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Alternative routes and destinations that weren't to be





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#1 Jason T

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 11:09

Something I quite often ponder over is what certain routes and the surrounding areas would have looked like if the suggested alternatives had been built rather than what was actually constructed. For me, the two that spring to mind and would have been interesting to see are as follows.

The Kendal to Ambleside railway.
When being constructed, there were ideas to carry the railway on from Windermere through to Ambleside; indeed, Windermere was still known as Birthwaite and was a hamlet, the town taking the name from the station (actually, from the post office at the station) whereas Ambleside was already an established (if small) market town.
If the station had been built at, say, Waterhead, then there would have been pretty much direct access to the lake steamers (along the lines of Lakeside, perhaps?), tourist traffic to match or perhaps exceed Windermere (Windermere village and station are a good mile or so from the lake and Bowness, and it's quite a hill), and outbound freight in the form of slate from the Langdale valleys, where one of the slate quarries at Elterwater is still operating today.
If I recall correctly, one of the main reasons that it didn't happen is because of the geography of the area; it would be quite a climb from Ambleside to Windermere. Plus, our old friend Wordsworth was dead against it.

The WCML
There were apparently two alternatives considered for the routing of the WCML; one up the Lune Valley and the other passing through Kendal, up Longsleddale, tunneling under Harter Fell / Branstree (basically under the Gatescarth Pass) and then following Haweswater and I presume picking up the current route somewhere not far North of Shap.
It's the latter route that interests me as I've spent many a happy day riding / pushing my mountain bike up Gatescarth to ride down the other side and then tackle the awesome / insane Nan Bield Pass. If this route had been taken, then a trip up the WCML would have taken in views such as the ones in the below link. I imagine that the thought of tunneling under Harter Fell was what put them off, but for me the landscape beats that of the climb from Tebay to Shap hands down.

http://www.grough.co...l-the-quiet-way

Thing is, it then gets you thinking about whether other routes would have built anyway, or whether because of the lack of possible connections, if the whole railway map of the area would have been different. Without the WCML passing through Tebay, for instance, would the Stainmore route have followed the same course and met with the WCML somewhere near Kendal, would it have been built to connect with the S&C and then beared west to head for Carnforth to still meet up with the all important connection with the Furness Railway and it's very reason for existence (supplying coke to the furnaces of Furness - I like that ;) ), or taken some other route completely?


Of course, these alternatives open up all kinds of possibilities for modelling "could have been" routes in some spectacular scenery. I recall that Kendal MRC looked into a model of Ambleside many years ago, and imagine how stunning a layout of Long Sleddale would be; up there with Blea Moor as a minimum.

Edited by Sandside, 02 February 2012 - 11:11 .

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#2 D9020 Nimbus

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 15:25

Many years ago (1973, IIRC) Arthur Whitehead wrote an article in RM about an imaginary line north from Windermere to Ambleside. He also considered an extension to Keswick, complete with a tunnel under Dunmail Rise...

#3 Ramblin Rich

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 15:46

Interesting ideas. There was / is a large OO layout called "The Kendal Lines" which was in Model Railway Constructor in the early 80s, this was based on the scenario of the WCML passing through Kendal & was based inlate LNWR period. Basically had Kendal as a large main line junction station with lines to Windermere & another branch as well. Can't recall too much (magazines stashed out of reach at the mo'), but I remember the author discussing the idea of the tunnels route to the north of Kendal. I also seem to remeber a series of article in Railway Modeller about an N gauge layout set in the area.
I've mused on ideas around Ambleside, either as a lakeside terminus, lakeside halt & town terminus, or even a through station with the line continuing up past Grasmere (just to really 'p' off Wordsworth!), tunnel under Dumail Rise then down Thirlmere to Keswick. Back towards Windermere, there could also be a station / halt at Troutbeck with a fine viaduct over the valley there....
I believe all these scenarios were suggested during the railway mania years!

EDIT - Nimbus posted as I was composing re Dunmail Rise!

