2016: Confusion over electrification of the Lakes Line

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The Lakes Line

CONFUSION surrounds the long-awaited electrification of the Lakes Line – as a new report could delay work until 2024. The line, connecting Windermere with the West Coast main line at Oxenholme, had been due to be electrified by 2017. Now, a document called the Hendy Review has prompted an announcement from Government that work will be pushed back to ‘Control Period 6’, meaning electrification will not be finished until between 2019-2024.

But a Kendal-based train enthusiast has cast doubt over the announcement, saying that the decision has been made based on incorrect information. Malcolm Conway, chairman of TravelWatch North West, said that the Hendy Review puts the Lakes Line in the same bracket as other railway lines, such as the Bolton to Wigan service, where electrification work has not yet begun. But Mr Conway says work has started at Oxenholme, with more scheduled for April and May 2016, according to the Network Rail electrification timetable. He feels it is unlikely that if those behind the Hendy Review knew about this they would be happy to allow the work already conducted to lay idle for what could be close to a decade. TravelWatch NW is attending a meeting in Manchester on February 18 with Network Rail to discuss the issue.

The electrification of the Lakes Line was initially agreed during the previous coalition government, when Liberal Democrat Transport Minister Baroness Kramer announced a £16m investment package in the rail network.

South Lakes MP Tim Farron is deeply unhappy about the Hendy Report’s revelations, criticising the impact it could have on the local economy and infrastructure. “The electrification of the Lakes Line is an important infrastructure upgrade which will provide a real boost to the local area,” he said. “It makes economic and environmental sense, and will enable the line to be better integrated with the main line routes. “There is a sense of déjà vu in once more making the case for this to happen – it was given the go-ahead by the Lib Dems in government, but has now been delayed by the Conservatives. Once again, much-needed infrastructure investment in our area is being overlooked by the government, but I will continue to campaign for this.”

Westmorland Gazette, Friday 12 February 2016

1949: They saved expresses

Two railway linesmen who were called out in the middle of the night to do some electrical repairs, found one of the lines over the 100ft.-high Lambrigg Viaduct, Westmorland, on the main Euston-Carlisle route was broken.

By their action in halting expresses while temporary repairs were carried out, they probably averted a disaster.

This was stated at Oxenholme, near Kendal, yesterday, when cheques were presented to the men – Herbert Stephenson, of Seven Hill Place, Oxenholme, and his assistant, Richard Haythornthwaite – by British Railways.

Yorkshire Post, Friday 16 December 1949

1910: Oxenholme Tragedy – Lytham man’s terrible death on the line

Verdict of “suicide whilst temporarily insane”

The inquest was held at Oxenholme Railway Station, last evening, on the body of Thomas Grimshaw (41), insurance agent, 4, Queen-street, Lytham.

Deceased’s wife stated that her husband had complained of pains in his head and stomach for some time. The insurance company had written her stating that there was nothing wrong with his books. They had been at Endmoor for a little time, and she supposed him to have left to go back to Lytham. He was found dead on the line near Oxenholme on Saturday.

Evidence as to the finding of the body was given, but as to the train that passed over him it was impossible to trace it. The body was quite out of the way of any pathway.

A letter was read by the Coroner, which deceased probably wrote just before his death with the fountain pen found on him. It read:-

Mother also grumbling. Cannot help it. Hope you will get a better husband next time. Been good pals. Hope to meet [soon]. God bless baby and Tom. Hope got home all right.

The Coroner said there was no doubt the poor fellow was in a fit of temporary insanity and threw himself on the line.

A verdict of “Suicide whilst temporarily insane” was returned by the jury.

Lancashire Evening Post, Tuesday 9 August 1910

1925: Kendal man killed – Fatal accident on railway at Oxenholme

A railway fatality occurred at Oxenholme Junction, near Kendal, about 9.20 this morning, when Ernest Nevinson, porter-guard, employed on the London, Midland, and Scottish Railway, was in the shunting yard. He was knocked down and run over by a light engine returning to the sheds. His body was badly mutilated, and Nevinson was dead when admitted to the Westmorland County Hospital at Kendal. He was a married man, living at Stramongate, Kendal.

Lancashire Evening Post, 20 August 1925

1926: Fatal thorn scratch – Oxenholme engine driver’s death

Mr. G. E. Cartmel (Coroner for South Westmorland) held an inquest on the body of William Duckett (67) of 15, Helmside, Oxenholme, an engine driver employed by the L.M.S. Railway Company.

