page is intended to identify only some of the more useful books to be used as an introduction to the subject of Cumbrian railway history. Some books on related subjects are also included on rail related industries, for example, including the coal and steel industries. Few articles from learned, professional and enthusiast journals have so far been included, but there are great riches therein. As they have not been comprehensively explored. If you have any suggestions as to what could further be included in these lists please email your information to the CRA ARCHIVIST.

More Information

Some initial reading will soon start to point the way towards other sources of information, both primary and secondary. Some books give excellent lists of sources and references used. Many articles and notes appear in "Cumbrian Railways", Journal of the Cumbrian Railways Association, which members receive four times a year. For more information on membership, click HERE. If you cannot find a book in your local library try a search for it on the internet - there are many specialist dealers out there who are likely to have what you are looking for.

Books on the General Background

Some excellent background to the social and economic history of Cumbria generally can be found in the following works:

The Lake Counties from 1830 to the mid-twentieth Century
John Marshall and John K. Walton (Manchester University Press, 1981)
An extremely valuable source on Cumbrian economic and social history

The Industrial Archaeology of the Lake Counties
J.D. Marshall and M. Davies-Shiel (David & Charles, 1969)
Wide ranging review of local industrial history

A Guide to the Industrial Archaeology of Cumbria
John and Jan Bennett (Association for Industrial Archaeology, 1993)
A useful handbook and gazetteer of sites

Road Transport in Cumbria in the Nineteenth Century
L.A. Williams (George Allen & Unwin, )

Roads and Trackways of the Lake District
Brian Paul Hindle (Moorland Publishing, 1984)
History of their development, including the main turnpike roads

The Lake Counties of 100 Years Ago
John Marsh and John Garbutt (Alan Sutton Publishing, 1994)
A beautifully illustrated large format book

Land of the Lakes
Melvyn Bragg (Secker & Warburg, 1983)
Useful for the literary and artistic context of 19th century

Published Bibliographies

Bibliographies will help you to find further references to further sources. Unfortunately they soon get out of date and be unhelpful in finding details of recent publications.

A Bibliography of Cumberland & Westmorland
Henry W. Hodgson (Joint Archives Committee for Cumberland, Westmorland and Carlisle, 1968)

A Bibliography of British Railway History
George Ottley (HMSO 1965, 2nd Ed. 1983) Also a supplements (HMSO 1988 and 1998)

Local Historic and Economic Context

The railways in the west of Cumbria and Furness were an integral part of the local economy from the mid-19th century for well over 100 years, built as they were to serve the transport needs of locally based industries, particularly the mining of coal and iron ore, and the manufacture of iron and steel. The railways also brought tourists and visitors to the Lake District, creating not just another industry in itself, but creating the pressures for development which led directly to the formation of the first major environmental pressure groups and eventually of the National Trust.

In the east of the county, north - south rail lines were mainly trunk routes of national importance linking the major cities and industrial areas in England and Scotland. East - west routes provided vital regional links between West Cumbria and Furness and the North East, upon which the Cumbrian iron and steel industry long depended for its supplies of coke.

The Furness Area
Barrow and District
F.Barnes (Barrow-in-Furness Corporation, 1968 and 1978)

Burlington Blue-Grey, A history of the slate quarries, Kirkby-in-Furness
R. Stanley Geddes (author, 1975 and 1981)

Dalton-in-Furness, Mediaeval Capital to Mining Community
Rock Battye (Cumbrian Railways Association, 2006)

Furness and the Industrial Revolution
J.D. Marshall (Michael Moon , 1981)
An in-depth study of the economic development of Furness, including Barrow, in the 18th and 19th centuries.