Edited by Ramblin Rich, 02 February 2012 - 15:46 .


#4 Jason T

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 15:46

It is not beyond the realms of possibility to imagine the Furness Railway continuing the Lakeside line along the western shore of Windermere to meet the LNWR at Ambleside, had it been reached. Saying that, I like the western shore as it is (without much of anything, never mind a railway) as it's a lot more peaceful than the tourist traps on the east shore (Bowness, or 'Blackpool of the Lakes' as it used to be known by locals, is probably as far as many tourists get into the Lakes and they are welcome to the place).

Dunmail raise would be another huge engineering project to tunnel through. That route would have really upset Wordsworth as I imagine it would have passed within yards of his house.
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#5 Jason T

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 15:56

Does make you wonder whether Windermere would have remained as Birthwaite and been about the size of Ings (although probably not, as you do get some stunning views of the lake as you drop down into the town) and Ambleside would have grown proportionately. There could have been a branch heading up into Great Landale to service the slate quarries, with a very rural and diminutive station at Elterwater (near the Britannia Inn?) and another at Skelwith Bridge. Now that would have been a scenic line to rival any other in the UK although I wouldn't for a second imagine it lasting even into the 60's.

It must be said that I love the Lakes exactly as it is (with the exception of Bowness, obviously) but that is because I only know it as it is. If the Coniston branch hadn't been built, would the thought of a railway heading up there horrify me to the level that it did Ruskin? Probably not :)
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#6 Ohmisterporter

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 16:56

If I remember my history correctly the Stephensons' proposal for the Lancaster and Carlisle Railway was to cross Morecambe Bay on a viaduct and then go round the coast basically following the present coast line to Carlisle. This was because they didn't want the expense of long tunnels, or stiff gradients. Joseph Locke created what is now the WCML accepting the gradients up to Shap with the foresight of ever more powerful engines reducing the need for multitudes of bankers at Tebay. If one reads descriptions of early railways with two engines pulling and up to five pushing it is easy to understand the Stephensons' worries.
Slightly off topic, there was talk a few years ago of a cable car running from Grasmere up to Langdale IIRC but nothing came of it. What would Wordsworth have thought of that? Nimbyism is nothing new.


Edited by Ohmisterporter, 04 August 2013 - 19:23 .


#7 Jason T

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 17:12

I presume the idea would have been to cut across the bay lower than Arnside; no wonder that idea didn't float as the viaduct itself probably would have! The FR had to surround the original wooden piers of Arnside Viaduct with brick as the wood was so rotten and that's a relatively short crossing. I do remember when I was a kid that there was talk of building a road across from Morecambe to Barrow (or somewhere between Barrow and Ulverston), but I imagine the engineering practicalities of that made them see sense in the end as well.

Never heard of a proposed cable car in Grasmere; at least it would have allowed the 99% of tourists who never venture over half a mile from their cars to actually see what the real Lake District is about. There is a ski tow up on Helvellyn, on the slopes above the Glenridding YHA but I'm not sure if it is still operable and you would have to be keen to hike up to use it

#8 APOLLO

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 17:34

The Manchester Sheffield & Lincolnshire Rly (MS&L - Money Sunk & Lost, later Great Central & LNER - Late & Never Early !) planned for the Glazebrook (Cheshire Lines Liverpool - Manchester line) to Wigan Central line to be extended north of Wigan. It was intended to continue north up the valley of the River Douglas & cross the WCML around Boars Head (near where I live), then continue through West Lancashire, and bridge the Ribble estuary west of Preston. The ultimate aim being Blackpool. This line was of course, never built, but land was bought in Wigan for it. Some was rented / later sold to the Wigan Rugby League club, hence the name, Central Park, now, alas a huge Tesco.

Wigan Central featured in a Railway Modeller mag many years ago, quite a good informative article. Central was a little used one train every 2 hours one platform terminus. It closed in 1964. When it was built it had 4 platforms, ready for the proposed extension. Would make a nice layout. Alas I chose to model the LNWR Springs Branch industrial line instead. Perhaps one day !!

