This page presents a selection of contemporary accounts relating to the construction of the Settle-Carlisle Railway in the Smardale to Crowdundle area between 1869 and 1876.
They have been extracted from “How they built the Settle-Carlisle railway” by W.R. Mitchell (published by Castleberg in 1989, reprinted in 2001) and the extracts are reproduced here with the kind permission of Dr Mitchell. The extracts are presented as they were written in the original sources, which means there are variations in the spelling of place names and in punctuation. The numbers at the beginning of each extract were not part of the original text: they have been added to aid cross-referencing.
The Foreword and Introduction page explains how these extracts were obtained and provides a key to the abbreviations used.
Contract No. 3: Smardale to Crowdundle
3.1: The Third Contract ends a little on the south side of Crowdundle beck, which divides Westmorland and Cumberland. The Company's resident engineer is Mr. Drage; contractor's engineer, Mr. Phillips; contractor, Mr. Firbank; manager, Mr. Throssel. On the Contract there are four locomotive engines, 17 portable engines and steam cranes, 1,400 men, 111 horses, 500 earth wagons, 2,000 tons of contractor's temporary rails in use, and several miles of permanent way laid. L.G. (1873)
3.2: Crosby Garrett Tunnel is through solid rock, which is a mixture of limestone and grit, and at the heading, which was within 20 yards of the south entrance, the rock is mixed with flint, and is so hard that it is very difficult to excavate. The tunnel is 176 yards in length, and from the nature of the rock it will be necessary to line it throughout with brick. Nearly one hundred men are employed at this undertaking. L.G. (1873)
3.3: At a short distance from Crow Hill, the Helm Tunnel begins, which is nearly 600 yards in length, 26ft wide and over 20ft in height. The sides are stone finished, and the arches are turned with brick. The entrances to the tunnel are faced with excellent freestone from a quarry in the neighbourhood. Though the interior of the tunnel has been finished some time ago, the last stones of the facing of the north arch were put in place on the 19th of June, before breakfast. At the Helm, not far from the tunnel there is an extensive hut village where brickmaking and various kinds of employment connected with the railway are carried on. L.G. (1873)
3.4: Ormside Viaduct, which is the first over the Eden, consists of nine piers and two block piers, and ten arches. The piers are of freestone and the arches will be turned with brick. From the bed of the river to the top of the parapet will be 100ft. The viaduct is at a short distance above the Clint rock, which stands out very prominently on the north side of the Eden. L.G. (1873)
3.5: At Ormside Viaduct, John Payne and another man were raising about two tons of lime by means of a travelling crane. When it had been raised to the proper height, Payne's companion let the handle on his side go before the crane was locked or "spanged". The lime went down again. The handle being held by Payne was forced round with such ferocity he was struck on the arm, which was broken in several places and he also received a severe blow on the head. He was taken to Appleby to be attended by Dr. Armstrong. His injuries are of a serious nature. C.W.A. (1873)
3.6: At Long Marton, one of the largest villages in the county, and at a distance of three miles north east of Appleby, there is a neat viaduct over Troutbeck. It consists of four piers and two block piers with five arches of 45 feet span. The height to rail level is 60ft. The arches are turned with brick and faced with red and white sandstone alternately. The quoins are red sandstone. This viaduct was all finished except one parapet. L.G. (1873)
3.7: A sad accident befell a young man of the name of Donaldson, a native of Carlisle. He was employed carting stones from Dufton Quarry to the railway works at Appleby. He was on his way to Dufton with a heavy wagon and two horses, riding in front, and on turning a corner at Gallows Hill met a cart laden with wood, at which his horse shied, and he was thrown from his seat and the wheels of the wagon passed over one of his thighs and arm, both of which were broken and the poor fellow sadly crushed. He was conveyed to Belgravia Buildings, within a short distance, and attended by Dr. Armstrong, and now lies in a very critical state. C.W.A. (1872)
3.8: On Boxing Day, the mechanics and other officials in various departments engaged under Mr. Joseph Firbank, the contract for the Appleby section No. 3 of the Settle and Carlisle Railway Extension, met according to their annual custom—in whatever part of the world they may be engaged—to celebrate Boxing Day by a public dinner and entertainment. It took place at the Crown and Cushion Hotel. An excellent and substantial repast was prepared by the hostess, Mrs. Longrigg, to which between 40 and 50 did full justice to the good things provided. Mr. Brown Firbank occupied the chair. A number of toasts were interspersed with songs, recitations, etc. An agreeable and pleasant concert was accompanied by violin, concertina and banjo. C.W.A. (1872)
3.9: On February 13, the ceremony of fixing the last brick in Helm Tunnel was performed by Mr. W.S. Fulton, of the Cumberland Union Bank, Appleby, in the presence of a large number of officials. The tunnel, which is about 600 yards long, was brilliantly lighted up for the occasion. A stage being erected in the centre, round which the company assembled, Mr. Fulton proceeded with trowel in hand to the top, and, having duly fixed the brick in the aperture, amid ringing cheers, intimated the successful completion of "The Helm Tunnel". He proposed in succession three cheers for Mr. Firbank, the contractor, Mr. Throssle, the representative of Mr. Firbank, and other officials connected with the works. Mr. Drage, the Company's engineer, said it was nearly two years since the first stone was laid in Helm Tunnel, which had been completed without loss of life or any serious accident. L.G. (1873)
The other pages in the series "How they built the Settle-Carlisle railway" can be accessed via the following links: