Workington Railways

Workington Railways

The reprinted 1925 Ordnance Survey map shows Workington being dominated by railways, with three stations in use at Central, Bridge and Main (or Low), the latter being the only one open today. Passenger trains ran to Carlisle, Penrith, Cleator Moor, Egremont, Barrow, Manchester and London.

Workington North was a temporary station built at short notice after the November 2009 floods which destroyed or damaged all road and pedestrian bridges across the River Derwent at Workington. It lasted less than a year, closing in 8th October 2010.

Goods lines served the various iron and steel works, collieries, docks – and the gas works. Locomotive sheds were in use at Workington, Siddick, the docks and several industrial areas.

Today only the coast line from Carlisle to Barrow and beyond is open, but the popularity of this link is growing.

The main freight traffic currently is provided by various types of traffic for the nuclear plant at Sellafield, and weekly container and china clay trains into Workington docks.  Passenger trains are mainly Leyland class 153 and Metro cammell 156, though there is a daily diagram using a class 142, built by Leyland at Workington.

Since early 2016, Direct Rail Services has provided four return trips each Monday-Saturday using class 37 diesel locos and Mark 3 coaches. These longer trains are aimed at attracting Sellafield workers out of their cars to ease road congestion  to the site.

Loco Shed 12D

The Trust set out in the late 1990s to acquire the town’s redundant locomotive shed and restore it as their base of operations. Located near the town’s only remaining railway station (there were once three stations in Workington), it had been deserted since use as a wagon repair shop in the 1980s. Unfortunately the weather, the souvenir hunters, and the vandals had taken their toll, leaving only a shell of three walls, some doors on the open end, and the structural steelwork which once supported the glazed roof.

The building was put up in the 1870s. With various additions and modifications through the years, it ended up as a 10 road shed with a central dividing wall separating it into two 5 road sections. Some roads had pits inside the shed or just outside the entrance. Our intention was to rebuild the shed for the display of trains and buses, build a reception & office block at one end, and add a covered platform along the East side for brake van rides down the long siding towards Bessemer Way bridge. The fan of sidings from the shed roads would have offered space for the display of resident and visiting locos and coaches.

In 1957 it was a sub-shed of Barrow, coded 11B, but was later to become a sub-shed of Carlisle, numbered 12D. It ended its days under the BR system as WK. Steam lasted officially until 1st January 1968, after which it was used for housing the diesel locos used on the areas heavy freight trains.

After the shed closed completely it became a wagon repair shop for a number of years; the station was then used as a stabling point for main line locomotives and the resident class 08 diesel shunting locomotive.

The 08 went in 1997, and it is now rare that locos are stabled here. However Northern still use the station as a signing on point with passenger trains stabled overnight.

Platform 5s book of “Steam Motive Power Depots – Volume 4” shows a picture of the shed in 1963 with two Derby Lightweight diesel multiple units (dmus) in the company of steam locos. The Whitehaven – Carlisle and Workington – Penrith lines were early users of these first generation dmus.

In 2006 the shed was sold to the Great Central Railway at Loughborough and dismantled for further use there, but sadly these plans did not materialise.