The Iron Moor, a history of the Lindal Moor and Whitriggs Hematite Iron Mines
Alen McFadzean (Red Earth Publications, 1989)
West Cumberland
The Iron & Steel Industry of West Cumberland, an historical survey
J.Y. Lancaster & D.R. Wattleworth (British Steel Corporation, 1977)

Cumberland Iron, the story of Hodbarrow Mine 1855-1968
A. Harris (D. Bradford Barton, 1970)

The Red Hills, iron mines of West Cumberland
Dave Kelly (Red Earth Publications, 1994)

The Kelton and Knockmurton Iron Mines 1852 - 1923
R.E. Hewer (Northern Mine Research Society, 1988)

West Cumberland Coal 1600-1982/3
Oliver Wood (Cumberland & Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society, 1988)
An in-depth study up to the final years of deep mining

Cumberland, A Survey of Industrial Facilities
G.H.J. Daysh and Evelyn M. Watson (The Cumberland Development Council Ltd. 1951)

Whitehaven, An Illustrated History
Daniel Hay (Michael Moon, 1979)

Whitehaven Harbour
Brian Scott-Hindson (Phillimore, 1994)
Much of interest about the harbour and local industries

Iron Ore and After - Boom Time, Depression and Survival in a West Cumbrian Town, Cleator Moor 1840 - 1960
Ross Barber (York University, 1976)

Steel, Ships and Men, Cammell Laird 1823-1993
Kenneth Warren (Liverpool University Press, 1998)

A History of Carlisle
Sydney Towill (Phillimore, 1991)

The Lake District
The Lake District, A Century of Conservation
Geoffrey Berry and Geoffrey Beard (John Bartholomew & Son, 1980)

Windermere in the Nineteenth Century
Editor: Oliver M. Westall (Lancaster University Centre for North West Regional Studies, 1976)
Much on the impact of rail-borne tourism

Keswick, The Story of a Lake District Town
George Bott (Cumbria County Library, 1994)

Ravenglass, Roman Port to Railway Junction
Peter van Zeller (Cumbrian Railways Association, 2001)

East Cumbria
The Mines of Alston Moor
R.A. Fairbairn (Northern Mine Research Society, 1993)

A Saga of British Industry, the story of The British Plaster Board Group
John Routley (The British Plaster Board (Holdings) Ltd., 1959)

Gypsum in Cumbria: A History of the Gypsum and Anhydrite Mining in Cumbria
Ian Tyler (Blue Rock Publications, 2002)

James Ramsden, Barrow's Man of Vision
Jack Kellett (Monksvale Press, 1990)

H.W.Schneider of Barrow and Bowness
A.G. Banks (Titus Wilson, Kendal, 1984)

John Barraclough Fell CE, 1815-1902
A N Rigg (Hewitson & Harker, 1996)
Cumbrian railway contractor and creator of the Fell mountain railway system

The Railways

A large number of publications have appeared in recent years, many of which only give a cursory glance at their history, concentrating more on their visual aspects. Only some of the better of these mainly photographic books have been included.

General and Regional Studies
A Regional History of the Railways of Great Britain: Volume 14 The Lake Counties
David Joy ( David & Charles, 1983)
The most authoritative general work on Cumbria's railways

Railways of the Lake Counties
David Joy (Dalesman Books, 1973)

Railways of Cumbria
Peter W. Robinson (Dalesman Books, 1980 and 1985)
Mainly photographic with brief historical background

Railways in the Lake District
Martin Bairstow (author, 1994)
Mainly photographic

British Railways Past and Present: No. 1 Cumbria
John Broughton and Nigel Harris (Silver Link Publishing, 1985 and 1996)

Treacy's Routes North
Patrick Whitehouse and John Powell (Guild Publishing, 1985)
Images by Eric Treacy

Cumbria’s Lost Railways
Peter W Robinson (Stenlake Publishing, 2002)
Photos and dates of closed lines

Cumbrian Railway Photographer, The William Nash Collection
Kate Robinson and Robert Forsythe (Oakwood Press, 2002)
Photos from 1920s on from a photographer who died in the 1952 Harrow disaster

