St Bees railway station

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St Bees National Rail
St Bees railway station with sign.jpg
Building, sign, and platform track
Place St Bees
Local authority Copeland
Coordinates 54°29′35″N 3°35′28″W / 54.493°N 3.591°W / 54.493; -3.591Coordinates: 54°29′35″N 3°35′28″W / 54.493°N 3.591°W / 54.493; -3.591
Grid reference NX970119
Station code SBS
Managed by Northern
Number of platforms 2
DfT category F2
Live arrivals/departures, station information and onward connections
from National Rail Enquiries
Annual rail passenger usage*
2004/05 27,646
2005/06 Increase31,222
2006/07 Increase33,578
2007/08 Increase38,542
2008/09 Decrease34,950
2009/10 Increase45,986
2010/11 Increase49,410
2011/12 Increase50,840
2012/13 Decrease49,186
2013/14 Increase54,146
2014/15 Increase61,174
Original company Whitehaven and Furness Junction Railway
Pre-grouping Furness Railway
Post-grouping London, Midland and Scottish Railway
21 July 1849 Station opened
National RailUK railway stations
* Annual estimated passenger usage based on sales of tickets in stated financial year(s) which end or originate at St Bees from Office of Rail and Road statistics. Methodology may vary year on year.

St Bees Railway Station serves the village of St Bees in Cumbria, England. St Bees is one of the few mandatory stops on this section of the line (along with Askam, Sellafield, Ravenglass & Millom) and as a result all trains call here. It is the location of the only passing loop on the lengthy single track section between Whitehaven and Sellafield and trains are often scheduled to pass here.[1] St Bees is famous for the rocky St. Bees Head, the starting point of the Coast to Coast Walk that runs from the Irish Sea to the North Sea. Many walkers alight at the station to start the walk.


The Whitehaven and Furness Junction Railway was authorised in 1847 for a line which would link the town of Whitehaven with the Furness Railway at Broughton-in-Furness.[2] It was opened in stages, and the first section, that between Whitehaven and Ravenglass opened on 1 June 1849;[3] St Bees station opened on 21 July 1849.[4] The imposing station buildings, consisting of station-master's house, waiting rooms and ticket office, were built in 1860 by Mr J Townley of Whitehaven.[5]


The railway station is a stop on part of the scenic Cumbrian Coast Line 43 miles (70 km) south-west of Carlisle. It is operated by Northern who provide all passenger train services. It has a fine ensemble of railway buildings. The station master’s house and ticket office on the up platform date from 1860 and operates now as a popular restaurant with a railway theme. On the down platform, the waiting room is still a period timbered Furness railway structure. To the east of the "up" platform is the site of the goods yard which was heavily used for the stone traffic from the sandstone quarries at St Bees in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It also handled the traffic from Walker's scone flour works and pickle factory, and the luggage traffic at term ends for St Bees School.[6] The yard is now a public car park which is subsidised for free public use by the Parish Council.[7]

Signal box[edit]

The Arts and Crafts signal box, showing its architectural features

The station has a 24 lever signal box, which was opened in 1891 to meet the heavy traffic demands of that time. In December 2013 this was designated a grade 2 listed building, being one of the few in the UK built in the "Arts and Crafts" style.[8] This is a Furness Railway type 3 design. The English Heritage listing recommendation report says; "The Type 3 design is one of the most distinctive boxes ever erected, in an arts and crafts style, probably influenced by the stations that Austin & Paley were designing for the Furness Railway. It has a tall battered base in stone and a steeply pitched tiled hipped roof. Tall window frames are individually grouped. Unfortunately the survivors have all had their windows replaced but this has altered their character less than other boxes with larger expanses of window and more complicated patterns of glazing. Examples survive at Park South (1883) and St. Bees (1891), the latter in an attractive rural setting is worth consideration [9](for listing)."

The level crossing is controlled by the signalman.


The station is in the centre of the village, and there are three pubs within easy walking distance; one, the Albert, formerly being noted for having warning of the approaching trains rung through from the signalbox in the evening. The station buildings are intact. Considerable re-furbishment took place in 2012 with the erection of new passenger shelters and a "hump" to allow easier access from the "down" platform.

The coming of the railway[edit]

In 1848 Canon Richard Parkinson, Vicar of St Bees and Principal of the Theological College wrote in his diary: "November 8th., 1848. The Railway-whistle heard for the first time in this quiet valley. Its peace is gone!" Later, on 12 February 1849 he records, "Ash Wednesday. Good congregation. The first train of coal wagons on this day (dies cinerum)" [Latin for Day of Ashes] "went on the railway to Braystones".[10] Despite deploring this shattering of the valley's peace, Parkinson travelled on the official train when the line was opened as far as Ravenglass in 1849.

St Bees Golf Halt[edit]

St Bees had for a while the distinction of having two railway stations. The St Bees Golf Halt was provided about a mile south of the village to cater for golfers visiting the old course, which was then between St Bees and Coulderton. As from 7 April 1914 Golfers could halt a train by operation of a signal provided. It was to be "held at 'Danger' by passengers when required".[11] The halt ceased operation in 1918.[12] The Golf course is now on the sea brows adjoining St Bees bay between Seamill and Seacote beaches.


At about 6:45 am on 30 August 2012 a two-carriage passenger train en route to Sellafield was derailed a mile south of St Bees following a landslide caused by heavy rain.[13]

Extensive civil engineering repair work has now been carried out to prevent a recurrence. In addition the underbridge at Seamill Lane was replaced in 2013.


On Monday to Saturdays there is a roughly hourly service (21 trains a day in total) northbound to Carlisle and southbound to Barrow-in-Furness, Lancaster and Preston.

There is no late evening or Sunday service.[14]


  1. ^ Northern Rail timetable, Carlisle to Barrow-in-Furness, 11/12/2011-13/5/2012
  2. ^ Rush, Robert W. (1973). The Furness Railway 1843-1923. The Oakwood Library of Railway History. Lingfield: Oakwood Press. pp. 33–34. OL35. 
  3. ^ Rush 1973, p. 34
  4. ^ Butt, R.V.J. (1995). The Directory of Railway Stations. Yeovil: Patrick Stephens Ltd. p. 202. ISBN 1-85260-508-1. R508. 
  5. ^ The Furness railway - A history, by Michael Andrews. Pub 2012 by Barria books, Barrow.
  6. ^ "100 Years of St Bees", Douglas Sim. 1995, ISBN 0-9526990-0-1
  7. ^ Report of the St Bees PC Chairman 2010-2011, published as an insert in the "St Bees News".
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ Canon Richard Parkinson DD. "In Defence of Keeping a Diary". St Bees Cumbria web site. Retrieved 10 May 2011. 
  11. ^ The Furness Railway - a History. Michael Andrews, pub Barrai Books, Barrow in Furness
  12. ^ "Private and Untimetabled Railway Stations" by G. Croughton and others
  13. ^ "Train derails after hitting landslide". ITV News Border (ITV plc). 30 August 2012. Retrieved 30 August 2012. 
  14. ^ GB eNRT May 2016 Edition, Table 100 (Network Rail)

External links[edit]

Preceding station   National Rail National Rail   Following station
Northern Rail
Mondays-Saturdays only