Canal Yard

Location type


Name and dates

Canal Yard (1854-1969)

Opened on the Carlisle and Port Carlisle Railway and Dock.
Opened on the Newcastle and Carlisle Railway.


Originally the canal basin in Carlisle, this became the main goods yard of the North British Railway in Carlisle and an interchange point with the North Eastern Railway.

Smith and Anderson describe the yard wonderfully

The sidings were of various lengths and had strange names like ^Young Kytle^ and ^Back and Front Modder^. Unexpected connections added to the general confusion.

The origins of this yard date from the Carlisle Canal which opened in 1823 from a basin at Cald Coats in Carlisle to Fisher^s Cross, promptly renamed Port Carlisle. The canal avoided the need to dredge the River Eden and several miles of the Solway Firth. The canal was across the River Eden to the west of Carlisle itself.

The first railway to Carlisle, the Newcastle and Carlisle Railway, opened an extension to the canal basin in 1837. Initially this assisted the canal but by the late 1840s (as trunk lines opened) the canal was in financial trouble.

The canal closed 1853, allowing the Carlisle and Port Carlisle Railway to be opened along a similar and often overlapping route in 1854. Trains ran to Carlisle Canal [Station], in the south of the former basin site.

The yard was constructed between the later Canal Junction to the north and Carlisle Canal [Station] to the south where the new and old lines met. Initially the canal^s warehouses were reused.

The general layout of the yard was a line up the centre, loops to the west, with Canal Goods [Carlisle] to the east. There were reversing spurs on either side of the Silloth route and on the east side of the Waverley Route.

The harbour at Port Carlisle suffered from silting and the line was extended to Silloth in 1856. In 1859 the North British Railway received its Act for the Border Union Railway (North British Railway) using the Silloth line to approach Carlisle, minimising the use of the Caledonian Railway over which running powers were exercised. Its 1860 link from Port Carlisle Branch Junction to Canal Junction was used to approach Carlisle Citadel.

Canal Goods [Carlisle] was accessed from the north, serving cattle stages, bonded warehousing and a coal depot.

The southern part of the Waverley Route opened in 1861 to Scotch Dyke and throughout in 1862. Canal Yard was now very much a cross Border exchange point with the North Eastern Railway and goods yard in Carlisle for the North British Railway. Carlisle Canal [Station] closed in 1864 with all passenger trains transferred to Carlisle Citadel.

The North British were not just looking for an approach to Carlisle but were also interested in the Silloth line as an outlet to the Irish Sea. The company were to operate vessels, including the first PS Waverley [I] (launched 1864, the name not insignificant and built for the Dublin run), second PS Waverley [II] (launched 1865 to replace the rather poor first) and PS Carham (launched 1864, the name being Richard Hodgson^s home and built for the Dumfries run), from the port. Canal yard allowed traffic to be routed from the Waverley Route onto the Silloth line as there was no north to west curve.

Nearby Carlisle Canal Shed provided motive power for the NB lines.

Carr^s Biscuit Factory was to the east, served by sidings. (Carr^s also had a flour mill at Silloth.)

Carlisle Canal Shed closed in 1963. The Silloth branch closed to passengers in 1964, cut back to goods to Burgh-by-Sands with final closure in 1966.

The Waverley Route shut in 1969 and lines radiating out of Canal Junction and Canal Yard closed.


Sidings yard canal basin

External links

NLS Collection OS map of 1892-1914
NLS Collection OS map of 1944-67


09/03/1837Newcastle and Carlisle Railway
Branch to the canal basin of the Carlisle and Port Carlisle Canal in Carlisle opened. The terminus later became Canal Yard and was an interchange point with the North British Railway who acquired the Carlisle and Port Carlisle Railway and Dock Company.
  /  /1882Carlisle and Port Carlisle Railway and Dock Carlisle and Silloth Bay Railway and Dock
Caledonian Railway granted running powers between Abbeyholme Junction and Canal Yard (where connection was made with the Newcastle and Carlisle Railway) over the North British Railway controlled lines.


A History of North Eastern Railway Architecture: A Mature Art v. 2

A History of North Eastern Railway Architecture: Pioneers v. 1

A History of the Newcastle and Carlisle Railway, 1824 - 1870: The First Line Across Britain

A Regional History of the Railways of Great Britain: The North-east v. 4 (A regional history of the railways of Great Britain)

An Illustrated History of Carlisle's Railways

An Illustrated History of Carlisle's Railways

Hexham to Carlisle: Including the Alston and the Brampton Branches (Eastern Main Lines)

Newcastle (Rail Centres)

Newcastle to Hexham: Including the Allendale Branch (Eastern Main Lines)

North Eastern Railway: Historical Maps

The Border Counties Railway Steam Memories 1950's-1960's: Newcastle to Reedsmouth No. 68, pt. 1