192 pages. 275x215mm. Printed on gloss art paper with colour laminated board covers.
The North Pennine range that separates the industrial North East and County Durham from Lakeland and the North West is a remote and beautiful wilderness of moorland and high Pennine fells. It was here that the Stockton & Darlington, the birthplace of public railways, struck out west in the most dramatic of all the Pennine crossings. A main line that rose to 1370 feet – England’s highest. Built to link the blast furnaces of Teesside and County Durham with Cumberland Ore, and the furnaces of Cumberland with Durham coke, the railway was at its heart from first day almost to the last, a working railway built to serve the mining and steel industry of the North. For just over a century the moors around Bowes, the now quiet gills and becks of Smardale and Belah and the lonely source of the Greta River in Westmorland echoed night and day to the sound of steam battling the gradients of this remarkable railway. As the memory of the railway and the vast industries it served begins to pass from living memory, this book examines both origins and history of the railway and the 1950s revival of the Stainmore Line. Equipped with the most modern steam fleet in the country, with post-war industrial output surging and inter-regional leisure passenger traffic strong, the route seemed set for a bright future. The speed with which this bustling railway and strategic East–West link passed from peak operation to complete closure was unprecedented at the time, a casualty of a unique combination of circumstances which this book explores.