The Coniston Railway

by David Murray on 3 February 2009

in History, Northern England, Railways

In a previous posting I mentioned recently visiting the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway after staying overnight at Muncaster Castle, Ravenglass.  During the same trip, while further north, I had a chance to slip into Michael Moon’s bookshop in Whitehaven.  I’d not gone for anything in particular but enjoyed maybe thirty minutes just browsing around and came out with a small paperback book about the Coniston railway.

The Coniston Railway

Nowadays many people may be surprised to know that Coniston ever had a railway, but in fact for almost a hundred years there was a branch line from Foxfield through Torver to Coniston.  The Coniston copper mines were the principal reason for its existence in the early days but by the time it was eventually functioning in 1859 cheaper sources of copper were available from other areas of the world (globalisation is nothing new!) and in later years it became principally a tourist line – a wonderful entry point to the southwestern Lakes and, although popular, far less crowded than Windermere.

Personally I recall travelling on it as a child, catching the train from Askam, on the southern shore of the Duddon estuary with my grandfather and changing at Foxfield for the short trip up to Coniston.
That was in the early 50s. The line became seriously uneconomical (he clearly didn’t take me often enough!) and closed to passengers in 1958.

The Coniston Railway by Robert Western (ISBN: 978 0 85361 667 2) from Amazon.co.uk. (By the way, if Amazon says they have none look below the “out-of-stock” paragraph; there may be Amazon 3rd party dealers with copies; that was the case when I checked just now).

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