Category Archives: the other stuff

The Ghosts of Culloden……….

…………………270 years ago todayHighland 1Highland 2Can you hear them, can you see them
Marching proudly across the moor,
Hear the wind blow thru the drifting snow,
Tell me can you see them, the ghosts of Culloden.

cullodenCameronThru the mist you’ll hear – a lonely piper play,
Listen carefully – you’ll hear – a mournful cry,
Swords and bayonets crash – as man to man they clash,
They came to fight to live – and now they die.

Did Robert Stevenson predict the 2016 Farnley landslide as early as 1828?

This post is completely unrelated to skeletal genetics, but is never-the-less a good message from the past; but will we learn?

Having regularly walked past these areas over the last few weeks it comes as no surprise to me that there has been several landslides, and interestingly, it will come as no surprise to Robert Stevenson either……….

Robert Stevenson

Robert Stevenson (1803-1859), Railway Engineer


In November and December 2015 and January 2016 there has been major landslides in the Farnley area; namely Farnley Scar on the river bank and the south side of the train cutting opposite from Farnley Haughs.Farnley Map

Map showing the Farnley region and the site of the two landslides

Franley Haughs

The ever expanding landslide next the railway cutting at FarnleyFarnley Scar

The top and bottom of Farnley Scar

but wait………..

During the reading of the Bill in 1829 to grant permission to build the Newcastle to Carlisle Railway, Robert Stevenson the renowned Railway Engineer was called before both the Commons and  the House of Lords.

At this time Robert Stevenson was a witness against the Bill and during cross examination by Mr Adams of the Railway Company he gave the following answers:-

Adams: Did you examine the nature of the soil?

Stevenson: I did in some places; I examined it at Wylam Scars, at Ellringham Scars, at Riding Burn, and at Farnley Scars.

Adams: You state that at Farnley Scars, Mr Thompson’s allowance for the slopes is not sufficient; did you look yourself at that part of the bank that lies near the river?

Stevenson: Yes, I know the bank perfectly.

Adams: Does not that stand?

Stevenson: No it is falling every day

Adams: How often have you been there to see that it is falling every day?

Stevenson: I heard it was giving way

And most crucially……..

Adams: Will you undertake to say that it was giving way to any degree that is the least material?

Stevenson: I say that if an excavation were made through that hill it would give way

Adams: What is the nature of the soil at Farnley Scars?

Stevenson: It is a loose gravel mixed with clay. I give that opinion from report

[From “The Newcastle and Carlisle Railway” by John S MacLean. Published by R Robinson & Co Ltd; 1st Edition edition (1948)]

Passing of the Bill

The Bill had a smooth passage through the Lords and received the Royal Assent on May 22nd 1829.

A Tunnel was built at Farnley that can be clearly seen on a 1863-1869 map

Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust; (c) Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust; (c) Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Farnley Map

Farnley Scar Tunnel was originally built to accommodate a single line, however, a section of the Tunnel gave way on 28th December 1844 during widening work for double track operation. It had opened nine years earlier after more than one million bricks had been laid. A further £1,000-worth of repairs were ordered in 1871 when an inspection uncovered weaknesses.

This chequered history led to the tunnel’s eventual abandonment. Between November 1959 and June 1962 a deviation line was laid through a new cutting under the instruction of Arthur Dean, then Chief Civil Engineer of British Rail’s North Eastern Region.

Farnley Scar TunnelFarnley Scar Tunnel was taken out of service on 27th May 1962. Plans to backfill it were recently abandoned by Network Rail on the grounds of cost.

[Information from]

So what would Robert Stevenson have thought……Stevenson thought

Enough said really………

and despite the recent terracing of the embankment…………….photo 1photo 2photo 3Untitledphoto[1]

It’s 18.46 pm and they are still working in the rain under floodlights to build a temporary road to the landslide  – (hard) hats off to those lads!photo 1

Nearly there now

photo 2