Railways at War: Cumbria and its Adjacent Counties

Railways at War: Cumbria and its Adjacent Counties, Ambulance Trains and ‘Jellicoe Specials’ Operated During the Great War. Cumbrian Railways Association, 2019. Quarto, 64 pages, illustrated, laminated card cover. £8. Post and packing £2.50. Overseas please ask for a quote.

“The book covers two very important aspects of the Great War, and without them victory would have been in doubt.

Written by CRA member John M Hammond, in the first part, the operation of specially built ambulance trains is described, with a particular reference to their use in the counties of Cumberland, Westmorland and north Lancashire. A network of these trains was set up to collect wounded soldiers arriving at our home ports to distribute them to the numerous specialist hospitals set up to treat the growing number of injured personnel.

In part two, John describes how high quality coal was transported to the north of Scotland to supply the ships of the Grand Fleet. These trains were called ‘Jellicoe Specials’ after the Admiral of the Fleet, John Rushworth Jellicoe and we learn how they were worked through the counties that now form the modern county of Cumbria.

Both stories record the valuable work done by the railways during the Great War, much of it never before covered at this level of detail. As you might expect, other railway companies operating both north and south of the border feature prominently in both parts.”




The History & Traditions of Ravenstonedale, Westmorland Volume 1 by the Rev. W. Nicholls

During the years that we were in Ravenstonedale we republished Volume 1 of The History and Traditions of Ravenstonedale. It is a paperback octavo with 113 pages. We still have some copies available at £6 plus £2 post and packing. Overseas customers please ask for a postage quote.

William Nicholls was the Minister of High Chapel Congregational Church, Ravenstonedale, from 1869 to 1883. He died in 1921 aged 86 and is buried at High Chapel.

His wife, nee Mary Ann Chamberlain, was a member of a noted Westmorland family. She pre-deceased him by 6 years and lies by his side in the little chapel graveyard. Their memorial stone can be found against the wall to the left of the path between the road and the building.

Nicholls had a keen interest in local history, writing five books on various localities. This volume is his first book, published in 1877. It was followed by The History and Traditions of Mallerstang Forest and Pendragon Castle in 1883. By the time this was published he had moved to Bury in Lancashire and he subsequently wrote two books on that part of the country, History and Traditions of Prestwich in 1904/5, and History and Traditions of Radcliffe in 1910. In 1914 his last book, like his first, was about Ravenstonedale and was issued as the second volume of The History and Traditions of Ravenstonedale, albeit separated from Volume 1 by some 37 years!

As he says in his Preface the contents were drawn from a series of lectures, given in the Public Room above the village school. It is this that accounts for the sometimes rather unusual style of presentation and for the extensive Appendix containing additional material which could not be fitted into the original lectures. Nicholls was a careful historian and although many of his anecdotes are based on local tradition we have had occasion to examine much of the original material from which he quotes and in every case his rendering follows it exactly.

The spelling and punctuation in this reprint follow the original as closely as possible.  The original subscribers’ list has been retained in view of its interest today. One or two printer’s errors were found in cross-references and these have been corrected.







The Pilling Pig – A History of the Garstang & Knott End Railway

The Pilling Pig – A History of Garstang & Knott End Railway by Dave Richardson. Published by Cumbrian Railways Association, 2018. Quarto, 112 pages, illustrated. £15 + £2.50 post and packing. Overseas please ask for a quote.

    “The latest CRA publication sees a slight move out of Cumbria into Lancashire to explore the origins and history of the Garstang & Knott End Railway (GKER) branch which ran from the now West Coast Main Line at Garstang to the terminus at Knott End on the river Wyre opposite Fleetwood.

Researched and written by CRA member Dave Richardson, this fascinating and detailed book covers the whole history of this charismatic line and its train nicknamed “The Pilling Pig”.

Starting from the origins and construction in the latter half of the 19th century, through the days of independent operation, Grouping, Nationalisation and up until final complete closure in 1965, this publication provides a highly comprehensive and detailed history.

As well as covering the general history of the railway, there are separate detailed chapters on the infrastructure and signalling, the goods and passenger services, the locomotives and rolling stock and, as a bonus, the Preesall salt industry.

The book contains numerous illustrations, some previously unpublished photographs and a wide range of detailed layout maps showing the development of the line and the stations. Also included are drawings of a selection of the locomotives, rolling stock and structures.”

We also have the following CRA new publications in stock:

Millom – A Cumberland Iron Town and its Railways by Alan Atkinson.  2012. Quarto, 112 pages, index, illustrated. £14 + £2.50 post and packing. Overseas please ask for a quote.

