Thomas the Tank Engine Wikia
Thomas the Tank Engine Wikia

The Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway is a 7 mile-long 15" gauge railway and is the basis for the Arlesdale Railway. The railway starts off in Ravenglass on the Cumbrian Coast where it is connected to the main line. From Ravenglass, the railway goes downhill passing the River Mite until it reaches Muncaster Mill, where the line goes uphill along a ledge until it reaches Irton Road. From Irton Road, the line goes downhill again until it reaches Eskdale Green and then it climbs uphill until it reaches the terminus at Dalegarth. At Ravenglass and Dalegarth, there is a turntable for the locomotives whilst at Ravenglass, there is the engine sheds, carriage sheds, workshops and a public house called "The Ratty Arms", which is housed in the station building on the mainline platform. Also, at Ravenglass, there are two standard gauge coaches, which have been converted into holiday homes.


The Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway opened on 24th May 1875, its purpose being to ferry iron ore from workings near Boot to the coast at Ravenglass. On 20th November 1876 the first passengers were carried. Built to a gauge of 3 feet (910mm), problems soon arose relating to the iron ore and the line was declared bankrupt as early as 1877. The line finally closed in 1913.

Unused for two years, in 1915 the miniature railway engineer W. J. Bassett-Lowke and his friend R. Proctor-Mitchell, (representing Narrow Gauge Railways Ltd) acquired the line as a base for testing their little locomotives under fairly harsh operating conditions. By 1916 the re-gauged track (15"/381mm) ran as far as Irton Road, while during the following year the miniature trains were running the full length of the line.

Quarrying recommenced on the line near Beckfoot and granite blocks were transported to Murthwaite, where they were crushed for use mainly as road stone and railway ballast. By 1946 ownership had transferred to the Keswick Granite Company, who decided in 1953 to cease quarrying operations. With the exception of the war years passenger traffic continued throughout.

However, in 1958 and again in 1959 the line and fittings were offered for sale but, without any serious potential purchaser, it was announced that the 1960 season would be the last. The railway was to be sold by auction in September. The Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway Preservation Society was formed by enthusiasts but hopes were not high. Fortunately, two interested parties, (Colin Gilbert, a Midlands stockbroker and Sir Wavell Wakefield, a local landowner) stepped in on the day of the auction with the balance of the purchase price.

In 1968 the railway moved on, becoming an integral part of the Wakefield family business in the Lake District. Much work had already been done to catch up with the backlog of maintenance, new coaches had been built and the Preservation Society had funded the building of a new locomotive, the River Mite. Further major works continued, with Ravenglass station being re-modelled and a further locomotive, Northern Rock was built in the company's workshops, entering service in 1976.

In 2005 work started on the building of a new station and visitor centre at the Dalegarth terminus. The building was officially opened by Pete Waterman in April 2007.

Locomotives in service

Name RWS counterpart No. Notes Photo
River Irt
Originally built as a tank engine.
River Esk
River Mite
The locomotive is named after the river in Cumbria, originally a steam powered tender.
Originally built as a passenger tractor
Northern Rock
Originally to be named Sir Arthur Heywood, after an early innovator of the 15 inch gauge railway who supplied 3 of the locomotives from the railway's early days, including the tank engine that was converted into River Irt.
Blister I and Blister II
Named after former company employee, Cyril Holland.
Shelagh of Eskdale
Sigrid of Arlesdale
Lady Wakefield
Lad Wakefield0668.JPG
Douglas Ferreira
ICL 11
Named after the longest serving General Manager of the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway.


  • The railway held Day Out with Thomas events until 2007, when their license was revoked by HiT Entertainment. In addition to dressing up their engines like their Arlesdale counterparts, an engine named "Wroxham Broad" would be dressed up as Thomas. Days Out with Thomas was meant to return in October 2020 [1] but the event was cancelled or postponed because of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
  • The railway features in a Mr. Perkins' Railway segment.


External Links

* RWS only | ** T&F only
Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway
River IrtRiver EskRiver MiteNorthern RockPerkinsCyrilShelagh of EskdaleDouglas FerreiraLady Wakefield