Historical Spotlights

All the images and written text on this page have been put together by Appleby-in-Westmorland Society.

(2024) Spotlight On: Market Vessels in the Moot Hall

A Bronze Bushel is marked with an Earls coronet and a letter T, this is of the eighteenth century standing for either Tufton (Family name) or Thanet (the Earldom). This vessel was used by Appleby officials to check the Bushels used by the market retailers. A Bushel is a dry material measure, used for corn, flour, peas etc. It is eight gallons in volume and there are four Pecks to one Bushel.

Wooden Pecks (Halves and Quarters). These wooden vessels are not dated but bare the cypher of Elizabeth I.

The Bell metal Gallon and Quart measures are stamped with the cypher of Elizabet I and dated 1601.

Assorted scoops sat on the Boroughs Chest:

All these items would have been used by the Market Bailiffs to ensure that the trade was fair. But what was a Bushel and a Peck? They were volume measures for dry items as well as wet.

  • A Bushel is a measure of capacity equal to 8 gallons (36.4 litres) used mainly for corn or flour.
  • A Peck was quarter of a Bushel.
  • A Gallon was 8 pints of liquid and a quart is 2 pints.

The chest was for keeping the Boroughs documents, including the Town’s Charters, which are now in the safe keeping of the County Archives in Kendal.

These items can be seen on open days of the Moot Hall.

(2023) Spotlight On: Horse Racing in Appleby

Keyword searching for any references to Appleby in the British Library’s on-line resource of the United Kingdom’s newspapers brought to the notice of the Appleby Record Society several announcements in the Newcastle Courant for horse races held near the town in the late 1720s and early 1730s.

The earliest reference appeared on 22 March 1729 when the reader was informed that a Plate, Value £5 would be raced for on 9th April, by horses of 14 hands high and carrying 9 stones, over 3 heats of 4 miles each. The following day a plate value £10 for horses carrying 10 stones. Furthermore, the horses had to be measured by Anthony Parkin by the 5th April and to remain in the town until after the races. No doubt providing a nice little earner for the innkeepers providing the stabling and accommodation for the riders.

The same prizes and qualifications were offered on the 16th and 17th of April 1730 although on this occasion Messrs John Atkinson and Thomas Harrison where to measure and approve the entrants two days before the first day of racing. Again the horses must remain in the town until after the event.

On 10th September of the same year another meeting was held but on this occasion the venue was specified as Brampton Moor, near Appleby. The same prizes and qualifications applied; however, on this occasion no adjudicators were mentioned but the winning horse was to be sold for £20 – if required.

The meeting of April 1731 offered the same prizes but carried a warning that ‘No person during the said races, will be permitted to sell any liquors upon the said moor, but such as are subscribers to the [prize] plates.’ Perhaps the town’s innkeepers were making sure no offcomers took their trade!

At the meeting of September 1734 the number of prize plates remained the same but additional attractions were offered to the spectators: a saddle valued at a guinea would be raced for by horses, while women could compete for a Holland Smock of the same value.

The wood-engraving above is not, alas, for Appleby Races but was commissioned by Anthony Soulby of Penrith from the great Newcastle engraver Thomas Bewick in 1808. Unlike most such race blocks, this example is clearly site-specific to Penrith as the Penrith Beacon is visible in the top right of the image and labelled as such on the crude sketch Soulby sent to Bewick.

(2022) Spotlight On: Disaster, Disaster, Disaster!

Well, almost.

1925 saw the year start with heavy rain and snow, leading to a flood that covered the windowsills of the buildings on The Sands, but Appleby is used to the nearly annual flood.

JANUARY 6th – Penrith Observer

‘On Saturday a collision took place between a Mineral Train from the North and a Passenger Train from the East, on the Eden Valley Line at Appleby Station (Where Chris Sowerby’s scrap yard now is). A Porter names Hern had charge of the switch on the North side and secured the points open for the next train. He then went to help someone else, and after he had gone another porter reversed the points. Shortly afterwards both trains came together on the same line. The buffers of the passenger engine were broken off, and other damage done. No passengers were injured, another engine was attached to the passenger coaches and brought them on to Penrith.’

JANUARY 6th – Penrith Observer

‘On the Midland mainline section of the L.M.&S. railway considerable interruption of traffic is likely to prevail for some time owing to a landslide at Battleborough, Appleby which is much more alarming dimensions than was first reported on Saturday. There were over one hundred men working at the place, and the engineers were making arrangements to have 260 on the job all day on Sunday, including gangs from Leeds and Nottingham. The disturbance has taken place in the vicinity of one of the finest bridges on the northern section of the line. As is well known to local people the railway runs for nearly half a mile, from Appleby Station northwards to the point were it crosses the L.N.E.R. (the Eden Branch) on the top of a high embankment, in parts over 60 feet high, and there is a V shaped depression between this embankment and the Midland Company’s sidings, for many years now the Midland Company have been filling this depression with ballast and debris from other parts of the system.

On the west side of the embankment nearly opposite the Grammar School there is a long abutment of massive masonry over a yard thick and graduating in height from about 6 feet at the Battlebarrow end up to the altitude of the bridge which carries the line over the main road to the east fell side. The force of the subsidence or squeezing outwards of the embankment may be gathered from the fact that about 25 yards of this solid masonry – composed of huge blocks of hard sandstone from Crowdundle Quarry, and was built on an inclined plane towards the embankment—as been pushed bodily on to the road together with many tons of the embankment. The embankment itself, which appears to be composed mainly of big cobble stones. Half the main road is piled up with Debris from this slide and has been closed to traffic. Look-out men are placed at each side to regulate the traffic on that part of the road still open. The telegraph and telephone poles were involved in the disturbance and for a short time communication was severed. Gangs of men soon erected new poles on the other side of the road and took the wires across to them.

Grave fears were entertained as to the possibility of there being further subsidence and the engineers on the spot who are headed by Mr. Tryer, Derby and Mr. Cook, Leeds are making tests of the abutment wall almost hourly. For this purpose they have painted white discs on the wall at certain places and opposite to each disc is a steel spile driven into the road-way at a measured distance from the discs. The space between the discs and the spile is measured at frequent intervals and occasionally a light engine is taken over the down-line – which is close to ordinary traffic to ascertain if there Is any further bulging. On Saturday a large gang of men worked around the clock to rebuild the embankment.

JANUARY 27th – Penrith Observer

‘Yesterday afternoon a double drowning fatality was narrowly averted at Appleby. Two little girls named Miller aged 5 and 8 respectively, residing with their mother in Holme Street were sledging in the Broad Close, when their sledge carried them down the bank into the River Eden which is still in flood, following the recent storm. Other children playing near immediately raised the alarm, and William Robinson aged 12, son of Mr. Thomas Robinson of Chapel Street, rushed up and leaning over the bank, succeeded in clutching the younger child as she floated to him, pulling her safely out.

The other child was being carried along by the current when Mr. George Sayer, builder, who had been attracted by the children’s screams dashed up and plunged into the ice cold water, after swimming about 100 yards he caught her, and pulled her out near the Holme Bridge. Both children suffered severely from shock and cold and were attended by Dr. Fawcitt and Dr. de Montmorency. It will be recalled that a sad fatality occurred at the same place about twelve years ago, when a Grammar School boy lost his life retrieving a football from the river.’

_ _ _ _ _

So Appleby had a strange start to the year but who knows what the rest of the year brought.

(2022) Spotlight On: The Eden Valley Railway

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.

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.