Furness Railway

By Greg Fitchett, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

The Furness Railway Company, which operated between 1844 and 1923, was an independent railway, which operated in the Furness area of north west England. Originally the line laid was for mineral traffic – i.e. slate and iron ore, this was from Kirkby in Furness to Dalton in Furness. However, this line was later extended to Rampside. On 11 August 1846 a further line was opened from Dalton To Barrow. This helped to develop Barrow’s iron and steel works and shipbuilding industries. In December 1846 these were opened to passenger traffic and played a major role in the development of Barrow in Furness, and in the development of the Lake District Tourist industry.

In April 1854 further extensions were made to Ulverston. However, in 1865 the Whitehaven and Furness Junction Railway was taken over thereby extending the Furness Railway to Whitehaven, Carnforth – this was where the Furness Railway linked with the London and North Western Railway and on to Lancaster, Coniston and Lakeside. On 27 August 1857 the line was linked to Lancaster by the Ulverston and Lancaster Railway, which subsequently was bought out by the Furness Railway in 1862. In 1867 the Midland Railway was connected to the Furness Railway by the Furness and Midland Joint Railway. The Hincaster Branch from Arnside to the Lancaster and Carlisle Railway was also opened in 1867.

The Government’s Railway Act of 1921 signalled the end of the interlinking independent railway companies. At midnight on 31st December 1922 the Furness Railway Company was absorbed into the London Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS). The LMS operated the network, although they did stop services in 1936 to Roa Island, until the Nationalisation of the railways in 1948. Unfortunately, British Railways closed the Coniston branch in 1958 to passengers and in 1962 to goods. In 1965 Lakeside branch lost it’s passenger service, however, part of the line is still open as the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Steam Railway, this is now the last surviving Furness Railway branch line. However, the Furness Railway main line, which is from Carnforth, past Grange over Sands, to Ulverston and through Barrow to Millom and up the coast past Sellafield to Whitehaven has remained as part of the national network.

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