Contemporary accounts relating to the construction of the Settle-Carlisle Railway

Foreword: The following are contemporary accounts relating to the construction of the Settle-Carlisle Railway between 1869 and 1876. They have been extracted from “How they built the Settle-Carlisle railway” by W.R. Mitchell (published by Castleberg in 1989, reprinted in 2001) and they are reproduced here with the kind permission of Dr Mitchell. The quotations are presented as they were originally written, which means there are variations in the spelling of place names and in punctuation. The numbers at the beginning of each extract were not part of the original text: they have been added to aid cross-referencing. The initials following each extract were in the original text and they indicate the contemporary publication in which the text first appeared. The initials have the following meanings:

C.J. Chambers's Journal.
C.W.A.   Cumberland and Westmorland Advertiser.
L.G. Lancaster Guardian.
M.R. F.S. Williams's "Midland Railway" 1877.
W.A. Wildman's Almanac (Settle).
W.G. Westmorland Gazette.

0.1: The first pioneer sent into this remarkable country on behalf of the Midland Company was a young engineer named Sharland. A Tasmanian by birth, he had been for some time professionally engaged on the Maryport and Carlisle Railway, and had become familiar with this entire district. Immediately on his appointment he started off to find the best route for the proposed line and in ten days walked the whole distance from Carlisle to Settle. M.R. (1876)

0.2: The line is now being constructed in Sectional Contracts, under the superindendence of John H. Crossley, Esq., as Engineer-in-Chief of the Midland Railway Co; John Thomson, Consulting Resident Engineer.

  • Contract No 1 — Resident Engineers, R.E. Wilson and Edgar O. Ferguson; Contractor, John Ash well; Contractor's Agents, James Hope, W.H.Ashwell. (The Contract No. 1 is now being carried on by the Midland Co., A. Terry being the agent assisted by W.H. Ashwell).
     
  • Contract No. 2 — John S. Storey, Resident Engineer; Assistant Engineer, Frank Lynde; Contractors, Benton and Woodiwiss; Contractors' Agent, James Hay.
     
  • Contract No. 3 — Resident Engineer, Jesse Drage; Contractor, Joseph Firbank; Contractor's Agent, J. Throstle.
     
  • Contract No. 4 — Resident Engineers, John Allis and Samuel Paine; Contractor, John Bayliss; Contractor's Agents, J. Lambert, E. Williams.
     
  • Contract No. 5 (Hawes branch) — Resident Engineer, Edward Newcome; Contractors, Benton and Woodiwiss; Contractor's Agent, James Hay. W.A. (1873)

From the Ribble to the Eden

0.3: All the engineering works have been completed in a most substantial manner and steel rails have been laid along the whole length from Settle to Carlisle. The line will accommodate a rich agricultural district in Westmorland and Cumberland but its main object is to afford a new and additional route for the traffic between England and Scotland. W.G. (1876)

0.4: The strata passed through on the whole Line is Limestone, Gritstone, Shale, Clay, Washing and Boulders, Red Sandstone, Sand and Marl. W.A. (1873)

0.5: Mentioning navvies to a man with soiled clothes, he quickly replied: "Do you call me a navvy?" Though the honest labour of the lowest scale of workers on the line is honourable, still as a miner he felt his honour was impeached by being classed with navvies. L.G. (1873)

0.6: A list of head and hand workers connected with railway making may be interesting to the curious. Directors, engineers-in-chief, resident engineers, contractors and sub-contractors, inspectors, clerks, cashiers, gangers, timekeepers, masons, brickmakers, masons' and brickmakers' labourers, carpenters, minders, platelayers, horsekeepers, carpenters, engine drivers, stokers, tippers, saddlers, mechanics, sawyers, quarrymen, cement burners, mortar grinders, engine tenters, and navvies. Lawyers and doctors have a share in the concern, but as one did not know which niche to give them, prudence directed a separate recognition. L.G. (1873)

0.7: How easily in railway construction could money be wasted or spent to misuse if the head direction were faulty; for one day on this line if every man did work that was of no use we reckon the amount of wages alone would equal about £1,200. This is calculating 6,000 men at four shillings per diem. W.A. (1874)

