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Carnforth: engine shed and associated facilities including the locomotive turntable

A Grade II* Listed Building in Carnforth, Lancashire

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Latitude: 54.1311 / 54°7'51"N

Longitude: -2.773 / 2°46'22"W

OS Eastings: 349587

OS Northings: 470855

OS Grid: SD495708

Mapcode National: GBR 9N2N.GW

Mapcode Global: WH83V.CFSD

Plus Code: 9C6V46JG+CR

Entry Name: Carnforth: engine shed and associated facilities including the locomotive turntable

Listing Date: 15 February 1989

Last Amended: 18 August 2015

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1342134

English Heritage Legacy ID: 355232

Location: Carnforth, Lancaster, Lancashire, LA5

County: Lancashire

Civil Parish: Carnforth

Built-Up Area: Carnforth

Traditional County: Lancashire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lancashire

Church of England Parish: Carnforth Christ Church

Church of England Diocese: Blackburn

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Engine shed, and associated facilities, for steam locomotive stabling and servicing. Part of the modernised Motive Power Depot built for the London Midland Scottish Railway in 1938-44, being the last British Rail depot closed to steam locomotives in 1968.


Engine shed for steam locomotive stabling and servicing, 1940-44 for the London Midland Scottish Railway.

MATERIALS: reinforced concrete frame finished in brick; roofs covered with replaced, modern sheet material.
PLAN: Rectangular, six road through-running shed with modern extension to the north. Attached to the east side is a range of original buildings including a machine shop flanked by stores with offices to the south and staff rooms to the north.

EXTERIOR: utilitarian in design with concrete lintels to openings. The shed has raised parapet walls in brick which hide the low-pitched ridge and furrow roof which is part glazed for top lighting. The 6-bay machine shop is brick built and has a gabled roof, the ancillary buildings to the north and south were originally flat roofed but now have modern, shallow pitched lean-to roofs.

INTERIOR: the shed retains standard gauge tracks and full length inspection pits to all six roads, the eastern-most road also having a wheel drop. The machine shop to the east retains its wheel lathe served by a travelling crane which crosses this eastern-most road. At the northern end of the ancillary range is a sand drier and store.

SUBSIDIARY ITEMS: the ash and coal plants, the water tower, and the wagon repair workshop are all separately listed. Directly associated with the engine shed, but not separately listed is the 70 feet diameter (approx 21m), vacuum operated locomotive turntable supplied by Cowans Sheldon of Carlisle. Adjacent to this is a timber shed which is also shown on the 1950 survey plan.


In 1846 the first railway station was opened at Carnforth as a simple wayside halt. By 1880 it had become an important junction between the London and North Western Railway's (LNWR) London to Glasgow main line, the Furness Railway to Furness and the joint Furness Midland Railway to Leeds, with all three railway companies having servicing facilities for their locomotives at the junction. With the formation of the London Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS) in 1923, Carnforth passed into single ownership, remaining an important junction and centre for the servicing and stabling of locomotives. In 1938-44 the LMS, which led the way nationally with improving operational efficiency, modernised the depot to conform to their standard depot layout developed in 1933, designed to efficiently service and stable large numbers of steam locomotives.

Commissioned in 1938, construction of the engine shed was delayed by the Second World War. Although the turntable, coaling and ash plants were operational by April 1940, construction of the engine shed only started in the autumn, being halted soon after the laying of the floor because of a shortage of materials and labour. Construction restarted in 1942, employing Italian prisoners of war from Bela Camp near Milnthorpe as general labourers, with the shed finally opening on 18 December 1944 with an allocation of 46 locomotives. The shed was built on the site of the former Furness Railway engine shed of 1882 which had closed in 1925 and was demolished in 1932. The opening of the new shed then resulted in the closure of the former Midland Railway and LNWR sheds at Carnforth, the latter being demolished. The new shed was initially identified as LMS shed 10, British Rail recoded the shed 11A in 1950, 24L in 1958 and finally as 10A in 1960 by which time it had a staff of 347, 250 being drivers and firemen.

The depot continued in use under British Railways, taking on additional staff and duties through the 1960s with the closures of Lancaster, Oxenholme and Tebay depots. Carnforth was the last Motive Power Depot in the country to close to steam locomotives in August 1968, finally closing to all British Rail traffic in March 1969. However from December 1968, Carnforth became a base for steam locomotive preservation, developing as Steamtown (a museum and steam locomotive restoration facility) and from the late 1990s as the base of West Coast Railways which operates private charter trains hauled by both steam and diesel traction.

Reasons for Listing

The engine shed and associated facilities, including the locomotive turntable at Carnforth, are listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* Efficiency: the London Midland Scottish Railway led the way nationally in improving operating efficiency and developed an ultra-efficient design for their Motive Power Depots, these representing the peak of development for steam traction, the engine shed being the primary component of the depot;
* Rarity: as a nationally rare survival of a large engine shed;
* Design: for the modernist design of the structure and also for the interest of the efficient layout of facilities;
* Subsidiary features: the survival of associated features such as the turntable is particularly notable;
* Group value: the central component of a remarkably complete survival of a steam-age Motive Power Depot.

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