How they built the Settle-Carlisle railway: F - Contract 4

This page presents a selection of contemporary accounts relating to the construction of the Settle-Carlisle Railway in the Crowdundle to Durranhill 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. 4: Crowdundle to Durranhill

4.1: On the line there are over 1,000 men, 70 horses, 4 locomotives, and 12 station engines. Mr. Allis is contractor, Mr. Lambert is head manager over the contract, Mr. Williams is manager and engineer of the south end of the contract, Mr. Stewart is resident engineer. L.G. (1873)

4.2: In the deeply-wooded gill at Crowdundle Beck, about a quarter of a mile from Temple Sowerby. . .all was life and work and noise. The rattling of steam cranes, the puffing of engines, the clang of masons' and carpenters' tools, and the din of tongues and the singing of birds, were like life from the dead. . .The viaduct over the gill consists of three piers and two abutments, and four arches of 45ft span. The arches will be turned with red sandstone. To the coping stones from the surface is about 50ft. Some of the stones which were dug from Crowdundle quarry were of massive size. L.G. (1873)

4.3: At Culgaith. . there is a tunnel through a high bank in a forward state towards completion. It is 800 yards in length, 700 yards of which are completed.. .the sides and arches are of brick. The facings at the entrances of the tunnel are of blue Staffordshire brick, with string courses and coping of freestone. The excavation was through hard red marl. L.G. (1873)

4.4: All the foundations at Eden Lacy Viaduct are in, and some of the piers are at springing, and the remainder are within 15 feet of springing. About a quarter of a mile from this viaduct a three arched ornamental bridge spans the line as an occupation way for Col. Sanderson of Eden Lacy House to pass from one part of his park to the other. This bridge is the finest piece of masonry on the Settle and Carlisle line, and its workmanship is a credit to both architect and workmen. The piers and arches are faced with rustic quoins, and the spring courses, parapets, and coping are all tooled and diamond hammered on the outward surfaces. The bridge, which was nearly finished, is built of old red sandstone, which with the superior workmanship gave it a unique appearance. L.G. (1873)

4.5: At Eden Lacy viaduct, some difficulty was experienced by the engineers in getting a foundation down on the red sandstone, in consequence of the gravel that had accumulated in the bed of the river; and it became necessary to make a coffer dam. Accordingly, a double row of piles was driven into the bed of the river so as to form an oval; "puddling" was put between the two series of piles, to keep the water from running in; the water inside the oval was then pumped out by engines, and the foundation excavated and cleared. M.R. (1876)

4.6: Shortly before entering Baronwood there is a heavy cutting through red sandstone, 660 yards in length and 50ft in depth. Some splendid blocks of stone had been dug from this cutting and used for many of the bridges and viaducts on the line. Though the cutting was finished, still on account of the excellent character of the rock a number of men were quarrying stone from the east side of the line for railway purposes. L.G. (1873)

4.7: The Barren Park Cutting through red sandstone is a very heavy undertaking, as it is 42ft in its deepest place and nearly a mile in length. Just on the north side of Samson's Cave the line is cut out of the edge of a high bank, so that the west side of it has the appearance of a deep cutting while that on the east has the appearance of an embankment sloping down to the brink of Eden. L.G. (1873)

4.8: After passing [southwards from Carlisle] under Duncowfold Bridge, a large tract of ground has been taken for ballast. The railway from this point to Armathwaite, along the rugged banks of the Eden, must have been very heavy work. After half a mile of filling there is a gorge over which the scaffolding is being erected in order to throw a small viaduct of three arches, in height sixty feet from the bed of the brook. Crossing this deep defile with some difficulty, three quarters of a mile brings us to what is known by the name of the slip at Eden Brows, and which the gangers say has been the heaviest part of this expensive line.

The railway rises here 120 feet above the bed of the river, and this deep gorge had to be filled in with earth. After many months' tipping it was found that the foundations were slipping—that is the earth was moving en masse towards the river. Growing plantations shifted their position in this direction, and trees may now be seen growing 40 yards from the place in which they stood a few years ago, while the breadth of the river has been reduced apparently about one half.

Two years ago at this spot the men were tipping earth —to the number of 15 or 20. They are still tipping and the work is not yet complete, although very nearly so. C.J.

4.9: At Carlisle a large area of land, perhaps 50 acres, is being prepared for the building of station, offices, goods warehouses, station yard, etc. L.G. (1873)

4.10: The goods station at Carlisle covers 80 acres of land and comprises Engine Sheds, Goods Warehouses, Cattle Docks, Marshalling Sidings, etc. The present joint Carlisle passenger station is being enlarged and remodelled to admit of the new traffic. W.A. (1876)

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