Furness Railway

The Furness Railway (Furness) was a railway company operating in the Furness area of north-west England.


The company was established on May 23 1844 when the Furness Railway Act was passed by Parliament. The line, as originally laid, was intended principally for mineral traffic (slate and iron ore), and extended from Kirkby-in-Furness to Dalton-in-Furness, this was later extended to Rampside.A later line was built from Dalton to Barrow. That portion was opened on August 11 1846. Passenger traffic began in December 1846.


Subsequent extensions took the railway to Ulverston in April 1854; the Whitehaven and Furness Junction Railway was taken over in 1865 thus extending the Furness Railway to Whitehaven, Carnforth (where the Furness linked with the London and North Western Railway and thence to Lancaster (see below), Coniston and Lakeside). The line was linked to Lancaster on August 27 1857 by the Ulverston and Lancaster Railway, which was bought out by the Furness Railway in 1862.

The Furness Railway was connected to the Midland Railway by the Furness and Midland Joint Railway in 1867. Also in 1867 the Hincaster Branch from Arnside to the Lancaster and Carlisle Railway at Hincaster was opened .

Barrow Central Station

The original main line did not run through Barrow, though its headquarters and engineering works were adjacent to St. George's Square. Through trains had to run into the terminal station and then out again to continue their journey. The new Barrow Central station was not opened until 1882, when through working became possible.


Main article: Steam locomotives of the Furness Railway
The first locomotive superintendent was later to be knighted as Sir James Ramsden, the town's leading civic figure. No locomotives were actually built in the local works itself: they were generally standard designs, purchased from other manufacturers. By 1921, fifteen different works were represented. However, W.F.Pettigrew, who had taken over operations in 1896, was to introduce some measure of standardisation.

There were also carriage and wagon-building shops, and repairs and maintenance was carried out on the equipment of Barrow Docks.

Line details

  • Viaducts: The line crosses several major estuaries - the Kent and Leven rivers being among them - over substantial viaducts.
  • Tunnel: the Bransty Tunnel in Whitehaven is 1333 yd (1219 m) in length
  • Total mileage (lines owned or worked) (1912): 190.25 miles (306 km)

Barrow Docks

Details given are those shown for 1912:

  • Total area of water: 278 acres (1.13 km²)
  • Four docks: Devonshire; Buccleuch; Ramsden; and Cavendish. There was also a Timber Dock.
  • Length of quays 2.25 miles (4 km)
  • The firm of Messrs Vickers built major ships for the Royal Navy here
  • There was also a deep water berth in Walney Channel

Other statistics

  • As at 31 December 1911 the Railway owned rolling stock as follows:
    • 130 locomotives; 348 coaching vehicles; 7766 goods vehicles; 2 steam rail motor cars
    • Locomotives painted Indian red; passenger vehicles ultramarine blue with white upper panels
    • Passengers carried (year ending 31 December 1911) 3 297 622
    • Steamers: Barrow-Fleetwood service - four paddle steamers; lake steamers - two on Coniston Water; seven on Lake Windermere; three Barrow steam tugs

The Furness Railway operated as an independent company until December 1922, when it was merged as one of the constituent companies of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway following the Railways Act 1921.

See also


Information contained in this article is extracted from Railway Year Book (Railway Publishing Company) for 1912

  • Conolly, W.P., (1957), Pre-Grouping Atlas and Gazeteer, p. 24 and p. 26, Fifth Ed. Repr. 1997, Ian Allen, ISBN 0-7110-0320-3

External links

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