End of an iconic main line
Last Day of the Waverley Route
Driving north one comes to the end of
the M6 (a good thing, people might say)
just to the north of Carlisle, where a
short stretch of dual carriageway links to
the southern end of the M74 at Gretna.
Just past junction 44, there is (fairly well
hidden) a bridge over a disused railway
line, and on the other side of the road, a
low embankment heads northwards. In
January 1969, I travelled along this line - on the last day of
the Waverley route to Edinburgh. Three routes to the Scottish
lowland belt from Carlisle had been deemed one too many...
I travelled with a friend from school, having
persuaded parents to deliver us to Leeds,
where we joined the RCTS-organised trip,
consisting of MkII stock, hauled by D9007
"Pinza". It would be my first trip north of
the border, and the first real outing for the
newly-acquired (second-hand) 35mm
camera, an Arrette 1B, complete with 45mm
lens (fixed), focus by scale and guesswork,
and built-in light meter - wow! I seem to
recall it cost £15 (or was it guineas?) - a lot of money for those
days. The film used was Perutz 50ASA transparency - it was all I
could afford! The slides have since faded somewhat, but a bit of
tweaking has brought back some of the colour, and repaired
some of the exposure errors too.
The trip was an "out-and-back" via the Settle-Carlisle, where we
joined the ex-NBR route. We would make three stops on the
north-bound journey - first at Riccarton Junction, where the
trackbed of the former route to Hexham could be clearly seen.
On leaving Riccarton, we would climb to Whitrope Summit - very,
very slowly. The rails had been greased...
Next stop was the first place of any real consequence on the
line, Hawick. A Clayton diesel, D8606, stood in the sidings with a
brake van, presumably ready to round up stray rolling stock*.
From Hawick, the line enters more populous country, centred on
the town of Galashiels** - and it is from here that, with a bit of
luck, a revived "mini-Waverley" may see passenger services to
Edinburgh. We would not be stopping however - our last stop was
Fountainhall, formerly junction for the Lauder branch. Just the
climb over Falahill summit remained (no grease this time) before
Geoff’s Rail Diaries
the descent to Edinburgh, past the
smouldering tips of the collieries (Lady
Victoria?) to the south of the capital.
I seem to recall a quick leg-stretch on
Princes Street, before returning to the
train. Our journey home would be mostly in
the dark, though a bright moon further
south gave us some interesting views of the
high Pennines. I remember the "Deltic" didn't hang about in the
northern stretches of the Settle - Carlisle - I'm sure we were in
the high 90s at times, if not more (or were we travelling on short
rails? Confirmation, anyone?). A great day out - even though the
occasion was somewhat less happy.
Footnote: this page has proved to be one of the most
popular on the entire "Geoff's Pages" website. In
response to my many correspondents, I've dug into the
archives and found two more pictures, which have
been duly scanned and added to the page. One (the
vertical shot at Fountainhall) was somewhat
underexposed, and took some "tweaking" to get the
moderately acceptable image seen here. I'm not sure
it adds much value to the page. The other - the
vertical shot "On the Waverley - border country" was
OK photographically, though the comment re. value
applies to this one too. And that's really it - I wish I'd had a couple of rolls of
film, and taken more pictures of the various building and structures.
* Or so I thought at the the time. Although the line south of Hawick to
Longtown closed completely w.e.f. 6 Jan ‘69, freight services continued to ply
northwards from Hawick until 28 April ‘69. In the meantime, the very last
train over the full line, the 21.56 Edinburgh - St. Pancras sleeper, was
preceded from Hawick by a pilot to “prove the line”, following activities by
protestors. I’m guessing that D8606 performed this duty.
**The first public trains on the new “Borders Railway” from Edinburgh
Waverley to Tweedbank (just south of Galashiels) runs on Sunday 6th
September. Watch this space...
The Waverley Route Heritage Association
Bruce McCartney's Waverley Route photos on
5 Jan 1969
Fast forward: 6 September 2015 - the 9.11am from
Waverley to Tweedbank was the first public train from
the Scottish capital to Galashiels for over 46 years (it
was the first such train to Tweedbank ever - there
wasn’t a station there before closure). I was on it. It
was obligatory, wasn’t it?
By Gala Water
First Day of the Waverley Route
The Borders Railway: