Sunday, 23 February 2014


It's October 2, 1982 and the first Withdrawal of Passenger Service notices had just been posted at all surviving stations along the Settle to Carlisle line, in advance of the complete closure of the route. Former LNER A4 Pacific No. 4498 Sir Nigel Gresley with the southbound Cumbrian Mountain Pullman is seen passing over Ribblehead viaduct. This structure, and British Rail's massively inflated forecasts for the cost of its repair, came to epitomise the immense fight that was to ensue in the eighties between British Rail, duplicitous short-term thinking politicians and the public which would eventually lead to the survival of what has now become an immensely important national freight and passenger artery. 

The British love railways, and always have done so.  It's not surprising really; Britain was the country that invented them and exported the concept abroad so that there are now few places in the world far from a rail head. They have however never loved the companies and the politicians that have, by and large, incompetently tried to administer them, or worse close them.

No other battle exemplifies the public's contempt for the politicians who tried to close a railway, or the public's resolve to retain a vital national asset than the campaign to save the Settle and Carlisle Railway (the S and C) line in the late 1980s.