Brit15

Edited by APOLLO, 02 February 2012 - 17:36 .

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#9 Butler Henderson

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 20:31

And then there was the Lancashire, Derbyshire & East Coast ; Warrington to Sutton on Sea albeit only Chesterfield to Lincoln got built. Not certain of the arrangements in the NW but it was to cross Monsal Dale by a viaduct that would make the Midland line look like N gauge.

#10 Poggy1165

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Posted 12 February 2012 - 09:47

The Manchester Sheffield & Lincolnshire Rly (MS&L - Money Sunk & Lost, later Great Central & LNER - Late & Never Early !) planned for the Glazebrook (Cheshire Lines Liverpool - Manchester line) to Wigan Central line to be extended north of Wigan. It was intended to continue north up the valley of the River Douglas & cross the WCML around Boars Head (near where I live), then continue through West Lancashire, and bridge the Ribble estuary west of Preston. The ultimate aim being Blackpool. This line was of course, never built, but land was bought in Wigan for it. Some was rented / later sold to the Wigan Rugby League club, hence the name, Central Park, now, alas a huge Tesco.


The original plan to extend to Blackpool was abandoned in the 1890s as the company simply hadn't the brass to build both it and the London branch. (In fact, they hadn't really the money to build either.)

Later the GCR proposed a line from Wigan to Heysham with a branch to Blackpool. I believe many of the documents relating to this can be found in Wigan library. (I first became aware of the project because the Wigan Library Service put some of the items on display at the Wigan MRE one year.) Needless to say this very ambitious project (including a very ambitious viaduct over the Ribble, avoiding Preston) came to naught. I strongly suspect that the GC hoped to get the Midland involved, as the project would have given the latter a much quicker and more direct route to its Heysham port. (The sale of half the Wigan Junction line to the MR would have nicely offset the GC's share of the lines north of Wigan.) One presumes however that the Midland were not inclined to play ball - I doubt very much the GCR could have afforded to go it alone as it (although profitable in terms of traffic revenue v operating costs) was already severely over-capitalised. That is, there was not enough money coming in to pay an ordinary dividend because there were too many shares for the size of the company and what money there was had to go to the debenture and preference stock holders.
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#11 Xerces Fobe2

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Posted 12 February 2012 - 10:29

Truro Newham Station if it has survived was located nearer to the city centre and could of helped the GWR/BR compete with the bus companies on the Falmouth- Truro route for local traffic

http://homepage.ntlw...gn/page 99.html

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#12 peanuts

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 12:18

can remember reading in a book on Saddleworths railways of a project to double and extend the Delph branch up the tame valley towards Denshaw then tunnel under the moor and come out at Rishworth (close to where the resevoir is now )and running down the valley to connect with the Rishworth branch and on to halifax ! This would of resulted in a tunnel of around four miles between Denshaw & Rishworth which put the whole project at a finnacial disadvantage .

#13 Edwin_m

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 13:42

According to something I found somewhere on the Web, the Rishworth branch was intended to be continued through to re-join the Calder Valley line somewhere above Rochdale (or was it the Oldham loop near Milnrow?) and therefore cut off the indirect route via Summit tunnel. I think joining to Delph would have been a non-starter as one was L&Y and the other LNWR.

Edited by Edwin_m, 14 May 2012 - 13:44 .


#14 TerryD1471

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 16:28

A particular favourite of mine is the Manchester & Milford Railway and its grand scheme to build a line over the Cambrian mountains. The actual route of this grandly named but cash-poor line was from Pencader, north of Carmarthen to Aberystwyth and it would only have linked the two towns in its title by running over much mileage of other companies' routes.

The easy bit of the line from Pencader to near Pontrhydfendigaed was built, but when they had to start the serious task of climbing, they realised they had no money and turned left for Aberystwyth instead. The mountain section s-west from Llanidloes through Llangurig and up into the hills was actually built as far as Llangurig and even today the earthworks to the west of there can clearly be seen.