The book looks at both the industry of the area and the railways between the Duddon and the Esk. Chapter headings are:

  1. Pre-Industrial Millom (1086-1860)
  2. The Arrival of the Railway (1835-1866)
  3. Hodbarrow – A Great Mine (1855-1968)
  4. Millom Ironworks (1867-1968)
  5. The New Town (1866 onwards)
  6. The Furness Railway takes over (1866-1923)
  7. The Railway after 1923

Railwaymen of Cumbria Remembered – A Roll of Honour in remembrance of those who gave their lives in the service of their country during the Great War 1914-1918 researched and compiled by Peter Robinson. Published by CRA to mark the 90th Anniversary of the Armistice. £5 + £2 post and packing. Overseas please ask for a quote.

The book covers the following railways: Calendonian Railway, Citadel Station Joint Committee, Cleator & Workington Railway, Cockermouth, Keswick & Penrith Railway, Furness Railway, Glasgow & South Western Railway, London & North Western Railway, London & North Western & Furness Railways Joint Committee, Maryport & Carlisle Railway, Midland Railway, North British Railway and the North Eastern Railway,




New Book – Men of Swaledale

Paperback. Small octavo, 99 pages, illustrated.

Hayloft Publishing have recently republished the Yorkshire history classic “Men of Swaledale – An Account of Yorkshire Farmers and Miners” by Edmund Cooper. Originally published in 1960 it “contains precious stories from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries giving a real view of the hardships of farming and mining life.

There are tales of bare fist fights between hard working, hard drinking miners – some of these boxing matches were terrifying encounters. The miners who fought were strong, hefty men and stripped to the waist they punched hard with pounding blows, once beating off Weardale miners who had come over the moor intent on stealing game and sheep.

The book describes trips to Brough Hill Fair to buy horses, and Scots cattle drovers making their way down Swaledale. There are many insights into farming life, schools, religion, music nights, Old Christmas Day love feasts and much more.”

£10 plus £2 post and packing.



Water-Power Mills of South Lakeland by Michael Davies-Shiel

Water-Power Mills of South Lakeland by Mike Davies-Shiel.

ISBN 978 1 910237 15 1 Hardback. 222 pages, illustrated with 198 colour, black & white photgraphs, drawings and maps.

Many of you will have known or known of Mike Davies-Shiel who was a tireless and meticulous researcher and recorder of Cumbrian industrial history. He had a particular interest in mills and in 1978 Dalesman published his Watermills of Cumbria, a detailed study of corn mills, a book which is still in demand today.

In 1930 Titus Wilson published John Somervell’s Water Power Mills of South Westmorland. Nearly 35 years later Mike started to record the water mills of the Lake District armed with this book which he annotated in his inimitable style. His aim was to produce an update of Somervell’s work and for 30 plus years he researched and recorded, surveyed and photographed mills throughout the county. It was his intention to write the book after he could no longer be active in the field and at the time of his death it was thought that book had not been written. However, to the delight of molinologists, those interested in history and South Lakeland these chapters were found on his computer by his wife and son.

As no-one who knew Mike could possibly doubt, the book is detailed and meticulously researched. It is also highly readable. No wonder it is Cumbria Life’s Book of the Month.

The book is £24 + postage (£2.95 in the UK) If you happen to be attending a fair, conference etc where we are exhibiting and would like a copy do let me know and I will bring one along.


Cumbria Industrial History Society Conferences 2017

We had an excellent conference at Shap Wells on The Power of Water. Autumn’s conference will be on Saturday 14th October at Caldbeck Village Hall on “Industries around Caldbeck”. Further details will be available nearer the date and I will put them on our events page. In the meantime if you have an interest in the Industrial History of Cumbria do have a browse of the society’s webpages here

The weekend’s weather was glorious and on the Sunday some friends and I went for a walk around part of Morecambe Bay and came across this lime kiln. In the other picture eagle-eyed viaduct spotters may just be able to see the Leven Viaduct


Catalogue 149

We have just published catalogue 149 which has over 500 books on the history of industry and transport including mills, mining, maritme, civil & mechanical engineering, railways, canals, metallurgy etc.

If you would like a copy we can send it in a pdf file, simply e-mail us and request a copy.


Halecat Open Day, Sunday 11th September

As many of you will know there has long been a nursery at Halecat. In 2011 it was taken over by Abi and Tom who grow a range of perennial plants, shrubs and trees, the majority of which are grown on site.

On Sunday 11th September they are having a garden party with practical demonstrations, free talks and more.

Some of the outbuildings of the house have been converted into workshops and the artists will be open as well. One of them is my friend, Caroline who makes beautiful batik paintings & fabrics, many of which are plant based. On Monday I took some of our gardening books over to Halecat and Caroline now has them there on sale.

Created with Nokia Smart Cam

Ilkley Book Fair 2016

The last weekend of July was busy for us. We had the two day fair at Ilkley which this year was held in the Winter Gardens alone as the King’s Hall is being renovated. Next year we will have the usual space so not quite as crowded. However, it was fortunately not too hot a day, which made for a lovely fair. Next year’s fair is on Friday 28th and Saturday 29th July. Further details may be found on the PBFA website.