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

There are a number of contemporary (or near contemporary) sources relating to the construction of the Settle-Carlisle Railway between 1869 and 1876 and some of these can be accessed via the internet. This webpage summarises and provide links to the online material identified / uploaded so far.

Copyright expired books

A number of 'out of copyright' books have been digitised and made available for download via the internet. These include:

Williams, Frederick Smeeton
"The Midland railway: its rise and progress. A narrative of modern enterprise"
Published by Strahan & Co London in 1876
726 pages (including covers)
Link: http://www.archive.org/details/midlandrailwayit00will
The pdf version is 42Mb, so the download may take a while, even if using a fast broadband connection. Extracts from this fascinating source are gradually being transcribed, uploaded and appended to the SCRCA Project Database - see below.

Stretton, Clement Edwin
"The history of the Midland railway"
Published by Methuen & co, London in 1901
This has a chapter on the Settle-Carlisle Line which starts on page 209.
Link: http://www.archive.org/details/historyofmidland00strerich

Thomson, J. Radford
"Guide to the district of Craven and the Settle and Carlisle Railway, with illustrations"
Published in London by Simpkin, Marshall, & Co.; and F. Warne & Co.;
and in Settle by H. Gore (1879)
The chapter on the Settle-Carlisle line is Ch 10 which starts on page 79.
Link: http://www.archive.org/details/guidetodistricto00thomiala

Primary source research made available online via the SCRCA Project

  • Summary data and a list of occupations from the 1871 Census returns for the "New Parish of Ingleton Fells".
     
  • Contemporary accounts from F.S. Williams (1876), op. cit. Extracts relevant to key sites and structures betwen Settle and Dent Head have already been uploaded. Additional extracts will be uploaded as and when time permits.
     
  • Contemporary accounts from the Lancaster Guardian:
     
    • 1865, October 7th: A report that the Midland Railway Company are surveying a "New Railway Route to the North", with a brief description of the proposed route.
       
    • 1866, May 19th: A report on the "Wharncliffe meeting" of shareholders, which sanctioned the bill to "construct railways from Settle To Hawes, Appleby, and Carlisle".
       
    • 1866, August 11th: A report that "The Settle to Carlisle Bill" had received royal assent.
       
    • 1870, June 4th: A report detailing how John O’Neil (a navvy from Ireland living in a hut near Winterscales) was threatened by a mob (led by a ganger named Frank Taylor) and how Mr. Ashwell successfully protected the Irishman by involving the police.
       
    • 1870, June 25th: A report outlining "The Importance Of Navvies" to the town of Ingleton (and its tradesmen) and outlining the importance of beer to the navvies.
       
    • 1870, July 16th: A report on a Coroner's Inquest into the death of Thomas Ball (aged 30), who drowned when the workings at Blea Moor Tunnel (near Dent Head) became flooded as a result of heavy rain during a thunderstorm.
       
    • 1870, July 23rd: A fascinating and informative description of the Ribblehead Railway Construction Camp (plus a long-winded and rather dubious explanation of the origin of the place name 'Batty Wife Hole').
       
    • 1870, September 3rd: A report on the death of Mrs. Powell as result of a tramway accident near the south portal of Blea Moor Tunnel, plus an account of her subsequent funeral at Chapel-le-Dale.
       
    • 1870, November 12th: A fascinating and informative (but occasionally long-winded) account of a visit to the railway works between Settle Junction and Horton. (The article actually covers the works as far as Batty Wife Hole, but the last section has not yet been transcribed.)
       
    • 1870, December 3rd: A brief record of an accident at Garsdale Head that resulted in the death of Joseph Jackson (a carpenter).
       
    • 1870, December 24th: A brief record of an accident near Smardale Gill in which a 56 year old quarryman named John ?Balesill? was decapitated on the South Durham Railway between Smardale and Newbiggen (the assumption being he was run over by an railway locomotive).
       
    • 1871, July 8th: A collection of brief reports relating to Batty Green entitled “The Small-Pox”, “Accidents To Horses”, “The Adventure Of A Settle Lady” (who visited the workings at Blea Moor), and “Battles Amongst The Navvies”.
       
    • 1871, August 26th: Two brief reports from Batty Green. The first is a fascinating 'story' (read it and make-up your own mind!) about the navvies' response to a thunderstorm in which the "electric fluid" (lightning) struck a navvy and his horse (both survived) and ten sheep (that were less fortunate). The second is a more straightforward report about the welcome reduction in the number smallpox cases.
       
    • 1871, September 30th: Three separate topics are covered in a single article. The first is a report on the findings of an inquest into the death of George McConnel, who was killed when he fell from a wagon on the Batty Green tramway and was crushed between the bufffers. The second is a report on the findings of an inquest into the death of David Davis, who was killed when a crane broke while lifting a three-ton block of stone at "the viaduct near Batty Green" (i.e. Ribblehead Viaduct). The third is a report on a social event for the children ("about sixty scholars") who attended the Batty Green day and Sunday schools and a follow-up event for the adults. The first part of this article provides valuable information about the special Saturday shoping trains that ran on the tramway between Blea Moor and Batty Green. The third part offers a fascinating insight into the moral values of the writer of the article and tells us that Mr. W. H. Ashwell and Mr. Vickers had "residences" on "the Settle Road". (The latter contradicts regularly expressed assumptions that the great and good all lived in the supposedly posh suburb of 'Belgravia'.)
       
    • Additional extracts from the Lancaster Guardian will be transcribed and uploaded as and when time permits.
       
  • In 1989, the well-known author W.R. Mitchell published a book entitled “How they built the Settle-Carlisle railway” (published by Castleberg in 1989, reprinted in 2001). The text of this book consists almost entirely of contemporary accounts relating to the construction of the Settle-Carlisle Railway between 1869 and 1878. These accounts provide a wealth of information relating to the construction process and the lives (and deaths) of the construction workers (i.e. the navvies) and their families. On 20th March 2014, Dr Mitchell kindly granted Mark Harvey permission to reproduce these extracts and to upload them to the SCRCA Project database For further information and links to the relevant pages, see "How they built the Settle-Carlisle railway: A - Foreword and Introduction".

Primary source research made available online via the FoSCL website

  • Long-standing FoSCL member Peter Davis has a personal interest in Contract 2 (Dent Head to Kirkby Stephen) as he is the great nephew of Sir Abraham Woodiwiss ( the contractor responsible for constructing this section of the Settle-Carlisle railway. While researching this family connection, Peter made a series of visits to the National Archives at Kew and produced a set of notes that summarise his findings. These notes are available as an attachment to the following History Post: "Extracts from indentures and Minutes of the Northern Construction Committee held at Kew".
Last updated by Mark Harvey on 05/09/2017
The SCRCA Project section of the FoSCL website was designed and
developed by Mark R. Harvey. Database rights have been asserted.