RAILWAY CATASTROPHE - EMBANKMENT COLLAPSES

Posted 2nd June 2016 by Maggie Clowes

The serious landslide at Armathwaite was not the first to affect the Carlisle Settle line. Buried in the scrapbooks kept by the Heelis family, now in the keeping of the Appleby and Westmorland Society is an article headed “Appleby Railway Landslide”. New Year’s night, 1925 witnessed the worst flood in the town for seventy years. The road was so damaged in Chapel Street that the drain pipes were exposed. And then the railway embankment near the Grammar School gave way.

“APPLEBY RAILWAY LANDSLIDE

POSITION STILL PRECARIOUS

Working Day and Night on Embankment Restoration

Notwithstanding that many gangs of men have been working in shifts day and night in restoring the embankment on the LMS Railway, Midland section, main line, at Appleby which was more seriously disturbed during the recent floods than was was first reported it is stated that considerable time may elapse beforthe line is in normal working order.

Railway DisasterThe subsidence was of an alarming character. To the north of the station there is a high embankment terminating just beyond the big bridge which which carries the railway over the Longmarton Road. Opposite the Grammar School about 25 yards of solid masonry, composed of huge blocks of sandstone, was forced on to the main road, together with many tons of the big cobblestones composing the embankment proper.

Half the roadway has been covered with debris during the past week. Telephonic and telegraphic communication between Penrith and Appleby on the normal Post Office service was severed and temporary posts had to be erected on the other side of the road.

Engineers from Derby and Leeds are in charge of the work of restoration. During the past week as as far (sic) as 250 men have been employed on the job and the train service has been seriously interfered with. As recorded in the “Herald” last week traffic had to be diverted over the L and N W line at Carlisle and goods trains are still using this route.One-line working is the rule at Appleby, and trams pass over the length involved in the disturbance at a very low speed.

Railway DisasterDuring the past week it was feared that the engineers had not got to the full extent of the subsidence, as on Wednesday operations on a large scale were begun on the north side of the railway bridge. Here the foundations of an extra and massive “Babbery” is being laid and in due time will be filled with new ballast. Considerable progress has been made on the down line, (south of bridge), side of the embankment, where the worst subsidence occurred - that which pushed out into the roadway about 25 yards of the thick abatement. several trainloads of hard stone from the Wakefield district have been deposited on the embankment on both sides.

Cumberland and Westmorland Herald January 10 1925

CAUSE OF THE COLLAPSE?

“An Appleby resident, who remembers the line being built, has stated that the building of the embankment was a difficult and costly job for the company, as one of the fields over which it passed was of a marshy character, and much time elapsed before the engineers could secure a satisfactory foundation’ Penrith Observer 6 January 1925

The Observer goes on to record that an important part of the work was laying a big drain, ending in a culvert under the road to the ground sloping towards the Eden.