Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Wamphray's Pyramids

Here's a First Transpennine Express EMU from Manchester Airport passing through Wamphray as it heads north on the West Coast Main Line.

Network Rail has been working on the line hereabouts. I thought I should 'inspect' the work that's been done!

At this point, the line goes through a shallow cutting. The recent work has involved putting in drains to ensure the stability of the embankment on the eastern side of the tracks.

And a very good job has been done too.

Crossing the railway by the bridge I found that the gorse was spectacularly in bloom last week.

On the west side of the cutting is a reminder of when the line was built by the Caledonian Railway in the mid 1840s. (Wamphray Station was opened on September 10, 1847.)

The cutting was excavated with pick and shovel by the navvies building the line. They piled up the spoil in mounds on the western side of the line. JAM Carlyle's 'Parish History of Wamphray', written in 1964 and found here, describes these as a 'series of bings', and calls them 'barrow pits'.

I've always thought of them as 'Wamphray's pyramids'!

Although much overgrown, they remain as a monument to those who built the railway.

Wild flowers on a spring day!

Such beautiful things, and such a contrast to the horror that happened a 100 years ago, some miles south of Wamphray. I wrote a little about Britain's worst railway accident at Quintinshill a year ago (here) and wondered then why this dreadful accident was not particularly well remembered. This has changed. There will be a number of commemoration events, including one attended by the Princess Royal, and even a television programme on BBC Two Scotland at 21.00 tomorrow (Wednesday, May 20). This is to be repeated on Thursday, May 21, at 21.00 on BBC Four.

How the accident happened can be found here, here, and here, and the book by Jack Richards and Adrian Searle (here) has all the details and is a compelling read. I had wondered what happened to the survivors, and my questions were answered in this book by Peter Sain Ley Berry.

One hundred years on, at 06.50 on Friday, I know what I'll be thinking about.

Photos © Skip Cottage

1 comment:

  1. Another fascinating excursion Bob and I didn't know about the spoil heaps.
    Reading about the railway reminds me of nights when the A74 was relatively quiet, lying in my tiny bedroom in our wee cottage, hearing the thunder of (what I assumed to be) the post train as it headed up Annandale. It left you with (as Ray Bradbury might have said) a long, lonely feeling - I can only imagine what it might have been like in the 1800's when the only traffic on the road would have been horses, carts and coaches!
    Phil

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