Book review: Enjoying the Cumbrian Coast Railway by David John Hindle
The popularity of the TV programme “Coast” has brought the delights of Britain’s coastal regions to a wider audience, especially those not too familiar with our nation’s spectacular seaboard.Those of us who live close to the north Lancashire and Cumbria coast, and especially those of us who travel by rail in the region, are fortunate to be able to take in the best of coast (and coastal countryside) of north Lancashire and Cumbria through the windows of the trains on the decent rail services we are fortunate to still have.The history, geography, and just about everything else related region’s coastal rail heritage are the themes of this first rate new book by Lancashire author David Hindle.Knowing that his previous career was in the police, it is easy to see from where he gets his attention to detail. The 160-page hardback is encyclopaedic in its thoroughness.David has written 15 books since retiring from the police service in 1999, mainly of regional historical and ornithological interest.Mentioning ornithology, and having read (and reviewed) some of David’s previous books, it is no surprise that while concentrating on railways in the new book, he includes a generous section devoted to the area’s bird and wildlife heritage - which can be viewed by train travellers from the comfort of their carriage seats or by taking a walk from the many attractive stations dotted along the line.“Enjoying the Cumbrian Coast Railway” was published just before Christmas. Although much of the book is about the Cumbrian coast, there is a great deal about the line between Lancaster and Arnside – and in historical terms about railwayana in other parts of the North West, including Fleetwood and Blackpool.The rise of the railways in the Victorian era – for helping with the exploitation of the region’s mineral wealth, and for transporting passengers to the Lake District’s burgeoning tourist trade, through to the on-going transportation of nuclear flask traffic to Sellafield and the regular Barrow - Manchester airport run – David Hindle has put this wonderful part coastal / part rural route under the microscope, coming up with a fascinating, photo-packed analysis of the line both past and present.Along with the telling of the line’s story, there are “halts” where David gives various historic insights into some of the communities through which the railway passes – telling such tales as how Barrow-in-Furness was involved in the two world wars, and Millom’s Armistice Day celebrations in November 1918.The history of the Fleetwood - Barrow ferry links are also documented.There’s even time for some personal history, when David writes of his ancestors in Millom who worked at Hodbarrow mine, and even an encounter with a shark while skinny dipping near St Bees.Grimsargh-based David has collaborated with Garstang photographer (and fellow-rail enthusiast Mark Bartlett), who has provided many of the photographs in the volume.Whether you are train buff, a birdwatcher, or just generally interested in the development of north Lancashire and Cumbria, the book, which I firmly expect will become a local classic, will be of interest, not just to be “dipped into” but as a real reference work on this vital railway route in the north of our region.* Enjoying the Cumbrian Coast Railway by David John Hindle is available from Silver Link Publishing Ltd in hardvack price Â£25.