Carlisle area
Carlisle: 150 Years of Railways
Various authors (Cumbrian Railways Association, 1986)

Carlisle Citadel Station, 150 Years a Railway Centre
Denis Periam and David Ramshaw (P3 Publications, 1998)

An Illustrated History of Carlisle’s Railways
W A C Smith and Paul Anderson (Irwell Press, 1997)

Rail Centres: Carlisle
Peter W Robinson (Ian Allan, 1986) Main history of this major centre

Carlisle's Crane Makers: The Cowans Sheldon Story
Alan Earnshaw (Nostalgia Road, 2004)

Furness Railway
Early Railway History in Furness
J. Melville and J.L. Hobbs (Cumberland & Westmorland Antiquarian & Archaeological Society, 1951)

The Furness Railway in and around Barrow
Michael Andrews (Cumbrian Railways Association, 2003)

Furness Railway, its Rise and Development 1846 -1923
W. McGowan Gradon (author, 1946)
Now very dated but first serious study

Railway Heritage: The Furness Railway
K.J.Norman (Silver Link Publishing)
Excellent photographs with extended captions

Ulverstone & Lancaster Railway: The Challenge of Morecambe Bay
Les Gilpin (Cumbrian Railways Association 2009)

Railways in the Lake District
Rails through Lakeland, an illustrated history of the Workington-Cockermouth-Keswick-Penrith Railway 1847-1972
Harold D. Bowtell (Silver Link Publishing, 1989, later republished in 2 volumes)

The Cockermouth, Keswick & Penrith Railway
Robert Western (Oakwood Press, 2001)
History to final closure in 1972

The Coniston Railway
Michael Andrews and Geoff Holme (Cumbrian Railways Association, 2005)

Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway
H.I. Quayle and S.C. Jenkins (Dalesman Books, 1977)

The Kendal & Windermere Railway
Dick Smith (Cumbrian Railways Association, 2002)

Railways of West Cumbria
Cumbrian Coast Railways
David Joy (Dalesman Publishing, 1968)

Rails round the Cumbrian Coast
Richard Kirkman and Peter van Zeller (Dalesman Books, 1988) Route guide

The Maryport & Carlisle Railway
Jack Simmons (Oakwood Press, 1947) Good considering the sources available at the time

Maryport & Carlisle 150
Special edition of Cumbrian Railways (Cumbrian Railways Association, 1995)

The Solway Junction Railway
Stuart Edgar and John M. Sinton (Oakwood Press, 1990)

The Track of the Ironmasters, A History of the Cleator & Workington Junction Railway W. McGowan Gradon (author, 1952)
Available in a revised edition with extensive notes by Peter Robinson (Cumbrian Railways Association, 2004)

Whitehaven, The Railways and waggonways of a Unique Cumberland Port
Howard Quayle (Cumbrian Railways Association, 2007) Comprehensive and well reviewed

The Trunk Routes: General Works
Rails Across the Border
A.J.Mullay (Patrick Stephens Ltd, 1990)

The Trunk Routes: The Lancaster and Carlisle Line - and its branches
Crewe to Carlisle
Brian Reed (Ian Allan, 1969) Excellent on development of the West Coast Main Line through the North West of England

Over Shap to Carlisle - The Lancaster and Carlisle Railway in the 20th century
Harold D. Bowtell (Ian Allan, 1983) Detailed description of the route and its operation

Main Line Over Shap, the story of the Lancaster - Carlisle Railway
David Joy (Dalesman Publishing, various editions from 1967)

Electric Euston to Glasgow
O.S. Nock (Ian Allan, 1974)

The Ingleton Branch, A Lost Route to Scotland
Robert Western (The Oakwood Press, 1990)

North Western, Saga of the Premier Line of Great Britain: 1846-1922
O.S. Nock (Ian Allan, 1968)

