June’s Spotlight On: Disaster, Disaster, Disaster!
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 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.’
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.
_ _ _ _ _
So Appleby had a strange start to the year but who knows what the rest of the year brought.