The construction of the Cockermouth, Keswick & Penrith Railway (CK&PR) was brought about by the need to transport iron ore and pig iron from West Cumberland to the north east and coke in the reverse direction. The Cockermouth, Keswick & Penrith Railway retained its independence until 1923 but was jointly operated by the LNWR and Stockton & Darlington (later NER). The NER handed over its freight trains to the LNW at Cockermouth but the LNW worked all the passenger trains. Doubling of 13½?miles of the Threlkeld - Penrith section was completed in 1904 but was singled again in 1968 by which means closure was averted for four years. A popular train that ran in July and August in the 1950s and 60s was the John Peel Land Cruise; this was always a six car diesel unit when DMUs were still a bit of a novelty. It started from Blackpool, called at Morecambe and then ran non-stop via the Cumbrian Coast to Keswick where there was a three hour stop. The return leg was via the WCML; advance booking was essential.
Route when Line was Open
Cockermouth to Keswick - At Cockermouth (NY120303), having made an end on junction with the Cockermouth & Workington Railway (which had opened in 1847), the line headed east climbing at 1 in 70 for three miles to the first station at Embleton. Continuing east the line descended to Bassenthwaite Lake where a level crossing took it across the A594 into the station situated on the very shores of the lake. Turning south it then hugged the west bank of the lake for three miles to Braithwaite with fine views of the 3,054ft Skiddaw rising up from the opposite side of the lake. It then turned east to pass over the low lying tract of land formed by the River Derwent as it flowed between Derwent Water and Bassenthwaite Lake. Keswick (NY270238)12½?miles from Cockermouth had three platforms and the Keswick Hotel built by CK&P in 1869.
Keswick to Penrith - Soon after leaving Keswick it passed through the Big tunnel and entered the narrow gorge of the River Greta which it crossed eight times over the three miles to Threlkeld where extensive sidings were provided to serve the micro-granite quarries. The next five miles to the summit level of 889ft at Tarn Moss just east of Troutbeck were at 1 in 62 and to avoid high ground east of Penruddock if made a gradual but complete horse shoe curve to the north. At Blencow up and down platforms were provided together with goods yard, cattle dock and coal drop. A long goods loop avoided the platforms and three quarries had connections in the area. From here the line dropped down to Redhills Junction, where the spur south to the West Coast and Eden Valley lines diverged to pass under this line. The CK&P then joined the WCML at Keswick Junction (NY508294) half a mile south of Penrith station. In the reverse direction trains from Penrith faced a continuous climb at 1 in 70 for over four miles to reach the summit.
Reopening Proposal - Since 1998 The Cockermouth, Keswick & Penrith Railways PLC (CKPR PLC) have been seeking support for their project of reopening the Keswick - Penrith section. The cost of rebuilding the line is estimated at £25m but half of this was to have been funded by the SRA as part of the Transport Plan and Cumbria County Council has indicated that it would be prepared to consider funding applications. Owners of the trackbed have been contacted and discussions held with the Lake District National Park Authority about the sections they own, including accommodating the Keswick Railway Path. The reopening is supported by the owners of Keswick station, Northern Trains and Virgin Trains. A change in policy means that Rail Property Ltd no longer propose to sell off Mosedale and Penruddock viaducts. Eden District Council appears to be against the reopening of the Keswick & Penrith Railway and are allowing development at Flusco Business Park to straddle the trackbed. Latest Setback - Despite receiving more than 60 objections, Eden District Council's Planning Committee granted Planning Permission for an industrial unit on the alignment of the Railway at Flusco. The application was made public in April 2009 and the decision was made on Thursday 16th July 2009. Officers recommended that Planning Permission for the Industrial Unit be granted and did not recommend any conditions regarding protection of the Railway trackbed - even though the Council has such policies.
Excellent sources for information on the line are the books below:
Click Here for Great Video from 1940s on CKP Railway
Please help support The Cockermouth, Keswick & Penrith Railway restore the line CKP Railways plc
Many thanks to everyone who helped with information and photos for the website Bibliography