Contemporary Account of SCR Construction: Cumberland & Westmorland Herald - 1873, 2 August

The following passages have been extracted from a much longer article. Additional extracts will be transcribed and added as & when they are referenced from other pages on the SCRCA web-portal or quoted in SCRCA.UK social media posts.

We now come to a heavy bank, 50 feet high, containing over a quarter of a million cubic yards of filling, and thinking it strange that the ground where the bank is to be tipped should have been removed for a depth of several feet, we learn that this has been done because the peat which forms a regular bog would not carry so deep a bank. Evidence of this was pointed out to us; where the bank had been tipped on the original surface, the peat had heaved out on both sides and risen to a height of 15 feet. We noticed preparations being made for another viaduct of six arches being built here[*]. Under the bank runs the turnpike road between Sedbergh and Hawes, the bridge spanning the road being a very fine and massive structure. We now come to a cutting which has been the bugbear of the contract, containing 215,000 cub. yards of earth, and having a depth of 66 feet. A want of sufficient labour has been the cause of the works about here being in a backward state, although every effort has been made to induce men to stop. Comfortable huts have been erected close by, which have not been more than half filled, and higher wages have been given here than on any other part of the line. It being supposed that a want of amusement was the cause, a reading room was built, which was well supplied with weekly and illustrated newspapers. As an instance of the unsettled state of the men, although 1300 is about the number employed on the contract, no less than 20,000 have passed through the contractor's books. On walking through the cutting, we could partly understand the cause of this; the strata through which it passes is known as boulder clay or glacial drift, a very stiff blue clay filled with stones, some of which are immense blocks weighing several tons, all of which require to be broken into small fragments before they can be lifted into the wagons. The men naturally prefer working in some easier material, such as is to be found in other parts of the country.


[The Settle & Carlisle Railway] runs through a very sparsely populated country, and of course some special provisions had to be made for the accommodation of the numerous workers. To this end 116 temporary huts have been erected along the whole length, an inspection of some of which convinced us that for personal comfort they might compare very favourably with the farm houses in the immediate vicinity.


This contemporary account was transcribed by Mark R. Harvey from digitised versions of newspapers accessed via the British Newspaper Archive (

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