0.8: If the line had been simply a branch line, quicker curves and steeper gradients no doubt would have been adopted and a comparatively light line secured on the sidelong hills, twisting and twirling in and out to avoid cuttings and embankments; but the Settle to Carlisle is to be a trunk link on which the traffic will be of great dimensions and in this case flat curves and as good gradients as possible must be adopted. And when one thinks by the means of curves and inclines the number of routes that could be selected it shews a masterly mind to be able to conquer all the various obstacles and difficulties that retard the way. W.A. (1874)

0.9: From Settle Junction to the termination of the second contract there is not a cornfield on either side of the line. Near Smardale Viaduct is a field of turnips. L.G. (1875)

Contract No. 1: Settle Junction to Dent Head

1.1: The Railway commences by a junction with the present line, 1½ miles south of Settle Station, 425 feet above sea level, where there are temporary sidings in connection with the tramway for the receipt of materials from the main line destined for the works. W.A. (1873)

1.2: The junction of the new line with the Little North Western is at a point little short of two miles south of Settle, and at an elevation of 425 feet above sea level. The bridges between the junction and Settle are a skew girder bridge of 62 feet span, and an arched one of 39 feet span. They are of excellent material, are well finished, and to passers on the road they have a very neat appearance. No. 1 or Anley Cutting is a very long and deep excavation, through very hard grit, which proved very serviceable for bridges and other works of masonry. Many men were employed in dressing the batters with excellent soil, which gave the batters a garden-like apearance. L.G. (1873)

1.3: At Settle Junction, an exchange station is being built and the platform and necessary siding are nearly completed. The station will be approached from the Settle and Long Preston turnpike road, which has been slightly diverted and improved. A close paling is nearly erected to prevent the engines from being seen from the road, a nuisance which has for a long time made this road very dangerous. W.A. (1876)

1.4: At Settle we notice a large quantity of land enclosed, at present a busy scene of importance, occupied by temporary buildings, stables, sawing machine, mortar mill, etc. The mortar is composed of lime from Leicestershire known as "Hydraulic"; it is ground here by steam power, and carried in trucks to the various bridges. W.A. (1873)

1.5: A large quantity of earth has been removed on the west side of the line nearly opposite Ingfield, to fill up the embankments. The Settle station ground is being filled up gradually to nearly the level of the rails and will make a station yard of considerable area. W.A. (1874)

1.6: At Settle new station, several buildings have been constructed. The station house, the stationmaster's house, a large goods warehouse, a water tank for supplying the engines, and a weigh-house have all been erected by Mr. Israel Norton, of Bradford, under the superintendence of Mr. James Gray, his foreman. The Goods Warehouse will accommodate five trucks at once; platforms for unloading cattle, carriages and horses have also been built. Six cottages for signal-men, porters, etc., have been finished and are inhabited. All the buildings are of the gothic order of architecture, and built in stone from Shipley. . . The Water Tank holds 200 tons of water and is about 27ft above the level of the rails. The water gravitates into it from up the line, using the waste water in the cuttings. W.A. (1876)

1.7: Marsh Field viaduct, which crosses the road near the Friends Meeting House, Settle, is a neat structure of 23 feet in height, with four arches of 30 feet span. Not far from this, a more massive viaduct crosses the turnpike road near the church, a large portion of the viaduct standing in the beautiful grounds of Mrs. George Hartley. L.G. (1873)

1.8: The railway shortly passes Barrel Sykes, the residence of G.W. Perfect, Esq., where there has only been just sufficient room to get an easy curve without pulling down the house. The line crosses Langcliffe road south by a neat bridge, 25ft span, of the same material as the viaduct. A wooden hut nestles itself behind it from the biting east winds, and on the left of the line shortly after passing this road is a garden of some notoriety. It is a piece of severance caused by the railway that has been dug and planted with such success that many of the prizes at the local horticultural shows have been taken by its produce. W.A. (1874)

1.9: The line [near Langcliffe] enters a solid blue limestone cutting at the entrance of which a pretty light iron girder bridge is finished for the footpath leading from Langcliffe to Langcliffe Place and Mills: it is also spanned in two places by "fly-arches" which start from the solid rock and are about 42ft span. In this cutting are a few spar lodes charged slightly with copper, and we should think it looks a likely place for lead if a shaft was sunk to a greater depth. W.A. (1874)

