Why is the Maryport and Carlisle so poorly covered in print?

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S&CLER

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Nearly all the pre-grouping companies have now been covered in detailed histories. The GSW and the LC&D were among the last, but they now have good books about them. Only the Maryport and Carlisle seems to lack a full history. Why is this? There are brochures, one by Jack Simmons and the other by Herbert and Mary Jackson, but the latter is not really a history of the company. The Cumbrian Railways Association has reissued McGowan Gradon's old books on the west Cumberland lines, but it doesn't seem, as far as I can see, to have anything available on the M&C.

The company may not have been big, but it was a solidly profitable undertaking, and was able to finance all its enhancements out of revenue, without raising new capital. My late best friend told me that his grandma had owned M&C shares, and deplored the grouping because her new LMS shares didn't pay anything like as good a dividend. The M&C generated on-line freight traffic until relatively recently (opencast coal), over a century and a half since its creation.

Maybe this is an illustration of Hilton's Law, stated by the American railroad historian George Hilton, that companies attract attention in inverse proportion to their real economic significance, so that ramshackle picturesque byways get written about while solid workaday performers are ignored. In the UK context, that would explain why a basket case like the Stratford and Midland Junction has a good book, while the M&C doesn't.
 
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Gloster

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I believe that at one time the M&C paid the highest dividends of any railway in England and Scotland. A couple of Welsh ones (Taff Vale?, Rhymney?) were the only ones to pay more.

There have been a few references in the journal of the CRA to individual stations, mostly on the loop. It is a bit odd as the line had some unusual rolling-stock.
 

Calthrop

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A thought or two -- perhaps on the whimsical side -- concerning the M & C's perceivably undeserved neglect by railway historians, and enthusiasts of a historic bent.

One aspect which might be mused on: a "locational" one. I get the feeling that the M & C's whereabouts, was / is an "overlooked" corner of England, known first-hand by relatively few, and loved by fewer. Largely, low-lying and pleasant but fairly humdrum countryside, very unlike the magnificence of the Lake District just to the south; and in contrast, served by the line, a "small-time" and rather boring coalfield; and at line's western end, the general Solwayside industrial-communities area, wherein Maryport, Workington and Whitehaven have long been, as per popular perception, in the ranks of Britain's most thoroughly "cr*p towns". Might it just be that on some level, most people just see "M & C country", if they think about it at all, as a total "non-event"? -- with even railway historians sharing this feeling; and as matters have chanced to be, there not having been a railway author / historian of note who was one of the few lovers -- native to it, or otherwise -- of this neglected piece of real estate?

And, on a different tack: whilst @Gloster mentions the M & C's unusual rolling stock -- I get the picture in the main, that this railway lacked, pre-Grouping, much in the way of highly "different" motive power / other equipment. More generally, may it perhaps have been a sufferer from the "neither one thing nor the other" effect? Hilton's Law, as mentioned in the OP: could imaginably be seen to be not solely-and-only about economic significance; and to operate in two directions, not just one -- small or smallish "basket case" lines are fascinating and endearing (people love an underdog); grand-scale, extensive, prominent and ambitious / high-achieving railway companies have a different kind of glamour on the opposite side of the equation, which also draws much attention. Concerns like the M & C -- fairly small mileage-wise, financially successful, competently and efficiently run, just going on through the decades quietly and effectively doing their job -- come across as, reference the just-above, neither variety of highly-interesting; including, fewer historians likely to home in on them?

I'm not a learned "deep-drinking" railway history buff, so take my above "wibble" (to use a scornful word which is a favourite of a certain prominent participant on these Forums) with a pinch of salt -- but I do seem to perceive some neglect in the "fancy", of pre-Grouping companies which were in their character, in the middle as per my attempted setting-out; and which lacked great scenic or other noteworthiness, over and above their performance as transport. It would appear to me that another English pre-Grouping railway which has received less than its fair share of attention, is the London, Tilbury & Southend -- it didn't have a huge mileage, it ran through (with apologies to the good folk of south Essex) unexciting terrain; it merely did its stuff ably and efficiently. As said, I'm not railway-history-erudite, and will probably now be told about whole libraries-full of exhaustive historical material, by sundry eminent figures in the field, dealing with the L T & S !
 

S&CLER

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The LTS is quite well covered, there was a good photo album, for example. It occurs to me that the LTS and the M&C shared another claim to dullness; they were, I think (I wait to be corrected) the only pre-grouping companies of any size that didn't have any tunnels on their systems.
 

Calthrop

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Tunnels are sexy ! -- "a truth universally acknowledged"... am wondering whether any serious-transport railway, at its inception, has ever decided just for fun -- to have a tunnel, where the objective could be equally well achieved without one?
 

AJG3

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The LTS is quite well covered, there was a good photo album, for example. It occurs to me that the LTS and the M&C shared another claim to dullness; they were, I think (I wait to be corrected) the only pre-grouping companies of any size that didn't have any tunnels on their systems.
Aspatria Tunnel (with its notoriously tight clearance); the only one on the M&C.
 

