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*All Dalton Heritage Trail artworks** including the logo, leaflet, map, signage art, films and photographs are copyrighted to the artist Rachel Capovila and Barrowfull. Permissions are granted for the use of the Dalton Heritage Trail and educational resources relating to the trail ONLY under the administration of DACH. Any other use or reproduction must have permissions from the artist.

**Except where stated and the copyright remains with the named eg photographer or writer.

For centuries iron ore had been extracted from many mines around Furness and especially in the Dalton area. It used to be transported to Ulverston once the canal there was built in 1796 and then out to sea but charges were high and soon it became cheaper to transport the ore to new, small harbour at Barrow. During the early nineteenth century output increased as demand increased with new mining companies springing up throughout the peninsula, even more once a certain Henry Schneider settled here and began to improve the mining methods.

By the middle of the century there were four piers at Barrow for loading the ore [Schneider built the fourth]. Rock Battye, in his book, “Dalton-in-Furness, Medieval Capital to Mining Community”, comments that, “Inevitably, the road to Barrow from the mines around Dalton was becoming extremely congested from the increasing number of ore carts travelling that way.” Certainly Schneider was acutely aware of the transport problems and he, as well as James Walker, President of the Institute of Civil Engineers, prepared a report on the feasibility of a railway to serve both the iron ore mines and the slate quarries of the district. The Furness Railway Bill finally received Royal assent on May 23rd 1844. Dalton was to be on the railway map at last.

Photo: Rail tracks from Bridge – Ron Grierson


In its first ten years there were several accidents with five deaths but the system was underway.  Lines to Kirkby for the slate As well as the iron ore and slate there was soon a call for a passenger service and this came also in 1846 with connections to a steamer from Barrow to Fleetwood, and soon [1854] links northwards to Ulverston, Newby Bridge and Windermere steamers onwards to Ambleside. With the growing awareness of Furness Abbey too, the trains soon became popular tourist routes.

James Ramsden, then only 23, was appointed manager of the engineering department of Furness Railway, and some years later he had made himself indispensable to the extent that a grand house was built for him at a cost of £2000 in the woodland above the Abbey: this became Abbotswood which he rented at a cost of £205 a year. Sir James Ramsden [he was knighted in 1872] lived there until his death in 1896. Sadly, the house was demolished in 1960 but remnants of it can be seen from footpaths in the wood today.

A wooden station was erected at Dalton in 1846 but soon followed by the present structure. It had three platforms and a large goods yard on the south side with weighbridge and coal and cattle wharfs. Jim Walton tells us an interesting tale:

“For many years the only method of crossing from one platform to another was via a wooden level crossing over the rails at the east end of the station, by the present road bridge. However, after an unpleasant accident in the 1970s, when a man paused to pick up a farthing he had dropped on the crossing, and was struck down by a train coasting down the hill from Lindal, thus losing both his legs, the company extended to overbridge and constructed a pedestrian way over the lines.”

The station continued to be improved with a station house and verandah supported by four columns giving shelter to waiting passengers. Later still a booking hall and cast iron canopies were added Daltonians were able to travel to many places in a few hours and they would have been well used to the ore and slate trains bringing prosperity to the town.

In 1859 Schneider, along with others, established the Barrow Ironworks and gradually extended with eighteen Bessemer Converters for steel and production went up from 5000 to 7000 tons a week by 1903. This and extended lines, plus links to boats to Belfast and, in 1871, it was possible to catch the mail train and in 1878 a “lunchtime express” at Dalton all the way to London Euston. These were certainly the “boom years”.

Moving onto the twentieth century things began to change. Mining had passed its peak and some of the local pits and quarries started to close. In 1923, with the re-organisation of the rail network, Furness Railway was subsumed into the new London, Midland and Scottish Railway. Then road travel started to increase. Bus companies set themselves up [small ones sold out to Ribble Motor Services in 1930] in competition with the railways with new routes in the Furness area. Then the Great Depression hit and less and less work was available in the mines, many men moving to the Vickers-Armstrong shipbuilding works in Barrow.

All this led to a reduction in services for the rail network and track layouts were simplified and some signal boxes closed, including the one at Crooklands and later the Dalton box. After World War Two, there were even more closures especially as the ironworks closed in the early 1960s. With more and more freight taking to the roads, the goods facilities at Dalton were demolished and in 1964 the track layout was for just two lines. The canopies were removed in 1976, five years after Dalton Station became unmanned. The toilets were closed and soon the waiting room as well.

As part of the privatisation of the rail network in 1997 small companies ran local train services, companies which changed every now and then. But Dalton station did benefit from some refurbishments. In 2001 a new fence was added and resurfacing and painting improved the appearance. Access to the down platform were allowed via a passageway to Holygate Road but the height of that platform was still a problem with a large drop from the trains there. Since then a raised section of platform has helped to a certain extent but passengers alighting from the north still have to go to the central coach to do so.

Then, in 2009, £27,000 was spent in providing new seating and an attractive entrance archway designed by Chris Brammall of CB Arts in Ulverston.

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About us

Dalton is the ancient and historic capital of Furness and has approximately 8,000 residents at the current time. Ideally located less than thirty miles from the Lake District and close to the Irish Sea coast and nature reserves, Dalton is home to one of the Counties largest tourist attractions, South Lakes Wild Animal Park.