1.10: At Willy Wood or the "Stainforth Sidings", as it is called on the signal box, all the necessary sidings are in for the accommodation of the Craven Lime Company and Mr. Thomas Murgatroyd, both of which firms are sending off large quantities of Lime and Limestone, and they keep a great many men employed. W.A. (1876)

1.11: Near Willy Wood, north of Langcliffe, the Craven Lime Company is erecting extensive limeworks on Hoffman's patent. The chimney, which is to be 204 feet in height, is more than half of its height, and as such a lofty brick structure needed a good foundation, it is built on chisled limestone six feet below the surface. Mr. George Dawson, of Leeds, is the contractor for the chimney, which will take about 200,000 bricks. L.G. (1873)

1.12: Further on at Sherwood Brow a pretty peep is had of the Ribble and two handsome bridges are nearly finished over the river. This part of the line is an ingenious piece of engineering, the peculiarity of the district involving crossing the river twice. The first bridge is built to an angle of 34 degrees, and the wing walls are of great length, to prevent the embankment falling into the river. W.A. (1873)

1.13: A mile beyond Stainforth we for the first time pass over the wide rocky bed of the Ribble by a three-arched bridge. Here the engineers had great difficulty in selecting the best route to be taken. Should they cross and re-cross the river, or by two very heavy cuttings, and perhaps tunnels, to take the line further to the east. The bridge is built at an angle of 34 degrees, and the long wing walls that sustain the embankment are of ingenious construction, though they were not liked by the builders on account of the number of "quoins" or corners they required. M.R. (1876)

1.14: Elworth (Helwith) Bridge is a fine new structure seven yards wide, and is considerably higher than the old narrow bridge which is not yet taken down. Near this bridge, on the south side of the stream, a lucky workman just commencing business for himself, built a small sawmill for flags on the land through which the railway would run, but as he, in the multiplicity of business, had been overlooked, report says that he secured £700 as compensation. L.G. (1873)

1.15: Helwith or Elworth Bridge is to be entirely rebuilt on a fresh site. The road has to be raised to enable the railway to pass underneath it, and involves a viaduct of five arches. The site of an ancient tarn has evidently been crossed by the line near here, as we are told the foundations of some of the bridges are twelve feet below the surface through silt and washings. The locomotive from Settle now runs as far as Row End for Horton. W.A. (1873)

1.16: From Selside to Dent Head about 1,050 men are employed. Mr. Crossley, of Derby, is the engineer-in-chief. Mr. Wilson, of Settle, is resident engineer for No. 1 division of No. 1 contract; Mr E.O. Ferguson, resident engineer for No. 2 division of contract No. 1. Mr. A. Terry is chief agent for the company who now carry on the works of No, 1 contract, Mr. John Ashwell having given up his contract. Mr. W.H. Ashwell is agent or manager of the northern end of this contract, under Mr. Terry. L.G. (1873)

1.17: At half a mile south of Selside the "pot hole" has been filled up and adds largely to the size of the field. The filling in this hole prevented all possibility of the embankment slipping. A tip waggon lies buried at the bottom as it accidentally slipped over, and it would have been more expense pulling it up than what it was worth. W.A. (1876)

1.18: At the Ashes (between Selside and Ribblehead] the level crossing has been abolished and a bridge built over the railway and approach made from it. This is a great improvement as the level crossing, if made, would have been a very objectionable one. The Railway crossed the road at a considerable angle and would have been in a district where a large quantity of cattle are driven to and fro, near the line. W.A. (1876)

1.19: "I have known the men," remarked Mr. Crossley to us the other day, "blast the boulder-clay like rock and within a few hours have to ladle out the same stuff from the same spot like soup in buckets. Or a man strikes a blow with his pick at what he thinks is clay, but there is a great boulder underneath almost as hard as iron, and the man's wrists, arms and body are so shaken by the shock that, disgusted, he flings down his tools, asks for his money, and is off. . . M.R. (1876)

