Northern Lines - Lancaster to Oxenholme Including the former LNWR branches to Morecambe and Windermere

Roy Davies

Review by Malcolm Chattwood

Oxenholme: Britannia 70016 'Ariel' runs briskly into Oxenholme with the 11.55 Saturdays only service from Euston to Carlisle and Windermere on 1st July 1967. The train was split into two sections at Oxenholme, with the rear portion being taken to Windermere by Black 5 45445.
Robin McGregor 01/07/1967

The latest volume in the Northern Lines series continues northwards on the West Coast Main Line from Lancaster and away from the Lancashire plain towards the northern fells although the sub-title introduces two surviving branches to Morecambe and Windermere. The short surviving branch from Morecambe to Heysham is not covered by this book. Due to its origins in the Midland Railway network it featured in an earlier Middleton Press volume covering the Wennington to Morecambe and Heysham

Lancaster: 'Semi-substitution'. I wondered why buses were running from Bentham to Wennington, Lancaster and Carnforth when the trains were operating but it transpired that the footbridge at Wennington was defective precluding access to the Lancaster platform. The buses connected with the westbound trains at Bentham to take passengers to Wennington and then collect there for Lancaster and Carnforth. The Rail Replacement service is seen by the Platform 3 entrance at Lancaster on 26th January 2023. Trains were calling normally at Wennington in the opposite direction. The rear entrance to the new Tite and Locke station pub is in the short stay car park. Mark Bartlett 27/01/2023

The first chapter of the book describes the geographical setting of the area and its brief historical development from the predecessors of the LNWR through to the present day and usefully includes a copy of the 1947 RCH map and gradient profiles for the main line and Windermere branch. For those not familiar with the extent of the network of lines then this map is worthy of study in relation to the inevitable and regrettable contraction which took place presumably to avoid duplication of routes particularly between Lancaster and Morecambe.

The index doesn't refer to page numbers but the number of the photograph at the start of a particular major section. Each station is described by an attractive mix of historic large scale Ordnance Survey maps and photographs which reflect both historic and contemporary use. There are a number of gems showing unusual motive power, workings or events including the short-lived gas turbine powered 4-6-0 GT3 and the APT. An extract from the Quail Trackmap provides a useful visual description of the rather unusual track layout which currently exists between Bare Lane Junction and Morecambe/Heysham. All the photographs are accompanied by informative captions and in some cases a photographer has been able to provide personal anecdotes which add even further interest. Many of the photographs include detail of activities which are not directly related to the railway subject but are nevertheless part of the railway scene of the time.

Bare Lane: The purpose built Network Rail Track Assessment Sprinter visited the Morecambe and Heysham branches on 28th May 2015 during a circuit of the North West. That same day it also travelled to Windermere, Hellifield, Blackburn and the Preston Dock branch. 950001 is seen at Bare Lane shortly before returning to Carnforth at the end of the day's operations. Mark Bartlett 28/05/2015

Although the structure of the book highlights each individual station within the area there is also a section on what was Carnforth Motive Power Depot and which continues to be in use as the base of West Coast Railways after having also had a short life as Steamtown Railway Museum. The section includes photographs from all three eras although one taken in 2019 with 60009 and 46233 on shed could at first glance could easily have been pre-1968 such is the atmosphere captured by the photographer.

Carnforth: 67005 Queen's Messenger heads the Royal Train northwards through Carnforth on 9 April 2014 conveying HRH The Prince of Wales to Oxenholme on a visit to Cumbria. Mark Bartlett 09/04/2014

Sprinkled throughout the book are facsimile images of timetables, old tickets and advertisements. The temptation to skip over these should be resisted as they certainly add further interest to an already excellent book.