Duckett, it was stated, was a widower and lived with his daughter, Mary Jane Duckett. On Friday night, the 12th inst., he was walking home from Oxenholme railway station, having been on a visit with his daughter to Lancaster. It appears that a motor car came along, and Duckett stepped in to the side of the road behind his daughter, catching his face in a rose bush which was hanging over the  wall. At the time he entertained the fear that his eye had been injured, but when he arrived home it was found that only the flesh at the corner of his eye had been lacerated. Miss Duckett attended to the wound, and next morning at 4 45 her father went to work feeling better. He retired to bed that night about nine o’clock, but at 12 30 Miss Duckett was disturbed by her father’s laboured and heavy breathing. She gave him some milk and bathed his eye with hot fomentations, later calling in Dr. Edgcumbe from Kendal. The doctor attended him up to the time of his death, which occurred at 6 45 p.m. on the 20th inst.

At the inquest, which was held at the deceased’s home, the Coroner returned a verdict that death was due to heart failure following blood poisoning accidentally received from a scratch by a rose thorn.

Lancashire Evening Post, 26 November 1926

1851: Coroner’s Inquests … Death by Drowning

On Saturday morning last the body of a young woman, named Eleanor Hayhurst, was found in the canal, close to the Highgate Settings Bridge.  An inquest was held the same day at Oxenholme, before R. Wilson, Esq., when the following circumstances were given in evidence:-

James Cleasby, of Oxenholme, in the township of Kendal, farmer, deposed – Eleanor Hayhurst, the deceased was my servant. She has served me since last Martinmas and was intending to leave my house at Whitsuntide. Some wearing apparel had been misplaced a short time ago, and I named it to the deceased last night about ten o’clock. The doors of my house were then bolted and made fast for the night, and we were about going to bed. We had no high words, and I told deceased that if she would take the things to their proper places nothing more should be said about them. He was then standing in the passage on her way to bed.  She made no reply to what I said, but stood still about five minutes. She then moved to the out-kitchen, extinguished the candle, placed it and the stick upon a table as she passed, and unbolted the doors and hastened out of the house. She did not add anything to her dress, nor did she speak to any one. I hastened after, and ran into the garden calling her by name, and I looked about for her but could not find her. I therefore returned and called my men-servants, and we searched all the outbuildings, but we could not find her there. It was then so dark we thought it useless to search the fields. We sat up to daylight, and the recommenced the search. Having searched various other places, we went to the canal, and, after searching there some time, I found a knife which one of my servants identified as her property. We then returned home and took drags with us. We very soon found the body of the deceased. She was in the canal, quite dead, and had apparently been drowned. We found the body under the Highgate Settings Bridge, in this township, and we removed it here. There are some very steep steps down to the canal bank from the road, and it was very dark when she left my house. If she had been intending to go on the canal banks to Kendal, these steps would be her direct road. The deceased was about twenty years of age.

James Parkinson, of Oxenholme, farm-servant, said- The deceased was a fellow-servant of mine. I assisted to search for her after she was missing yesterday night, and was there when her body was found. My master asked me to name to her that some clothes were missing, and I did so whilst we were milking yesterday. She denied that she had taken them, and desired me to go and search her boxes, which she said were open. She said she wished she was dead, and appeared very much distressed in mind.  She said such stories were enough to drive anyone mad. I believe I was the first to name the missing clothes to her and she at once desired her boxes to be searched.

Verdict – Found drowned.

Westmorland Gazette, Saturday 31 May 1851

Christine Hunter, writer and biographer

Selection of Christine Hunter titles …

Christine Hunter, born in 1910, was not only a schoolteacher, but also a writer and biographer. She is understood to have lived at Woodlands (no. 98) Helmside Road in later life.

Among her titles were:

Year Title
1952 Boy from Down Under
Bunty and Peter
Coutier Treasure
Escape to Adventure
1953 Mysterious Neighbours
1955 Come on Spencers
Michael Graham, Police Cadet
1956 Michael Graham, Police Constable
1957 Mystery of Tentenbury Manor
1960 Mystery of Cousin John
1966 Deep Waters
To Life Anew
1968 Years of Our Days
1969 Guiding Light
1972 Annalisa
Gladys Aylward
Secret of Tentenbury Manor
Sparks Flying Upward
1974 Anna’s Family
Bwana Masua
1976 Day Will Dawn
Winding Road

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Undeveloped Plots on Helmside Road

The undeveloped plots on Helmside Road. Photo copyright of Tony Hartley.

The photograph above, courtesy of Tony Hartley, shows the undeveloped plots which lie on the eastern side of Helmside Road, between number 53 (left-hand side) and number 47 (right-hand side). Immediately behind the undeveloped land are the properties on Scar View Road, then Bleaswood Road.

Long-time resident John Bateson tells us the properties were all built between 1968 and 1972 and that this particular piece of land was originally intended for the children’s playground. However, it was deemed to be too close to the road and so has remained undeveloped ever since.