1.20: One of the dwellings in this little wooden town is differently constructed from all the rest, as from its appearance, it must have served as a caravan. It was said that it was brought all the way from London, and that it was the first human dwelling fixed on Batty Green. LG. (1870)

1.21: After tea, Mr. Pollen entertained me with a historical account of Batty-wife-hole, from his first appearance in a van on its soil, exactly three years previous. Shortly afterwards, he said, "some chaps came down to make experimental borings, and they had to bide wi' us in the wan, for there were nowheres else to bide. All that winter there were ten of us living in that van, and a tight fit it were, surely. Of a night I used to have to stand by it for half an hour with a bull's-eye as a guide to the men homecoming through the waste. Sometimes one would stick, and his mates would have to dig him out; there were two chain o' knee-deep water four times a day for the fellows atween their meat and their work. C.J. (1872)

1.22: Making one's way to Batty Green, one could not but look with astonishment at the numerous huts which dot the moor, and are known as Batty Green, Sebastopol, Jericho, Jerusalem and Tunnel huts. At the first mentioned place there are a mission room, day and Sunday Schools, a public library, post office, and shops for the sale of a variety of merchandise, a new and neat looking hospital with a covered walk for convalescent patients. All is life and bustle at this moorland town of huts, potters' carts, traps and horses for hire, drapers' carts, milk carts, green grocers' carts, butchers' carts, bakers' carts, and brewers' drays in addition to which may be seen numerous pedestrian hawkers plying from hut to hut their different trades. The company's offices, yard, stables, store rooms, shops etc. take up a large space of ground at Batty Green. LG. (1873)

1.23: Batty Green is a very wild and bleak spot; although many of the men have seen rough and foreign countries, railway making there, still they all agree that they were never in such a wild place before. The wind up the Ingleton valley is of a most piercing nature and on many days the bricklayers on the viaduct have been unable to work from fear of being blown off. W.A. (1874)

1.24: The railway crosses the turnpike road to Ingleton [at Batty Green] by a handsome arch bridge, on the "skew", span 39 ft., in very massive masonry of blue limestone. We notice blocks of stone eight feet in length. One hundred yards from this bridge, towards the tunnel, an embankment is being tipped, which will contain 280,000 cubic yards of earth when finished. There still remains a large proportion of this to be done, although as much as 800 cubic yards can be "tipped" per day. W.A. (1873)

1.25: The greatest quantity of men employed on Contract No. 1 is about 2,300 and about 130 horses. W.A. (1873)

1.26: After taking some refreshment at Ingleton . . .the journey to Batty Green had to be performed on foot. Carts laden with coal and railway material were numerous, but there were no public conveyances for passengers... The little chapel in the dale, with its much improved appearance, its enlarged burial ground, and the snug parsonage adjoining were a fine relief in the centre of rocks and mountains. L.G. (1871)

1.27: The population at Batty Green at the present date is from 250 to 300. It is here where all the operatives at Dent Head, Sebastopol, Batty Wife Hole and Selside are paid. It is said that last Saturday night their wages amounted to about £1,500. This was exclusive of "sub" money and the large sums paid to tradesmen and farmers and others who cart materials to the works. The number of men employed on the works between Batty Wife Hole and Dent Head is about 700. Upwards of 100 horses are also employed in this division of the contract. L.G. (1870)

1.28: A tramway is being laid between Batty Wife Hole and the south end of the tunnel, which is at the distance of two and a half miles. This iron road, which will be a great saving of horse flesh, is within a few hundred yards of being completed. An engine of twelve-horse power is in daily use on this tramway. L.G. (1870)

1.29: The brick-making establishment (at Batty Green) is under the management of Mr. Rixon. The brick works cover a large space of moorland and consist of extensive drying sheds, ovens, a large patent brick-making machine by Porter and Co., of Carlisle, a crushing machine, and a traveller seventy yards long to deliver the bricks in the shed above the ovens where they are dried by the waste heat. Porter's machine when in full work will make about 20,000 bricks a day. At present, as only half of it is at work, it makes from 11,000 to 12,000 a day. There are ten ovens with two fire holes to each oven. An oven holds from fourteen to fifteen thousand bricks, and it takes about a week to burn them. The quantity of fuel consumed at these works is only half the quantity used at an ordinary brick kiln.

