Lancaster’s Line to the Sea – A History of the Glasson Branch of the LNWR

A new title from Cumbrian Railways Association. Quarto, 88 pages, illustrated. Paperback. £15.00 + postage UK £2.15

“For its next publication, the Cumbrian Railways Association has moved slightly outside the geographical boundaries of Cumbria to examine the branch from Lancaster Castle Station to Glasson Dock. From 1883 when the line was opened, the operation of the port was in many respects a collaboration between the Lancaster Port Commissioners and the LNWR and the relationship between these two bodies is fully explored. The former dealt with all maritime matters, whilst the railway dealt with the loading and unloading of vessels and of course the movement of cargos by rail.

In addition to serving the wet dock at Glasson, a siding from the branch served the river quay, situated upstream at Lancaster itself.

Written by Dave Richardson, the book covers in detail the origins of the scheme, the construction of the branch and then its operation under the LNWR and its successors. There are also separate chapters on locomotives and passenger rolling stock and on signalling and train control.

A significant amount of the information relating to the branch has been drawn from the records of the Lancaster Port Commissioners and this has helped to provide a detailed and unique insight into the story of the line and its operation. For most of the line’s existence, rail traffic at the Lancaster end was dominated by the activities of James Williamson & Son, linoleum manufacturers, who, by the eve of the Great War, commanded huge markets at home and abroad and in the British Empire. Williamson’s colossal Lune Mills sat alongside the branch and the firm’s archive has been examined with a view to providing a detailed account of its relationship with the railway.

The publication is up to the usual high standard set by the CRA and is comprehensively illustrated with coloured maps, drawings and a large number of photographs. In particular, much use has been made of locally sourced images, many of which have not previously been published.”

New CRA Title – Kendal Tommy

Kendal Tommy – A History of the Arnside-Hincaster Branch

A New title from Cumbrian Railways Association

“This new book deals with the origins and history of the line between Arnside on the Furness Railway and Hincaster Junction on the LNWR. As well as having all the characteristics of a typical rural branch, the line was regularly used as a shortcut for excursion and special passenger trains as well as by coke trains running between the north east and the iron works of the Furness area.

Within its 96 pages, the book provides extensive coverage of the services on the line, as well as the stations, sidings and signalling. Additionally, there is a dedicated chapter covering the quarry and lime works at Sandside. Profusely illustrated with photographs, maps and scale drawings of some of the structures.”

£14. Post in the UK £2.70. Overseas please ask for a quote.

Barrow Steelworks

Barrow Steelworks – An Illustrated History of the Haematite Steel Company by Stan Henderson and Ken Royall. Published by The History Press 2015. Octavo, 160 pages, illustrated. ISBN 9780750963787 Originally published at £14.99 now £5 plus £2 p&p in the UK. Overseas postage please ask for a quote.

“During the second half of the nineteenth century, Barrow-in-Furness became a pioneer in iron and steel production. It went on to grow astronomically – owning collieries in three counties and ore mines in two – and became the largest integrated steelworks in north Lancashire and Cumberland and, at one time, the largest steelworks in the world. Its success was due, in part, to having the prestige of three dukes as directors, as well as to being only 2 miles away from one of the largest and richest iron ore mines in the country.

Written by two former employees of the works, Barrow Steelworks chronicles the company’s past from the early empire through the inter-war and post-war years, the development of continuous casting in the early 1950s, which revolutionised steelmaking, and, finally, the struggles and ultimate demise from the 1960s onwards of this once prominent industry.”

A New Title From Barrai Books


Barrow-in-Furness and its Railway by Michael Andrews.

Paperback. 247mm x 243mm, 150 pages. Fully illustrated with half-tone and colour photographs, maps and drawings. £25.50. Postage in the UK £2.50

“The Victorian era gave birth to several so-called ‘Railway Towns’ – Crewe, Derby and Swindon come to mind, but not usually Barrow. Yet, in truth, Barrow owes its very origin to its Railway. When in 1846 the infant Furness Railway reached the iron ore staiths on the shore opposite Old Barrow Island there was nothing there beyond a couple of farms and a few cottages, housing in all about 150 people. The Railway only ran a few miles inland and made no connection with any other railway. Its purpose was only to enable the export of local slate and iron ore to other parts of the country.Within less than a generation Barrow-in-Furness had become a municipal borough with 18,000 citizens. By 1867 it was a port with a system of docks, streets of houses had sprung up and there were shops, schools, churches and all the necessary public utilities. Its iron and steel works were expanding to become the largest in Europe. The Furness Railway had grown to become part of a through route from West Cumberland to Lancashire, Yorkshire, the Midlands and London. The leading lights of the Railway Company were the pioneers of the town council and promoters of its new industries. The General Manager of the Railway had a plan for the progressive development of the town and was appointed the first Mayor on its incorporation as a Borough.How this transformation from such modest beginnings happened was first studied by Michael Andrews in the 1950s. Not until 2003 did the story appear in a published form in the Cumbrian Railways Association monograph ‘The Furness Railway in and Around Barrow’ now long out of print. The present volume brings the story to life again with many of Michael Andrews’ own photographs plus archive illustrations, some in colour. The specially produced maps that support the text are now also enhanced with colour.‘Barrow-in-Furness and its Railway’ will be a lasting record of the way the building of a railway led to the founding of a town and the nature of its industry. It is a book that should find a place on the shelves of local homes and in the libraries of local schools so that its story is remembered and appreciated.”


Bigrigg – A New Title from the Cumbrian Railways Association

Bigrigg: Whitehaven, Cleator and Egremont Railway – The Bigrigg Branch & Iron Ore Team by The Bigrigg Research Team.  Published by the Cumbrian Railways Association, 2020. Quarto, 48 pages, index, bibliography, illustrated. £7.50 + £2 p&p in the UK. Overseas please email for a quote.

“The book covers a fascinating area of West Cumbria that has had little written about it. Situated between Whitehaven and Egremont few people today will be aware as to how important Bigrigg was during the Industrial Revolution, that its output of minerals was so important to the local economy and expansion of the area. The book delves into the past to bring the present alive and helps our understanding of the current topography of the area. It is amazing to see just how complicated the pits and railways were.

Within the space of little over 1 square mile, there were over 40 pits in Bigrigg, and the vast majority were rail connected. Now, there are very few traces of this once busy scene. The history of this is complicated by the multiplicity of land owners, mineral rights owners, mine owners and mine lessees. This book details the extensive research which has been undertaken to unravel this history and relate the story of this branch and its mines.

The book is 48 pages, with numerous maps, photographs of both the area in its heyday and showing what remains today along with extracts from historical documents.”







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 £5 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.