S&CLER

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Aspatria Tunnel (with its notoriously tight clearance); the only one on the M&C.
interesting that my source (Railway Year Book 1921, p. 197) got it wrong, stating that "there are no tunnels on the M&C."; it also refers to George Stephenson's report to the directors before construction, in which he is said to have claimed that the line could be built very cheaply because of the level country and absence of tunnels and other expensive works. Presumably Aspatria tunnel was an afterthought on Stephenson's original plan. The M&C was one of the very few lines to almost achieve the expected revenue right from the start in 1845. It never managed the 18.75% dividend it held out in its prospectus, but it did pay 13% in 1873.
 

XAM2175

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Tunnels are sexy ! -- "a truth universally acknowledged"... am wondering whether any serious-transport railway, at its inception, has ever decided just for fun -- to have a tunnel, where the objective could be equally well achieved without one?
You're asking if a "serious" railway would deliberately spend a considerable sum of extra money on building a tunnel it knew from the outset was entirely unnecessary?
 

Calthrop

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You're asking if a "serious" railway would deliberately spend a considerable sum of extra money on building a tunnel it knew from the outset was entirely unnecessary?

I should have added a "humour" smily...
 

Gloster

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Surely my memory tells me there was at least one landowner who insisted on a tunnel to avoid spoiling his view? I can't recall where.
I think there were a number of locations where a landowner insisted on a tunnel for one reason or another. However, the railway usually accepted it on cost grounds as otherwise they would be opposed at every step by someone with influence.
 

vlad

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Surely my memory tells me there was at least one landowner who insisted on a tunnel to avoid spoiling his view? I can't recall where.

There are many of these.

One that really didn't need to be built was Swainsley Tunnel on the Manifold Valley Light Railway, which was built as one of the railway shareholders didn't want to see the railway on his land. It's now part of a minor road.
 

HSP 2

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Aspatria Tunnel (with its notoriously tight clearance); the only one on the M&C.

Aspatria "tunnel" is more like a long bridge at 3 chains long (have a look on google maps Aspatria (ASP) - Google Maps). It's not just the "tunnel" that has the tight clearances it's all of the original over bridges. That's the reason for the bars on the DMUs that ran on the line and when we had the 37s and Mk 2 stock the same.
 

Roose

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The M&C connected a fairly small place (yes, I know it's a city) to an even smaller place and was developed mainly as a mineral line with its various branches. Its significance came from connections at the 'railway city' end and then the development of Western connections, initially the Whitehaven Junction Railway but remained very much a 'local' railway in its scope.

Railway historian Jack Simmons produced a history of the line for Oakwood Press in the late 1940s, copies currently available via ABE Books/Amazon. David Joy devoted a chapter to West Cumberland including the M&C in his excellent Regional History of the Railways of Great Britain series - Volume 14, The Lake Counties (1983) regularly available second-hand. No doubt the shorter current publication Cumbrian Railways from the excellent Cumbria Railways Association also covers the M&C. The CRA also produced a 24-page book to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the M&C in the 1990s which pops up only occasionally on the second-hand. market. Finally, as noted above, the association's excellent quarterly members' magazine regularly features articles on the M&C. Two CD contain searchable copies of the magazine from the association's origin in 1976 to 2012 are available at modest cost from the CRA website. From the same source some individual print copies are available, too.

As an aside, I do recommend CRA membership to anyone interested in the railways of Cumberland, Westmorland and Lancashire North of the Sands.

I hope this helps the OP.
 

S&CLER

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The M&C connected a fairly small place (yes, I know it's a city) to an even smaller place and was developed mainly as a mineral line with its various branches. Its significance came from connections at the 'railway city' end and then the development of Western connections, initially the Whitehaven Junction Railway but remained very much a 'local' railway in its scope.

Railway historian Jack Simmons produced a history of the line for Oakwood Press in the late 1940s, copies currently available via ABE Books/Amazon. David Joy devoted a chapter to West Cumberland including the M&C in his excellent Regional History of the Railways of Great Britain series - Volume 14, The Lake Counties (1983) regularly available second-hand. No doubt the shorter current publication Cumbrian Railways from the excellent Cumbria Railways Association also covers the M&C. The CRA also produced a 24-page book to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the M&C in the 1990s which pops up only occasionally on the second-hand. market. Finally, as noted above, the association's excellent quarterly members' magazine regularly features articles on the M&C. Two CD contain searchable copies of the magazine from the association's origin in 1976 to 2012 are available at modest cost from the CRA website. From the same source some individual print copies are available, too.

As an aside, I do recommend CRA membership to anyone interested in the railways of Cumberland, Westmorland and Lancashire North of the Sands.

I hope this helps the OP.
Yes, thanks, especially the fourth title you mention, the CRA commemorative booklet. I've never seen a copy of this, though I have seen or acquired the others.
 

Mcr Warrior

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No doubt the shorter current publication Cumbrian Railways from the excellent Cumbria Railways Association also covers the M&C.
If this is a reference to the fairly recently published "An Introduction to CUMBRIAN RAILWAYS" by David Joy (Cumbrian Railway Association - 2017), then yes, the "Maryport & Carlisle Railway" is definitely featured, in Chapter Two.

Only a six page section but still an interesting read.

The selected bibliography in the above publication also specifically references the 1947 Oakwood Press book and the 1995 CRA booklet mentioned by @Roose in post #16, which maybe confirms that that there are not many titles out there on this particular railway.
 
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