The bed of clay which lies under a thin strata of peat is a mud deposit and much of it on account of its sandy nature is thrown aside. A crushing machine is employed to grind shale which, being intermixed with the clay used at the works, yields bricks of such a superior quality that when thrown out of the ovens they ring like pots. From 26 to 28 persons are employed at the works. Two girls were busy carrying bricks from the never-ceasing traveller. The large quantities of bricks made at these works are used for lining and arching the tunnel. L.G. (1871)

1.30: Batty Moss Viaduct, is under the superintendence of Mr. Hurst. This immense structure, when finished, will consist of twenty-four arches, each arch of 45ft span and 18ft rise. The piers, which are being built of black marble dug out of a quarry on Mr. Farrer's estate, will terminate at springing with a thickness of 6ft, the batter on the face being 1 inch in 32. The north abutment and the piers for the first six openings are already raised to heights varying from 10 to 25ft, The foundations for the next six piers are put in and built up to the level. The foundations are taken down to solid rock, which is mountain limestone. The lime used at the works is Barrow lime, brought from the neighbourhood of Leicester. The limestone of which the viaduct is built burns to a very good hydraulic lime.

The staging for a quarter of the length of the viaduct is to the height of within 20 feet of springing. A steam crane is employed to unload the stone, and two hand cranes and their travellers to turn the stone and for setting it. The whole of the stone is brought from two quarries under Whernside, at the distance of one and a quarter miles, by a locomotive. The stone requires much labour to dress it, . . A ten-horse power engine is constantly employed for mixing mortar. About sixty masons and labourers are employed on this work; the number of workmen varies much, for though good wages are paid some of them generally leave after every pay day; sometimes as many as eight fresh hands are set on the works in a day. According to the opinion of the foreman it will be two years at the present rate of progress before the viaduct will be finished.

The work hitherto has been attended with many impeding difficulties —such as the hardness of the stone, the flooding of the quarries by a mountain stream, and the wetness of the moor. The black marble, which is capable of a fine polish, is dug out in blocks... it is in mind to use additional mechanical forces so that double the number of workmen may be employed. A steam pump will be used at the quarry, and two steam travelling cranes on the gantry.

As the foundations of the piers and abutments are laid so deep, a cursory observer will not see the full extent of the progress made. Mr. Ashwell, the contractor, has done much to make the workmen comfortable. On the gantry, the men have boxes to shelter them from the weather and on the ground there are sheds for the comfort of the masons. The wages on these works average from 1 s. to 1 s. 6d. per day higher than the wages in Lancashire and Yorkshire: many of the masons get 6s. 6d. per day. L.G. (1871)

1.31: The masons of Batty Moss Viaduct, Dent Head Viaduct and some other portions of the Settle and Carlisle. . . have been on strike for more than a week. For 9 hours per day theyhad 6s. 3d. and as the contractors required them during the summer months to work 10 hours per day, with the addition of 8d per extra hour, they have struck work. It is not reported whether there is any prospect of a speedy agreement between the men and their employers. For the sake of the completion of the new line, the sooner the dispute shall come to the end the better. L.G. (1872)

1.32: It [Batty Moss Viaduct) will contain 30,000 cubic yards of masonry, besides 3,000 cubic yards of concrete, six feet of which is under nearly all the piers. The foundations were sunk 25ft in depth through peat, clay and washings before the solid rock could be met with, on which the viaduct stands ... At the foot of the viaduct is a network of tramways, passing round the sharpest of curves, and up inclines as steep as 1 in 18, used for bringing stones, mortar, and other materials to the viaduct. There are also mortar mills, brick-making machines, drying sheds and kilns. . .We are shown the quarries for the Viaduct, which are formed by damming and altering the course of the river. The beds of rock are then taken out. Peat in this district seems to abound. Some we saw was 9 feet deep, but it is not used at all, coal being carted instead, as much as 600 tons a month being used on Contract No. 1. W.A. (1873)

1.33: Batty Moss viaduct, of 24 arches, will be perhaps the finest piece of masonry on the new line. The first stone of this massive structure was laid by Mr. William Ashwell, October 12th, 1870. There are 23 piers and two abutments. The piers which stand 45ft apart are 13ft wide at the base and 6ft at the top. Eleven of the piers are finished. The centres are in for six arches and the turning of them in brick was begun on the 9th inst. Twelve piers are nearly at the top and the rest are at plinth level, 43ft below springing. Every sixth pier is as wide again as the others, so that were an accident to take place all the arches could not fall at once.

