John Speller's Web Pages Newcastle & Carlisle Railway

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The sixty-mile-long Newcastle & Carlisle Railway was Britain's first line to be built between the east and west coasts. The Newcastle-on-Tyne and Carlisle Railroad Company was formed on 26 March 1825. A preliminary survey was carried out by Benjamin Thompson (1779-1867), and the line was authorized by an Act of 22 May 1829. Isambard Kingdom Brunel, who did not in fact make his first journey by rail until a year later in 1831, applied for the post of Engineer of the line in 1830, as did George Stephenson. The job, however, was given to Francis Giles (1787-1847), who perhaps not coincidentally happened to be a substantial shareholder in the company. It is interesting to speculate on how different things might have been if Brunel had been successful in getting the appointment, and especially what might have been the fate of the seven foot gauge if Brunel had got an additional three year head-start on it by engineering the Newcastle & Carlisle line. The broad gauge derived from the overhead railway built to serve the Chatham Dockyard sawmills by Sir Marc Isambard Brunel a quarter of a century earlier, and I. K. Brunel would doubtless have used the 7' 0" (π-1 meters; 4' 8" 1) gauge had he been made Engineer of the Newcastle & Carlisle line. Construction of the latter began in 1830, and the line opened from Carlisle to Blaydon using horse traction in 1834. The company decided to adopt steam traction in November 1834, and the first locomotive, No. 1 "Comet," was delivered by R. & W. Hawthorn in 1835. The line was completed to Gateshead, across the Tyne from Newcastle, on 18 June 1838, and into Newcastle in 1839. The line originally had its own stations at Newcastle and Carlisle, but began using Newcastle Central in 1851 and Carlisle Citadel in 1864. The company was absorbed by the North Eastern Railway in 1862. The line still occupies an important place in Britain's railway system and among its numerous services is a twice-daily Newcastle to Stranraer service via Carlisle, Gretna Green, Dumfries, Auchinleck, Kilmarnock, Troon and Ayr on the former Glasgow & South Western Railway.
Map of the Newcastle & Carlisle Railway
Hexham Station, 1836, from a painting by James Wilson Carmichael (1800-1868), produced for the publication, A Series of Views on the Newcastle & Carlisle Railway, Newcastle & London, 1836
Corby Viaduct, 1836, from a painting by James Wilson Carmichael (1800-1868), produced for the publication, A Series of Views on the Newcastle & Carlisle Railway, Newcastle & London, 1836
The first locomotive to travel across Britain from east to west - Newcastle & Carlisle Railway No. 1, "Comet," built by R. & W. Hawthorn of Newcastle in 1835. This is the locomotive shown in the illustration of Hexham Station on the left
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