The Port Carlisle Railway – Part 3

Towards the end of its life the Port Carlisle Branch was served by two Sentinel Steam Railmotors, ‘Nettle’ and ‘Flower of Yarrow’. The featured image above is part of the Bruce McCartney Collection. It shows a Sentiel Steam Railcar calling at Burgh-by-Sands on a service to Port Carlisle in around 1930. Station Master Walter Tait is posing alongside the railcar on the platform. Bruce McCartney comments: “The Sentinel is thought to be No. 31 ‘Flower of Yarrow’ which was built in 1928 and operated on the Port Carlisle Branch up to the time the branch was closed from Drum burgh in 1932, although, being on the ‘main-line’ Burgh-by-Sands kept going until 1964.” (c) the Bruce McCartney Collection, used by kind permission. [1]

‘Nettle’ and ‘Flower of Yarrow’

After 50 or so years being served by a horse-drawn Dandy. Port Carlisle was given a replacement steam service in 1914. It was envisaged that providing a good reliable service from Carlisle, the village of Port Carlisle would develop as a seaside resort.

In 1914, Port Carlisle was once again given its own steam service to Carlisle. [2]

Sadly the hoped for development did not occur and Port Carlisle remained a backwater, but one with a significant history as a port where ocean-going vessels could dock. For a time it was a ‘ferry’ terminal and a place where goods could be transshipped onto smaller craft heading up the canal to Carlisle. Later the canal was replaced by a railway and for a time a reasonable flow of goods passed through the port. However, by 1863, goods services on the Port Carlisle branch were terminated and for a time passengers were served by a horse-drawn Dandy.

As the early 20th century unfolded the steam service was unable to pay its way and eventually, hoping against hope, that some service could be retained to Port Carlisle steam engines and carriages were replace by a pair of Sentinel Steam Rail Cars, No. 31 ‘Flower of Yarrow’ (Sentinel Diagram No. 96) and No. 35 ‘Nettle’ (originally, LNER No. 2133 – Sentinel Diagram no. 93). [3]

‘Nettle’ was built in 1928 and originally carried the LNER number 2133 which was later changed to 35. ‘Flower of Yarrow’ was a slightly later build by Sentinel and only ever carried the LNER number 31.

‘Nettle’ at Port Carlisle [3][4]
Flower of Yarrow at St. Margaret’s Shed, Edinburgh. [3]
Sentinel Railcar ‘Nettle’ at Carlisle, probably on the service to Port Carlisle. It appears to be running with at least another carriage attached. Photographer not known. [5]
‘Flower of Yarrow’ also at Carlisle. Photographer not known. [6]

These railmotors/railcars saw out the remaining years of the passenger service on the line to Port Carlisle and were moved elsewhere when it closed between Drumburgh and Port Carlisle in 1932.


  1., accessed on 19th May 2022.
  2., accessed on 18th May 2022.
  3., accessed on 19th May 2022.
  4., accessed on 18th May 2022.
  5., accessed on 19th May 2022.
  6. Paul Atterbury; LNER: The London and North Eastern Railway; Shire Publications, Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, Oxford, 2018;, accessed on 19th May 2022.

4 thoughts on “The Port Carlisle Railway – Part 3

  1. owdbob81

    Thanks for this interesting account of a little-known railway. it has a similar history to the Bishops Castle Railway and the Shropshire and Montgomery in my own county of Shropshire.

    1. rogerfarnworth Post author

      Hi, I am gradually becoming familiar with the railways of Shropshire as I have moved to Telford. I have started looking at the old tramroads which served industry in East Shropshire.

  2. Chris

    Roger, thank you. Having walked along the track of the line and canal from Carlisle I am very interested in the last be, especially in this line.

  3. Pingback: The Port Carlisle Railway – – Vintage and Restored trains

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