The viaduct is 1,328ft in length and about 100ft to the level of the viaduct. The blocks of black limestone, some of which contain two cubic yards and weigh from four to five tons, are dug from a quarry in Little Dale beck. It is said this structure will, when finished, contain 30,000 cubic yards of masonry and 3,000 cubic yards of concrete. About 100 men are employed on this viaduct and as the weather has been for some time remarkably fine, the works under the able management of Mr. Charles and Mr. Walter Hirst have made great progress. The viaduct when completed will be the admiration of all lovers of imposing and massive masonry, and no doubt generations unborn will look upon it with wonder, and think how clever were their forefathers to rear such a structure. L.G. (1873)

1.34: The arches [of Batty Moss Viaduct] are covered with concrete and then asphalt is laid over to ensure the bricks from getting saturated with water. W.A. (1875)

1.35: When leaving the viaduct, my guide hailed an engine driver who was about to return with a train of empty wagons to one of the cuttings in the direction of the tunnel; after mounting the engine and taking our position, so as to support ourselves by the brass rail on its side, the snorting steed started off at a tolerably quick speed.

No one can imagine the queer sensation which comes over one from the rolling and pitching motion of the locomotive caused by the unevenness and crookedness of the tramway excepting a novice in such a mode of transit. Up and down, heaving on one side and anon on the other, slackening its speed at curves and then accelerating it when they were past, was enough to make a nervous person giddy and to relax his hold. It was a relief when the locomotive had accomplished its journey to alight safe and sound on terra firma. L.G. (1871)

1.36: Engines are being fixed upon the southern and northern summits of Bleamoor, which is 1,753ft high. The heavy material is drawn up a steep tramway on the northern side of the moor by means of three "crabs" placed at different distances on the route, and platelayers' trollies. A similar tramway will shortly be laid on the south side of the moor when crabs will be superseded by the engines now in course of erection. Donkeys are employed on the south side for carrying coals and other light materials in sacks. The water and debris are now drawn from the shafts by horses, but shortly engines will be employed for that purpose at all the shafts except No. 4, which is on the north side of the moor. L.G. (1870)

1.37: The cuttings on this (South) side of Blea Moor Tunnel are well opened up, the gullets being well driven in advance. About 150,000 cubic yards have been taken out. Two locomotives are employed in conveying the excavated earth to the bank and about 150 men are employed at these cuttings. The number of men fluctuates very much. At present there is ample room for double the number. Most of the work on this part of the line is let to Batty Moss gangs and the men divide their earnings equally among themselves, or in proportion to the hours they work. The men, on account of this co-operation, earn good wages and they might do well but for drink. Drink meets them at every step and they appear to be powerless to resist the British workman's greatest foe. L.G. (1871)

1.38: At the south end of Blea Moor Tunnel all appeared to be life and activity. The chatter of machinery, the noise of children and men indicated that no ordinary work was going on. As we reached the south end of the tunnel a train of trollies was about to ascend the steep tramway to the summit of Blea Moor. This mountain line is worked by a wire rope and a fixed engine on the hill. Most of the trollies were laden with coal, which were crowned with bags of flour and other domestic commodities. Before an engine was erected, coals were carried up the mountain by donkeys, and heavy railway material was drawn up by "crabs". L.G. (1871)

1.39: Shaft A, sunk at the proposed entrance to the south end of (Blea Moor) tunnel, is 35 yards deep. About 100 yards have been driven or tunnelled northwards. The lining of the arch with brickwork varies from 1ft 6 inch to 2ft 3 inch in thickness completed. At this shaft, a 12-inch winding engine is employed, which also works an 8 inch pump and a Blow George to supply the men below with air.

