4th March 1972 (Last day for passenger traffic)
This picture (supplied by Adrian Taylor Business Services) was taken from the signal box at Troutbeck on 4th March 1972
This is the mid afternoon train, which I was on board.
My Story of 4th March 1972 (by Nigel Wright)
I remember my parents talking about the closure of the Penrith-Keswick Railway a week before it closed. As a 14 year old I had not given the railway to Keswick much thought until then but decided that I should take the opportunity of at least riding the train to Keswick once. The following Saturday (4th March 1972) I looked out of the window to find a good depth of snow. I was very much in two minds whether to risk the journey due to the bad weather but decided I should be brave as this was saying good-bye to yet another Cumbrian Railway. I wrapped up warm and set off for the station which was fairly close to my home in Castletown, Penrith.
I reached the station and bought a return ticket. I went through the subway to platform 4 where the train was waiting. I boarded the train and awaited its departure. The weather was pretty bad and everything was white which spoiled the view somewhat. The windows were well steamed up and dirty so this made it doubly difficult to see the scenery. The train set off from platform 4 at a slow speed, we rose up away from Penrith and onto the Keswick line at CKPR junction just past the M6 motorway. The first station was Blencow where we stopped, the train set off again and we then arrived at Penruddock station which looked run down with its broken windows. On to Troutbeck and then the downhill run to Threlkeld. After stopping at Threlkeld we entered the Greta Gorge with the river looking very nice with snow all around it. On through "Little Tunnel" then through Low Briery halt. Through "Big Tunnel" then we arrived at Keswick where I alighted. I set off to walk into Keswick but the weather was so miserable I changed my mind and boarded the next train back to Penrith. I was very taken by the character of the line which made me feel like I had gone back in time to take the trip. I was so taken aback I decided to take the afternoon train and after lunch I asked my mate Frank if he fancied a ride on the train to Keswick. He said he did, so we set off for Penrith station. We took the afternoon train which was pretty full of people mostly those wanting to say good-bye to the Penrith-Keswick Railway. A man with a cine camera boarded the train at Penrith and filmed the inside of the train. It was not until years later that I would find he was filming for the video "Trains to Keswick" by Lapwing productions. What was even more surprising was that Frank and I managed to get on the film if only a brief glimpse through an internal window. The second journey was very much like the first with almost zero visibility out of the steamed up and dirty windows. I was taken aback by the nostalgia of the day and was very glad I had ventured out in the terrible weather to say good-bye (or good-bye for now?) to the Penrith-Keswick Railway. I left Penrith station feeling very sad about the loss of this beautiful and wonderful railway.
After 4th March 1972
It was not until later that year that the track was lifted because goods trains still went to Blencow. Once the line was lifted I walked the trackbed from Penrith to the bridge just west of Blencow on a number of occasions. Many of the railway artifacts were still around then and the railway houses at Redhills were still standing, although they were derelict. Despite the track having been lifted the railway still kept a lot of its character.
As I got a little older I thought about trying to get the railway rebuilt as a heritage railway but lacked the skills for running such a project.
It was with great delight that I found out about Cedric Martindale's project to rebuild the railway. I contacted Cedric and was sent a 'Newsletter Update'. At first I was very sceptical about the project and had a number of questions for Cedric to answer. I was worried about Keswick golf course where the railway ran through the middle. Cedric assured me that this was no problem as the trackbed could be lowered so the golf balls went over the top, and anyway a train window could take a golf ball hit with no problems. I asked about Blencow station which was now a private residence but Cedric said that the station had a goods loop which could be used instead of the previous alignment. My negative view of the project then became a very positive one. In 2000 I approached Cedric concerning starting a website and after some thought Cedric said OK. The website was very useful for advertising the Bonds issues and passing on information about the project. At the same time I also joined many railway chat groups to which I passed on information about the Bonds issues and the project.