Silloth seems distant and out-of-the-way but was once a popular destination for Victorian holidaymakers travelling by train from Carlisle and Scotland. The Carlisle and Silloth Bay Railway provided a connection from the east while trains from the north arrived by the Solway Junction Railway, a journey which involved crossing the Firth on the remarkable Solway Viaduct. According to Visit Cumbria: The one mile 176 yard long iron girder viaduct across the water was damaged by an ice build-up in 1875 and again in 1881. It was repaired and continued in use until 1914 for passengers, and until 1921 for freight, and was finally demolished in 1934. Apparently, part of the reason was that Scots, who then had no access to alcohol on Sundays, used to walk across to the more liberal English side, and returning in a less than sober state occasionally fell into the Solway, and were lost.
The well-tended, wide-open park, the grand hotels, the prom, all speak of a bygone prosperity. It was all new to me but the Good Wife holidayed here as a child, staying at her aunt and uncle’s house adjacent to the RAF aerodrome which closed in 1960. We went in search of her memories.
The house is still there and a happy-looking older chap was raking his lawn. This was John, tending his front garden, as he has done these last fifty years. Turns out, he not only remembered Pam’s uncle and his family, having both worked at the aerodrome but, his wife, Irene, went to school with Pam’s cousin. In his day, John was an aero-engineer working on the de Havilland Vampires and Hawker Hunters that chased across the skies of Silloth throughout the post-war years. As he remarked at the end of the conversation, it’s a small world.