As operation of Class 37-hauled passenger services along the wonderful Cumbrian Coast is due to end on 28 December 2018, this seems a good moment to post a few images from a memorable week in Barrow during early April 2017, when I was visiting locations along the route to get photos and background for my forthcoming book on Britain’s last semaphores.
Having recently covered Grange-over-Sands in one of my photo-spots features, the other major town along the Preston-Barrow section of this route (where regular Class 37 operation has already ceased) is Ulverston. This view on 5 April 2017 was taken from a bridge carrying the A590 road to the west of the town and shows 37405 departing with the 11.12 to Barrow-in-Furness.
Barrow-in-Furness may not be most people’s choice of a Lake District tourist destination, but it does boast a charming and well-run station, with an extensive array of semaphore signals, controlled by a 1907-vintage Furness Railway signal box at the western end of platforms 2 & 3.
Beginning one of my day excursions here on the 05.46 (currently 05.50) Carlisle service, along with dozens of workers making their daily commute to the Sellafield nuclear plant, felt like a throwback to the 1980s and a departure for the West Highlands from Glasgow Queen Street, as 37401 Mary Queen of Scots in BR blue, and adorned with large BR logo and Highland Terrier, eased its four aged coaches out of the station, to the increasing roar of its English Electric engines.
These views show 37401 and 37405 on services to Carlisle, taken on the station and (bottom photo) from a great vantage point on a bridge close to the football ground at the far end of Holker Street from the railway station.
Heading north from Barrow towards Carlisle, the first stop is at Askam (pictured top), where an interesting chalet-style building on the down platform stands alongside another Furness Railway signal box, this one dating from 1895.
Bootle is a quiet request stop, with a listed 1871 signal box at the north end of the down platform. With the Class 37s always on the Carlisle (northern) end of the loco-hauled services, the best vantage point I found here (accessed with permission) was a coal yard about 200 yards north of the level crossing and signal box on the east side of the line.
Workington is one of those places that has so obviously seen better and much busier days, as the truncated remains of two through lines in the station illustrate. But it does at least remain one of only a handful of places in Britain with more than one mechanical signals box, with Workington Main No.2 at the south end of the station and Workington Main No. 3 box standing at the northern end of the up (southbound) platform.
Wigton is the last outpost of mechanical signalling along the 94 miles of route from Arnside, with the route’s most modern (1957) signal box, seen above on 3 April 2017 as 37401 powers its train away with the 09.01 departure for Barrow.
Of course, 28 December 2018 should not spell the total end of Class 37-hauled trains on this route, with the DRS Class 37 fleet sharing nuclear flask duties with the operator’s Class 68 locos. Pictured above are 37609/218 approaching Foxfield on 5 April 2017 with a Sellafield to Heysham working (the pair also featured at the top of my home page).
As this is my final posting of 2018, I would like to wish everyone a very happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year – it has been a great pleasure sharing my railway adventures over the past year, and I have found the comments and feedback – even the rude stuff! – interesting and helpful, and I look forward to more of the same in 2019.