The following article was written by Pete Shaw and was first published in the August 2011 issue of the FoSCL Journal.
Standing by the side of the branch line at Coupland Beck, between Appleby and Warcop, was very peaceful on 21st November 1981. I had gone by train to Appleby and then cycled out into the countryside to photograph celebrity Class 40 diesel loco 40106, which was scheduled to appear later on, as part of the Kings Cross – Appleby – Warcop – Carlisle railtour named the “Warcop Warrior”.
After eating my picnic and watching the cows watching me, I espied another chap with a camera around his neck. The ambling gait and longish locks told me that I was due for another lecture by rail enthusiast Peter Walton from nearby Brough Sowerby!
I regularly encountered Peter in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and always enjoyed railway conversations with him. But latterly his main topic had been the likelihood of British Rail trying to close the S&C. He and others had recently formed a campaign group called the ‘Friends of the Settle-Carlisle Line Association’ and he kept telling me that I should join. Like many people at that time, I was sceptical; thinking that if B.R. and the Government wanted to close it, what could anybody hope to achieve by opposing them? I had resisted the hectoring by PW for quite some months, but finally succumbed that afternoon beside the Warcop branch, handed over my £2, and joined FoSCLA.
After serving my apprenticeship as an innocent observer for a while, I became enmeshed in the campaigning to save the line from closure, was elected onto the committee, became Secretary, then was honoured to be appointed a Vice President.