The Eden Valley Railway predated its now more famous cousin the Settle to Carlisle line by about fifteen years. The line was passed through Parliament in 1858.
The image above shows what the town of Appleby thought of opening. The archway was constructed of evergreen leaves and the band was the Westmorland Militia.
The line opened to freight traffic on the 8th of April 1862 and passenger traffic three months later. It was originally operated by the now World famous Stockton to Darlington Railway Company and ran from Kirby Stephen through Appleby to a junction on the Lancaster and Carlisle line at Clifton Junction. The route was due to a fear that the EVR would become a route through to Scotland thus depriving the L&C of trade. This was soon altered to allow the track to be taken through to Penrith, the service from Penrith became operable in August 1863, by which time the EVR had been incorporated with the North Eastern Railway Company.
Passing over level crossing at Appleby East
The passenger service was initially just two trains per day but under NER this expanded to five per day and continued at that through out the NER ownership.
With the opening of the Cockermouth, Keswick and Penrith Railway this allowed a through traffic from coast to coast. The main freight was coke to Workington and iron to the North East, the record of 200,000 tons of freight passed over the line via Stainmore in the 1880’s.
The London North Eastern Railway Company extended the passenger service through to Darlington, but the freight traffic was dropping of due to the removal of the Redhills curve into Penrith. By 1936 any freight was merely local good.
With the coming of British Rail the passenger service was down to three a day and was soon operated with diesel units, the first closure proposal was in 1959, after a long battle the passenger service was withdrawn on 22nd January 1962. This saw the Clifton to Appleby closed down but Appleby to Kirkby Stephen stayed for the transport of the products from the quarries at Hartley. 1974 saw the closure of the section from the quarries to Warcop , Appleby to Warcop was maintained due to the Ministry of Defence site at Warcop, the Army used the line until 1989 and then the line fell into disuse.
2.2 miles of the track is still looked after by the Eden Valley Railway Trust and a service is still run during summers months from Warcop Railway Station.
Many thanks to the members of Appleby-in-Westmorland Society for putting all this information together.