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Tuesday, 15 May 2018

The way things were.

We arrived at Carnforth about three in the afternoon and decided to head down to the Station.

 The station has three sets of buildings due to it's history. The original station, that is to the left in the photo above was built in 1846. This became what we now know as the West Coast Main line. The platforms were closed in 1968 as stopping trains here were stopped. In 1857 a railway was built that headed to Ulverston and Barrow in Furnace and these were linked to the main line via the platforms to the right. In 1880 a link was made to the east and Carnforth became a majot junction with train sheds, engineering shops and a sign on place for drivers etc.
The clock above also became iconic in the David Lean film that was partly made at the station. It has a history all of its own. It was made in 1880 by Joyce of Whitchurch. It was mecanical and needed winding. For the film it was covered in canvas on which the numbers and hands were painted on to the time required in the film. In 1978 the mecanics were sold and it became electric. It further lost its allure by having a vandal proof cover being added. These were returned in 2002 and it was fully restored in 2005.

The film 'Brief Encounter' has been voted the 2nd or 12th best British film ever in various polls. It is one of those romantic films that seems to touch everybody. It was made in 1945 by David Lean and was adapted from a one act play called 'Still Life' by Noel Coward. The plot, briefly is Trevor Howard and Celian Johnson meet on a station. Both are married but they bump into each other again and they have an affair (in the old fashioned sense), until Celia Johnson just decides that she can't let her husband down and they part. The end scene is in the refreshment room of the station but just as the denouement arrives a friend of Celia Johnson arrives and prattles right through the parting without realising  what is going on. There is a couple of rooms devoted to the film and David Lean, and the film runs on a loop too. Only 10 minutes of the film were actually filmed here, however the film company were on location for five weeks and the film stars for two weeks.

The scenes of the film that were filmed in the refreshment room were actual filmed at Denham studios where scenery had been made up. Actually the scenery closely followed the details of the actual refreshment rooms, and these have been recreated now.
Carnforth Station was chosen as it had all the requirements as it had to have a place to store the engines, a turning area, not too busy over night and other like things. There were perhaps stations that fitted the bill closer to London but as the war was still going on there was a blackout in and near major cities, but not in the country north west.

As we were on the platform a train special stopped briefly. It was being powered by a Deltic Diesel engine. They were introduced in 1961/62 to power the trains on the east Coast Main Line. They were called Deltics after the Napier Deltic power plants that drove them along at 100mph.

I love this art deco type platform that serves the Furness Vale/Ulverston line. As the line is on a bend there is plenty of squealing as the trains comes to a stop. 

To get between platforms there is an atmospheric subway

As you come up to the platform level it feels even more like an Art Deco building. I think it was constructed in the 1930's.

The sidings and depot sheds etc also had the coal hoist for bunkering the tenders and a water tank for filling them. There was also an ash tower. When the depot was closed in 1967 a group of local enthusiasts took it on and this resulted in many steam locos finding their way there along with other rolling stock. It was opened to the public until the insurance etc became too much and is now just for the volunteers. West Coast Railways, the leading special trains operator is based there too.

Currently around twelve steam trains are based here and that makes Carnforth a train spotters hot spot as they are regularly going out on specials in the season.

The Furness Railway Company built this stone signal box in 1882 but it was only used until 1903 but it is now a listed building. I'm not sure how many others like this are left in the country.

The Central Island station buildings is run by a trust that has the museum about Brief Encounter, David Lean, the history of the local railway lines and of Carnforth it's self, as well as the Refreshment Room. There is so much to see that we went back the next morning. On the old mainline platform is The Snug, a micropub that lives up to its name.

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