Cockermouth, Keswick & Penrith Railway


Opened: 1894

Closed: 1967

Location code: LM130/14

Threlkeld signal box
Photograph by John Hinson, c1974

Threlkeld was on the borders of the Lake District, as can be seen by the mountains behind, and was the last station before the Cockermouth, Keswick & Penrith Railway entered the gorge of the River Derwent on its journey towards Keswick.

The original boxes on the line had been built by Saxby and Farmer, but a rash of replacements occurred in the 1890s and these were built to the design of the company's own engineer. Note the diagonally tiled roof. The box at this particular location has been tacked on to the station buildings on the island platform, with the base matching the stone construction of the station.

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Interior of Threlkeld box
Photograph by Alan Wren, 6/64

An interior view of the box in happier days shows signalman Bob Wren talking on the omnibus telephone with a colleague at one of the adjacent boxes.

The 18-lever frame was manufactured by a Tweedy & Co of Carlisle, a firm of signalling contractors that never saw great success although they were absorbed by Tyer & Co in 1898, giving that company expansion into production of mechanical signalling equipment.

The frames (of which several were installed on the CK&P) were of relatively conventional appearance, although the oval-shaped brass plates describing their function was distinct. The "pulls" were painted on the side of the lever in McKenzie & Holland style. Perhaps the most noticeable feature of these frames was a widening of the the quadrant slot around midway along the lever's travel. This did not affect lever operation, but provided an easy means of lever removal in the event of a breakage.

To the left of the signalman the two signalling instruments stand either side of an LMS lamp repeater. To the left is a Tyer & Co one-wire, three-position block working, usually, to Penruddock which was at the other end of the double-line section. An intermediate box existed at Troutbeck, but this only opened once a day to shunt the local goods service. The instrument to the right is a Tyer's Key Token controlling the single line through the Greta Gorge to Keswick No1.

Collecting the token
Photograph by Mr Angus (courtesy Keith Wren), c1958

A 2MT 2-6-0 arrives at the station with what is probably the Up Lakes Express. The fireman has the single-line token in his hand, ready to hand over to Bob Wren who is holding his arm forward so that the hoop of the leather carrying pouch can be slipped over his arm as the train passes. The gradient post on the right indicates a change in gradient from 1 in 300 to 1 in 68 and drivers would do their best to avoid stopping as restarting on that gradient could be difficult.

The Lakes Express comprised three portions. Two started from Workington - one section ran via the Cumbrian coast route via Barrow whilst the other crossed the Lake District by the CK&P route (as seen here) to Penrith. Here, the train had to reverse, and a Royal Scot class locomotive (which would work down light from Carlisle) worked the train forward. The third portion originated at Windermere, a branch off the West Coast main line at Oxenholme. The three portions were combined at Preston for their journey south to Euston.

Wrong Line Order from Threlkeld signal boxAn interesting item to have survived from this signal box is a Wrong Line Order issued by signalman Butterworth to the driver of a similar locomotive, 46433, which had been engaged on ballast train work on Sunday May 3rd 1960.

The driver would have been issued this ticket before entering the section and starting work. It gave him authority to reverse his train back to Threlkeld box after the work was completed. The instructions include a reminder of the location of catch points, to ensure they are secured for the movement.

After the driver had set back, he returned the ticket to the signalman, who has written "cancelled" across it to prevent re-use.

It is interesting to note that Threlkeld box was still issuing Wrong Line Orders marked London, Midland and Scottish Railway some twelve years after it became part of British Railways.

All of the boxes of the remaining section of this line (east of Keswick) closed in 1967 when the line became one-train operated, and total closure of the line occurred in 1972.

Click here to view a page from the Train Register Book for 15.8.51

About the photographs

Comments about this article should be addressed to John Hinson