New book recalls the golden age of steam

The Westmorland Gazette: A train crosses the west viaduct as it coasts into Arkholme in April 1953 A train crosses the west viaduct as it coasts into Arkholme in April 1953

THE age of steam is celebrated in the latest book in a series from the Cumbrian Railways Association.

‘A North Lancashire Railway Album’ focuses on the railways in the Lancaster area from the end of the Second World War up to the late 1960s.

Following on from his earlier compilation, ‘A Cumbrian Railway Album’, author Leslie Gilpin has brought together a selection of photographs from brothers Alan and Ian Pearsall. The Pearsall brothers moved to Morecambe as boys and their pictures illustrate steam, early diesel and electric trains of the time.

They were interested in the railways of the area and their images capture both the commonplace and the unusual, often with an artistic eye on the surrounding landscape.

The book’s author said: “Even when they had flown the family nest they would return, often during holidays, and Alan was to maintain a retreat at Bare Lane until his death.

“Ian developed his photographic technique in the Lancaster and Morecambe area and went on to become a member of Maurice W Earley’s prestigious Railway Photographic Society.”

The pictures included in this compilation offer an insight into the transition from the private era to the late 1940s nationalised British Railways.

Also detailed in the book is the rivalry for shipping connections between Barrow, Heysham and Morecambe.

It charts the significance of Morecambe as an important destination for day-trips and holidays, particularly for people from Barrow.

The last – and saddest – picture in the collection was taken on August 16 1968 of Carnforth shed yard, which the author says, by that point, had become a ‘mausoleum’ for trains ‘awaiting their last journey to the scrapyard’.

The geographic area covered is the West Coast Main Line from north of Garstang and Catterall to Carnforth, the ‘little’ North Western line from Settle Junction to Morecambe and Heysham, and the various branch lines in between.

The book is lavishly illustrated with more than 200 monochrome photographs and seven colour maps.

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