The Port Carlisle Railway – Part 2

The Dandy!

The featured image at the head of this post was taken on 24th February 2017 at the National Railway Museum in York. The ‘Dandy’ Car was horse-drawn and provided the branch service between Port Carlisle and Drumburgh until 1914 when the service was enhanced and steam-power was used, (c) Glen Bowman (Attribution 2.0 Generic – CC BY 2.0) [1]

The Science Museum, of which the Railway Museum is a constituent part describes the exhibit: “This is one of four horse-drawn Dandy cars built by the North British Railway at its St Margaret’s Works, Edinburgh. The North British Railway, one of Scotland’s major railways, operated the branch extending from Carlisle to Silloth and its sub-branch to Port Carlisle. Freight services on the latter branch were discontinued as early as 1899, but a horse-drawn passenger service instituted in 1863 remained until early 1914, when it was finally superseded by steam.” [2]

After the reintroduction of steam power on the branch line, the “railway company gave the old Dandy coaches to the village. For many years, they served as pavilions for the local bowling green and tennis club. In 1925, there was an exhibition at Darlington to mark the centenary of the world’s first railway there.” [3] The organisers thought that one of the old Dandy cars “would prove a popular exhibit and entered negotiations with the bowling club for its return. Repainted in its original colours, the Dandy took pride of place in the Darlington show. When the exhibition closed, it was taken to Waverley Station in Edinburgh where it remained until it was moved to its present location, the National Railway Museum in York.” [3]

So, where does the name ‘Dandy’ come from?

One possibility is that the ‘Dandy’ on the Port Carlisle branch derived its name from the Dandy Waggons (‘Wagons’ or ‘Carts’) which were used on old waggonways for the carriage of horses. They were “usually used on the down-hill sections of horse-drawn railways and waggonways. George Stephenson is credited for having proposed the idea for dandy wagons, building these carriages for the horses, for use on the Stockton & Darlington Railway, which opened in 1825. [4] However, they were particularly associated with the Ffestiniog Railway where they were in use until 1863. [5]

A Dandy Wagon and a Cauldron from 1825 on the Stockton and Darlington Railway, © National Railway Museum / Science & Society Picture Library. [6]
A drawing from the Stockton and Darlington Railway. (Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic – CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) [4]
A similar Dandy Waggon in use at Throckley Brickworks in 1909. Photographer unknown.

The term Dandy Wagon was also used during the 19th century in the USA to refer to a horse-drawn private buggy. [7]

It might be that the combination of these two ideas resulted in the name ‘Dandy’ being applied to a horse-drawn vehicle particularly on the Port Carlisle Branch. Small two- or four-wheel carts could often be called a ‘Dandy’ as an image search on the internet will illustrate. ….

Various ‘dandy’ carts appear when searched for on the internet. []

None-the-less the term ‘Dandy’ was used for the passenger carrying rolling stock on the Port Carlisle branch. The horse-drawn service was long-lived, lasting from 1863 to 1914, over 50 years in all!

We finish this short article with some photographs and postcards showing the Dandy in operation!

A panorama showing the whole of the Port Carlisle Railway Station, the bowling green and many of the properties that made up the village – and at the centre the horse-drawn Dandy! [11]
The Dandy at Port Carlisle. Photographer unknown – Lancaster University Local History Resources for Schools. [8]
The Dandy at Port Carlisle again. Photographer unknown – Lancaster University Local History Resources for Schools. [8]
The Bygone Cumberland Facebook page carries this picture of the Dandy at Port Carlisle Railway Station in a prominent position. [9]
A postcard image for sale on eBay in May 2022. [10]
This image is valuable in that it shows that there were at least two Dandy carriages in use on the line. [12]
Solway Past and Present says: “On April 4th 1914, the horse-drawn ‘Dandy’ coach made its last trip along the railway line to Port Carlisle. Two days later, steam locomotives were chuffing along the quiet country line for the first time in over fifty years.” [3]


  1.,_York(36243983596).jpg, accessed on 18th May 2022.
  2., accessed on 18th May 2022.
  3., accessed on 18th May 2022.
  4., accessed on 18th May 2022.
  5., accessed on 18th May 2022.
  6., accessed on 18th May 2022.
  7. Franklin Keagy; A History of the Kägy Relationship in America; Harrisburg Pub. Co., 1899, p610.
  8., accessed on 18th May 2022.
  9. The Bygone Cumberland Facebook Group:, accessed on 18th May 2022.
  10., accessed on 18th May 2022.
  11., accessed on 18th May 2022.
  12., accessed on 19th May 2022.

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