The railways of Bigrigg and Woodend

In the first part of the 19th Century big deposits of haematite (iron ore) were discovered in the Bigrigg, Woodend as well as Cleator and Egremont districts of West Cumberland, and by the 1840's they were being rapidly exploited.

Railway lines were constructed by the Whitehaven, Cleator and Egremont Railway running from Whitehaven to Cleator, with branches to Woodend and Bigrigg to carry the ore.

When the Whitehaven, Cleator & Egremont Railway Company was taken over in February 1878 by the London & North-Western and Furness Companies, the W. C. & E. Comprised 22 miles and 46 chains of railway (reduced to single track).

Numerous short tracks were laid to service the large quantity of pits, quarries in the area.

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Link to web album of railways around Bigrigg and Woodend

THE OREPIT BRANCH BUILT IN 1898 - served Wyndham, Croft and David Lawn and terminated at Air Pit which over looks Egremont Cricket Ground at Gill foot Park. After the mines closed, a vast amount of Railway Coaches were stored for a number of years, the engine that came to collect them was a 2]-6-4 tank  engine

THE PARKHOUSE BRANCH - Left the Pallaflatt branch just out of the village, it swung around to the right till Cammel Lairds Parkhouse #1, across Parkhouse Lonnin to enter the yard for Parkhouse #2, which had been the site of the Mansion which currently (2012) is Moorehouses yard.

BIGRIGG BRANCH LINE - was closed Sept 10th 1951, Bigrigg signal box had closed in 1933 and the points were operated from Moor Row by  motor operated points and Pallaflatt branch closed 31st Dec 1930

Here's a couple of maps showing the extent of the various branch lines to the pits, quarries

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