1864 to 1972?
The CK&PR was built as a mineral line between 1862 and 1864 to link Workington in the west to Durham in the east, connecting in via Penrith to the direct railway route through the Pennines over Stainmore from the Darlington area.
Seeing that the line from Workington to Cockermouth was built by a separate company the C&WR, from Cockermouth in the west to Penrith at its eastern end the CK&P itself was 31 miles long. Its lowest point was reached on the shores of Bassenthwaite Lake whilst its highest was attained at Troutbeck Summit, some 889 feet above sea level.
The line opened to goods traffic on October 26th, 1864 , and to passengers on January 5th, 1865. At this time the old C&WR station became the goods depot, the two stations being a mile apart
The CK&P as such was not a operating railway. From the outset the goods services were worked by the Stockton & Darlington Railway, which initially built the route over Stainmore and which was later absorbed by the North Eastern Railway, whilst the passenger services were run by the L&NWR. This arrangement continued right up to the grouping of 1923.
© copyright of the Furness Railway Trust
From a 1955 BR poster showing a one of the newly introduced Diesel trains (DMU) on the shore of Bassenthwaie Lake.
The process of closing the line started in the 1950s. At the time the accountants estimated that it was losing £50.000 per year. BR therefore announced that it intended to close the whole line from Penrith to Workington.
Photo By: Ian Thompson 1967
Before, however, such a step was taken, BR looked at possible measures of making economies on the line and as one consequence of this, on January 3rd, 1955, Derby Lightweight diesel multiple-units were introduced to work the passenger services, this immediately leading to increases in profits.
Many of the goods services were still being hauled by the old Victorian ex-LN&WR Webb "cauliflower" locomotives, assisted in this by the relatively light-weight and classic BR locomotives of Ivatt's design. Statistics can be used to provide useful information, but can also be swapped around to provide misleading facts. As the way BR calculated how much a line was making or losing followed this principle, the powers-that-be announced that, despite the economies in working the line, it was still losing. Thus it was that in 1963 the Beeching Report recommended that the line should be swept away.
On July 1st, 1964, all goods services were therefore withdrawn, whilst one year later BR announced that it intended to close the whole line to all services in April 1966. This sparked off a storm of protest from local people to keep the line open. Counter-productive to this however, at the same time the Ministry of Transport also had its eye on the line for an improvement scheme for the main A66 road. But after the inhabitants of Keswick had fought tooth and nail to keep the Railway open, higher authorities finally succeeded in their goals.
1st June 1964
On April 18th, 1966, all passenger services west of Keswick Station were withdrawn, this just leaving an 18-mile long branch from Penrith to Keswick itself. But as it was purported that the line was still losing money, even more measures to effect economies were introduced. All second tracks were removed and signaling dismantled, so that as of July 1st, 1968, all remaining stations became unstaffed halts and the line could then be worked by only one DMU.
Despite now running in the most basic form possible, BR still maintained that it was uneconomical to retain the branch, so in November 1971 it was announced that complete and final withdrawal of all passenger services would take place as of Monday, The March 6th, 1972. So it was that on the very wintry Saturday, The March 4th, 1972, the last passenger train traversed the CK&P.
The Flusco Lime works siding kept the line open for a time after the last passenger train hard ran from Keswick to Penrith. This siding worked until it was closed on the 19th, June 1972.
As definite measures are being perused to re-instate the line, this may possibly be not the end of the CK&P's story, but indeed simply just a pause.
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Last Update 05/01/09