Tatham area railways 1845-1914

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Final days

The lines kept busy during the 1900s, becoming part of the London, Midland & Scottish Railway in 1923 and then British Rail in 1948, well illustrated in the references quoted.3,4,5

However, as a result of the rationalisation arising from the Beeching Report, passenger services were withdrawn at the end of 1965 on the Wennington to Green Ayre, Morecambe and Heysham sections, and goods traffic on all but the Heysham line. The Morecambe passengers and goods were routed, henceforth, through Bare Lane to Lancaster or through Carnforth to Leeds. Freight traffic to Lancaster continued for some years but was eventually discontinued, the track bed from Caton to Morecambe becoming a route for walkers and cyclists. The Clapham to Ingleton and Ingleton to Lowgill lines were also closed. Of the intermediate stations on the old NWR and F&MJR, just High Bentham and Wennington are open, but only to passengers. In most cases, other uses have been found for the other station buildings, yards and crossing cottages: converted to dwellings (Arkholme & Melling); demolished and new house/s built (Hornby, Wennington, Farleton Crossing); new industrial buildings built or adapted (Melling, Hornby); demolished (Wray Crossing); derelict (Clintsfield Crossing).


Did the “Little” North Western Railway fulfil the aspirations of its promoters and their Midland Railway successors during the first third of its history, from 1845 to early 1900s? More particularly, what were its impacts on the local area of the ancient parishes of Tatham and Melling?

Characteristically, many of the major initiatives in the development and operation of the line ultimately led to disappointment, with regard to their stated aims. Basically, traffic levels were always below the expectations of the NWR and MR because of the low level of the Scottish traffic, as a result of the LNWR’s competitiveness, and because the Irish traffic was hampered by the tidal nature of Morecambe’s port. Both led to new investments, the Settle to Carlisle line and the construction of the non-tidal Heysham dock. However, whether the latter was a sensible decision in the light of the pre-existence of the new Ramsden Dock complex at Barrow is debatable. However, there was the unexpected benefit of the ultimately huge rise of Morecambe as a rail destination for holiday traffic, still to reach its peak at the end of this period. There was also the benefit of the supply of raw materials to the iron industry of Barrow and Carnforth, initially unforeseen, and the general benefit of the flow of passengers and goods on what became relatively busy lines.

For the local population, some of the gains predicted by Pudsey Dawson in the opening ceremony did materialise. Undoubtably there was a potential for increased mobility and the knowledge and experience gained by travel. However, probably only a small proportion of the population regularly travelled any distance. Long-term labour movement was also aided, both immigration for the benefit of local industries and emigration to the industrial centres of the south, with the latter dominant and a major factor in the decline in the population over this period. What did not materialise was the long-term benefit to the local industrial economy, since it could not sustain the affects of an increased inflow of competing materials and goods; the extinction of the coal industry is just one example. For agriculture, there was easier access to markets, for sale of stock and produce, and purchase of breeding stock, e.g. from Ireland. However, it is difficult to judge in detail because of the lack of information, such as station accounts.

MK 2010
Page created 10-7-2010. Latest update 15-7-2010

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