No. 1 shaft is a permanent shaft which has been sunk to the foundation level. About 40 yards from this shaft have been tunnelled each way, and the arching of the top has been completed as at A shaft. A 12 inch winding engine is used to draw the debris from the tunnel. A 16 inch engine is employed to pump the water and blow air to the men at the bottom.

No. 2 shaft is also a permanent shaft and it has been sunk to foundation level, a depth of 127 yards, and lined throughout with brickwork so that operations will soon be in full force for taking out the tunnel and driving headings. A 16-inch winding-engine is used to draw up the debris from the tunnel and a 20 inch engine is fixed for working the pump, which is a 10 inch one, the same as No. 1. The water met with varies from 80 to 100 gallons per minute. Engine power is laid down to raise 450 to 500 gallons per minute.

The heading from the north on Dent Head end has been driven a distance of 750 lineal yards, or nearly half a mile, into the hill and is fast approaching the summit. It has been driven under No. 3 shaft, which has been standing for some time.

At this end, the air is supplied to the workmen at the face of the heading by a simple and effectual contrivance, viz, a long column of water in a wrought-iron pipe, which has its outlet through a rose fixed on the tip. The column of water has a pressure of 120lb per square inch. Consequently, the rush of water drives the air up a pipe 11 inch by 9 inch to the face of the heading. The force of the air is so strong it will blow a candle out two or three yards from the end of the pipe.

The whole of the tunnel, with very little exception, is hard rock, such as limestone and grit. The average speed of driving at a face is about four yards per week. Though there are about 160 miners at work in the tunnel, still there is sufficient room for twice that number. L.G. (1871)

1.40: For about 350 yards the Tunnel is on a curve; it is then straight for the rest of the distance. At No. A Shaft, the level of the railway is 1,151ft above the sea, the incline for 11½ miles being nearly 1 in 100 for the whole distance.

There are seven stationary engines on the Tunnel, two for winding materials up the incline planes from each end, the rest for pumping and winding the excavations up and for lowering bricks and mortar down the shafts. The miners also use this means to get to and from the Tunnel. At the top of the Tunnel there is a self-acting incline. The loaded trucks coming down draw the empty ones up to a millstone grit quarry which is used for obtaining stone for concrete and sand. The absence of the latter material has greatly increased the expense of mortar. W.A. (1873)

1.41: The Tunnel is in a great state of forwardness and in most places the arches are turned. Some of the side walls are of brick, while in other places the arches are turned on the solid rock. The tunnel for the greater proportion of its area is driven in solid rock, and the difficulties met with in some part of the operation arise from spontaneous combustion of the rock after the advanced headings have been driven. As this is a source of much danger to the workmen, great care is needed while carrying on mining and other operations. The works on many occasions have thus been retarted, and even now, though some of the faces are in the hardest rock, it is necessary to use timber to protect the workmen.

There are about 300 miners, bricklayers and labourers employed in the tunnel and the works are being pushed on with considerable force. The entrance to the south end of the tunnel is at present barred by a stout piece of cutting, which it is hoped will be taken out by August, when there will be a communication from one end of the tunnel to the other without descending any of the shafts. The strata met with in the tunnel is black limestone and gritstone, with a few beds of shale.

Only one fatal accident has happened in the tunnel, and that was to a horse-driver who unfortunately slipped and fell in front of a loaded wagon. The horses used in the tunnel are sleek in their skin and in fine condition. As a rule, the horse-drivers on the whole line pride themselves on their horses, and decorate their heads with showy ribbons.

In the tunnel there are two bricklayers for each side, who have each one labourer, and there are two mortar carriers for the whole of the bricklayers. These bricklayers with their servers will lay about 35,000 bricks in three days. About 70,000 bricks are used in the tunnel weekly. Ten locomotives and 18 portable and stationary engines are in constant use on No 1 Contract and about 1,800 men are employed.

No person can walk in the tunnel for an hour or more and listen to the thundering reports and reverberations of blasting, see the miners wielding with terrible force their sledgehammers when drilling the hard rock, and breathe the thick smoke of the exploded dynamite, without feeling sympathy for those employed in such mining operations, and of seeing what a privilege it is to travel by rail at the rate of a penny per mile.

In Little Dale, at a short distance from the south entrance to the tunnel, there had been a slip of earth, containing 20,000 cubic yards, which is nearly cleared out. . .

