Penrith Station

by Cecilia McCabe

Penrith Station © Cecilia McCabe

Penrith station has changed little since its opening on 17 December 1846, but its ownership has changed many times. It was built by the Lancaster and Carlisle Railway,  then became part of the London and North West Railway, often nicknamed ‘The Premier Line’ in the heyday of Steam. 

After grouping in 1923 it became part of the London Midland and Scottish Railway; then after WW2 with the nationalisation of the railways it was owned by British Rail. Privatisation followed in 1994 with Network Rail being formed to own the tracks and stations. The management of the station is by the company owning the West Coast main line franchise, currently, March 2023,  Avanti.

Opened as ‘Penrith’, the station was renamed ‘Penrith for Ullswater Lake in 1904. The station's name reverted to the original ‘Penrith’ on 6 May 1974.  It has since been renamed ‘Penrith North Lakes on 18 May 2003

The station was designed by Sir William Tite, designer of a number of early railway stations in Britain during the construction of the Lancaster and Carlisle line (see other article Penrith and the railways). It is recorded in the National Heritage List for England as a designated Grade II listed building.

Penrith Station © Cecilia McCabe

In the early days transporting freight was the objective; then adventurous tourism was encouraged by Thomas Cook.  In the 19th  and early 20th century trains ran in summer from as far afield as Sunderland and Saltburn for daytrips to Penrith, where they were met with specially laid on buses to take them to the Ullswater Steamers.

The station was the last in the United Kingdom where mail was collected by a moving train, the practice finally coming to an end on 3 October 1971. Local people remember a mechanical arm extending out at Yanwath to pick up the mail as the train passed by.

The railways prospered for well over 100 years. Until the 1950s there were four different lines coming into Penrith:

The Eden Valley line closed to passenger traffic in 1962

The Stainmore Line completely closed in 1962

The Keswick Line closed on 6 March 1972

Today it is only the West Coast main line that runs through the station offering services to  London EustonEdinburgh Waverley, Glasgow Central and Manchester Airport.


Penrith Through Time (Dr Bryan Lindley and Dr Judith Heyworth)

An Introduction to Cumbrian Railways by David Joy 

by Cecilia McCabe Friends of the Ullswater Way, Charity No. 1185056

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