Whitehaven, Cleator & Egremont Railway
In the 1850’s the discovery of steel making using hematite ore
meant that the hinterland behind Whitehaven was an important source
of this valuable material.
At first, long trains of horse drawn carts took the ore to the blast furnaces or to the harbour at Whitehaven for transport by sea. A railway line was essential to handle this traffic and the WC&ER was born.
Initially there were two lines – one to Frizington and one to Egremont, the junction being made at Moor Row. Further extensions were made until the Frizington line made a junction with the Cockermouth & Workington Railway at Marron Junction, and with the Furness Railway at Sellafield, with the extension of the Egremont branch. This railway ostensibly was an ‘ independent’ line promoted by the W&FJR (later the Furness Railway), and the WC&ER.
The Act for the line was obtained on 16th June 1854, and was opened to goods traffic on 1 st July 1857. For the same reasons that led to the birth of the Cleator & Workington Junction Railway , and because of the founding of that railway, the WC&ER was vested in the LNWR in 1877. After a bit of a row with the Furness Railway over an agreement they made not to act independently, the railway was vested jointly in the LNWR and the Furness Railway in 1878. The railway operated their own rolling stock, which was divided up between the two companies and was locally known as the ‘Joint Lines’