The Carmarthen - Aberystwyth line itself was closed by degrees from 1964 on and even though it travelled through lightly populated country, its rather contrived closure caused substantial hardship. Even now the fastest journey by road struggles to match the time taken by trains back around 1963. And what a benefit it would have brought to the university town of Lampeter had the students been able to travel there by train?

What a vision it would have been had the M & M managed to raise the capital to build the line! The prospect of seeing trains battling up the steep grades to finally cross Cwm Ystwyth on a viaduct over 200 ft high would have been a sight indeed. And would oil traffic from Milford Haven have gone that way?

#15 TerryD1471

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 16:59

In case anyone thinks I have gone barkingly completely off topic with this last post, I plead the fact that the railway in question had Manchester in the title. Apart from that, of course they're right!

#16 TerryD1471

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 17:05

The Manchester Sheffield & Lincolnshire Rly (MS&L - Money Sunk & Lost, later Great Central & LNER - Late & Never Early !) planned for the Glazebrook (Cheshire Lines Liverpool - Manchester line) to Wigan Central line to be extended north of Wigan. It was intended to continue north up the valley of the River Douglas & cross the WCML around Boars Head (near where I live), then continue through West Lancashire, and bridge the Ribble estuary west of Preston. The ultimate aim being Blackpool. This line was of course, never built, but land was bought in Wigan for it. Some was rented / later sold to the Wigan Rugby League club, hence the name, Central Park, now, alas a huge Tesco.

Wigan Central featured in a Railway Modeller mag many years ago, quite a good informative article. Central was a little used one train every 2 hours one platform terminus. It closed in 1964. When it was built it had 4 platforms, ready for the proposed extension. Would make a nice layout. Alas I chose to model the LNWR Springs Branch industrial line instead. Perhaps one day !!

Brit15


Only 1 thing to add to your interpretation of M S & L (money sunk and lost) is that G C meant "gone completely".
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#17 Sweeps

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Posted 12 May 2013 - 16:00

Not forgetting the proposed extension of the line from Preston to Longridge into Yorkhire which involved the construction of a cutting at Hurst Green which can still be seen today - just never had any track.
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#18 TonyW

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 08:58

Is there any more information on the proposal to run the WCML through Kendal?  I assume the facilities would have been similar to Tebay. 

 

As a 'might have been' project this interests me as I am currently struggling to cram a much cut down Rugby Midland into 21' x 13' running the facilities round three side of the room. 

 

A 1950's 'Kendal Junction' on the WCML would still allow me to run Staniers finest without the compromises of truncating a real location.  Add to this the Lake District is my favorite UK location after where I am now living.

 

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#19 jamie92208

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 09:37

I think the Kendal Lines was part of David Jenkinsons story that became Kendal Castle. IIRC this had a line from Dent Head to keandal via Marthwaite and a branch from the LNWR so that he could run all the stock that he had.

 

Back to the OP I'm sure that the WCML long tunnel was a definite plan.  I think that Shap, with it's bad gradients was only ment to be a temporary solution.  I haven't got any books where I am at the moment so can't enlarge on that.  However the original Stephenson line was to go roun d the coast.

 

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#20 Orinoco

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 09:54

Before the Overend & Gurney bank crash in 1866, railway building was the great financial bubble of its age, comparable with dot.coms and others we see today. Everywhere there were plans for new railways - many rivals and duplicates of routes that were eventually built, but some not so. Not all were crazy, by any means. It seems almost to have been a lottery as to which ones actually got built - certainly not always the best. The existing railway companies often built blocking lines to claim territory, rather than because they were sensible routes from an economic or geographical point of view.

 

One early line that only got part-built was the Ambergate, Nottingham, Boston and Eastern Junction Railway . There were many other ideas in the area including one from Newark to Gainsborough - which might actually have been useful!