The distance between Settle Junction and where the line crosses the Ingleton road at Batty Green is 12¾ miles within 110 yards, and from there to the south end of the tunnel is nearly two miles. Nearly nine miles of permanent way, single line, between Settle Junction and Ingleton road, is laid, and half a mile between there and the south face of the tunnel. Wagons with coal and other material now run from Settle Junction to the top of Bleamoor. L.G. (1873)

1.42: The temperature of the Headings before they were joined was 80 degrees; when the passage was through, the thermometer read 57, showing a difference of 23 degrees. W.A. (1873)

1.43: The Headings have met correctly, within 3 inches we are told, a distance of 924 yards having been driven from the two ends. The strata is Limestone, Gritstone, Gritstone beds, and shale. In some parts the tunnel requires no lining; in others the roof only is lined and in places it is lined throughout. The lining is of brickwork and varies in thickness from 1 ft 6 inches to 3 ft. Black damp has been met with in the Heading, and also an explosive stone. It is supposed that there is compressed air in the hill which forces the stone outwards when partly excavated. W.A. (1873)

1.44: In the Tunnel, the work never stops from Sunday night at ten, until Saturday night at the same time; relays of men relieving one another at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. It is formed by hand drilling, filling the holes with gun-cotton or gunpowder, and then igniting by means of a time fuse. The debris is then cleared away, either up the shafts in "skeps" or in waggons at the open end; the brick lining follows as soon as possible. The light is obtained by means of tallow candles, and has a pretty effect. About 16 yards of tunnel are done in a week, although here and there we see water dripping and the engines pumping. W.A. (1873)

1.45: Before we taken leave of the [Blea Moor] Tunnel we will explain to our readers the new explosive material called "Dynamite", which is a safer and much stronger agent than gunpowder or guncotton. Dynamite looks very much like potted lobster; it will not explode, we are told, unless heated to 420 degrees Fahrenheit, if a match is placed against it, it burns like fat or grease. The extra heat required to make it explode is obtained by a cap of "Fulminating Powder".

Dynamite can be carried about, and is carried about, to bring it to the required temperature, if frozen, in one's trousers pocket, as it will not explode if exceedingly cold. Railway companies in England will not carry it, and all that is brought on to this [Settle-Carlisle] Railway has to be carted from either Carlisle or Newcastle. Its cost is about £200 a ton, or more than five times that of gunpowder. W.A. (1874)

1.46: In Blea Moor tunnel [entered from the north] a few men were working. When about halfway through, a fog signal made the driver of the light engine greatly diminish his speed. Shortly we came to a number of workmen whose dimly burning candles only made the deep excavation look all the more gloomy. The sounds of the shrill whistle of the engine were so loud and discordant that one was glad to weaken the sensation by putting one's fingers in the ears. L.G. (1875)

1.47: The double line has been laid from the Junction to Batty Green, and a goods engine makes regular journeys, with materials, to the Tunnel about four times a day. W.A. (1875)

1.48: At Blea Moor there are sidings for shunting in goods trains to allow quicker trains to follow, also two cottages for the use of signalmen and platelayers, a water tank for supplying the engines and a signal box. At this point the line is 680ft higher than at the junction and is close against Little Dale beck which runs to Weather-cote and thence to Ingleton, Little Dale Beck has been lowered about 12 feet to enable it to be bridged across, and to keep the water from going into the cuttings. The line crosses under Force Gill, a tributary of Little Dale beck, by means of a short tunnel. W.A. (1876)

1.49: After leaving Blea Moor tunnel at the north end, the Dent Valley opens to view and is crossed by a pretty Viaduct of 10 arches, the same span as the Batty Moss Viaduct, with one thick pier in the centre. The height is 100 feet above Fell End Gill. This Viaduct, the road bridge, with the farmhouse at its foot, and the road winding down by the side of the hill, form altogether a most picturesque scene. There are two large quarries on this side of the hill, for supplying this Viaduct with stone. W.A. (1873)


Contemporary accounts covering Contracts 2, 3, 4 and 5 will be uploaded at a later date.

Last updated by Mark Harvey on 14/02/2017
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