Reflections of Oxenholme
W.L. Harris as related to Edward Talbot (London & North Western Railway Society, 1994) Oral history on local train operations as seen between 1911 and 1926

The London & North Western Railway
M C Reed (Atlantic Transport Publishers, 1996) Good general history of the company

The Lancaster & Preston Junction Railway
M D Greville and G O Holt (David & Charles, 1961)

The Trunk Routes: The Settle & Carlisle Line and associated routes
North of Leeds, The Leeds-Settle-Carlisle Line and its Branches
Peter E. Baughan (Roundhouse Books, 1966 and later) Authoritative account

Settle-Carlisle Railway, The Midland's Record-breaking Route to Scotland
W.R. Mitchell and David Joy (Dalesman Publishing, 1966 and many later editions)

The Settle and Carlisle Railway
O.S. Nock (Patrick Stephens Ltd, 1992) Good on how the line was operated

Structures & Stations of the Settle & Carlisle Railway
V.R. Anderson and G.K. Fox (Oxford Publishing Co.,1986)

Ganger Guard and Signalman, Working Memories of the Settle & Carlisle
Dick Fawcett (Bradford Barton, 1981)

The "Little" North Western Railway, Skipton - Ingleton, Clapham - Lancaster & Morecambe
Donald Binns (Wyvern Publications, 1982)

The “Little” North Western Railway, Skipton – Lancaster – Morecambe – Heysham, Clapham – Ingleton – Low Gill
Martin Bairstow (the author, 2000)

Railwaymen talk to W.R. Mitchell
(Dalesman Books, 1984; also many other small books on the line by Bill Mitchell published by Castleberg Press)

The Midland Railway, Its Rise and Progress. A Narrative of Modern Enterprise
Frederick W. Williams (Augustus M. Kelly, 1968)
Excellent contemporary chapter on building of the Settle and Carlisle

The Line that Refused to Die
Stan Abbott and Alan Whitehouse (Leading Edge, 1990; revised edition 1994)

The Trunk Routes: North over the Border
A Regional History of the Railways of Great Britain, Volume 6 Scotland, The Lowlands and the Borders
John Thomas (David & Charles, 1971, revised edition 1984)

The North British Railway, Volumes 1 and 2
John Thomas (David & Charles, 1969 and 1975)

The Caledonian Railway
O.S. Nock (Ian Allan, 1963 and later editions)

The North Eastern Railway in Cumbria
A History of the Newcastle & Carlisle Railway, 1824-1870
Bill Fawcett, (North Eastern Railway Association, 2008)

The Newcastle & Carlisle Railway
John S. MacLean (R. Robinson & Co.. 1948)

The Newcastle & Carlisle Railway
G. Whittle (David & Charles, 1979)

Lord Carlisle's Railways
Brian Webb & David A. Gordon (Railway Correspondence & Travel Society1978)
Full account of the mineral railways east of Brampton.

The Alston Branch
Stanley C. Jenkins (The Oakwood Press, 1991)

The Eden Valley Railway
Robert Western (The Oakwood Press, 1997)

The Stainmore Railway
K. Hoole (Dalesman Books, 1973)

The Stainmore & Eden Valley Railways, A Pictorial History of the Barnard Castle to Tebay and Penrith Lines
Peter Walton (Oxford Publishing Co. 1992)

Kirkby Stephen East, A Station Remembered
Keith Richardson (Stainmore Railway Company Ltd, 2007)

Other Forms of Transport
The Carlisle Navigation Canal 1821-1853
David Ramshaw (P3 Publications, 1997)

Ships of West Cumberland
Desmond G Sythes (Friends of Whitehaven Museum, 2006)

British Bus Systems number one: Cumberland
Harry Postlethwaite (The Transport Publishing Co., 1983

British Bus Systems number two: Ribble
Eric Ogden (The Transport Publishing Co., 1983

Cumberland Motor Services 1921-1996
Harry Postlethwaite (Venture Publications, 1996)