#21 jamie92208

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 16:18

Before the Overend & Gurney bank crash in 1866, railway building was the great financial bubble of its age, comparable with dot.coms and others we see today. Everywhere there were plans for new railways - many rivals and duplicates of routes that were eventually built, but some not so. Not all were crazy, by any means. It seems almost to have been a lottery as to which ones actually got built - certainly not always the best. The existing railway companies often built blocking lines to claim territory, rather than because they were sensible routes from an economic or geographical point of view.

 

One early line that only got part-built was the Ambergate, Nottingham, Boston and Eastern Junction Railway . There were many other ideas in the area including one from Newark to Gainsborough - which might actually have been useful!

It got so bad in the first 'Railway Mania' of the 1840's Parliament actually stepped in the try and bring some order out of chaos.  Thus the system that is still in force came in that all proivate bills for things such as Railways, had to be deposited at the same time of the year and then a committee would sort out the duplicatres and sometimes knock heads together which is how some of the joint lines came about.

 

Jamie



#22 George91

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Posted 04 August 2013 - 15:39

Regarding the proposed GCR route from Wigan to the Fylde, was there a proposed route for the line actually sketched out? 

 

Looking at the map, one possible route would be something like Wigan-Standish-Wrightington-Eccleston, with Midge Hall on the Ormskirk branch maybe becoming a junction between the GCR and LYR. A second junction could've been made with the L&Y Southport line at New Longton, before crossing the Ribble. 

 

It's a very interesting "what if" route. 


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#23 Jason T

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Posted 06 August 2013 - 05:32

Having read more about the railways of Kendal now, both proposed and actual, if the WCML had passed through the town and then followed the River Mint up Long Sleddale (and a full survey was carried out on this proposed route), then the line to Windermere would have been less likely to have been built. It's reason for existing, it seems, is not to build a railway to Windermere but to ensure that Kendal had it's own station because the locals felt that Oxenholme was too far away!

Another proposed route for the Stainmore line was for it to meet the WCML near Milnthorpe, which I imagine would have meant that the facilities at Tebay (whose very existence as a village is surely due to the railway) would have been vastly reduced and Milnthorpe may have become quite an important junction. Or, would Carnforth (5 miles to the South) have become even larger with marshalling yards for trains from the NER being sited on the land near Warton Village and yet anther railway company's shed being sited there?

#24 jamie92208

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Posted 06 August 2013 - 16:01

Having read more about the railways of Kendal now, both proposed and actual, if the WCML had passed through the town and then followed the River Mint up Long Sleddale (and a full survey was carried out on this proposed route), then the line to Windermere would have been less likely to have been built. It's reason for existing, it seems, is not to build a railway to Windermere but to ensure that Kendal had it's own station because the locals felt that Oxenholme was too far away!

Another proposed route for the Stainmore line was for it to meet the WCML near Milnthorpe, which I imagine would have meant that the facilities at Tebay (whose very existence as a village is surely due to the railway) would have been vastly reduced and Milnthorpe may have become quite an important junction. Or, would Carnforth (5 miles to the South) have become even larger with marshalling yards for trains from the NER being sited on the land near Warton Village and yet anther railway company's shed being sited there?

Are you sure about the Milnthorpe connection.  As far as I know that was just the loop from Milnthorpe down towards Silverdale that allowed the coke trains to turn west towards Barrow at I think Hincaster junction.   The geography between Stainmore and Milnthorpe wouldn't ahve leant itself to a very well designed railway.  However I stand ready to be corrected.

 

Jamie



#25 Velopeur

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Posted 06 August 2013 - 16:20

Regarding the proposed GCR route from Wigan to the Fylde, was there a proposed route for the line actually sketched out? 

 

Looking at the map, one possible route would be something like Wigan-Standish-Wrightington-Eccleston, with Midge Hall on the Ormskirk branch maybe becoming a junction between the GCR and LYR. A second junction could've been made with the L&Y Southport line at New Longton, before crossing the Ribble. 

 

It's a very interesting "what if" route. 

 

According to the West Lancashire Railway book, the route was Wigan to Longton, running powers over the WLR to Preston and then a new line from Preston to Blackpool









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