Moor Row is a residential community situated between Whitehaven and Egremont on Cumbria’s coastal plain. The history of Moor Row goes back to at least 1762, but it was the 19th century discovery of iron ore in the vicinity that built the ‘row of houses on a moor’. Cornish tin miners moved here to work the mines, and their presence is noted in a number of street names such as Penzance Street. One street, Dalzell, is named after Thomas Henry Dalzell, a mine owner.
The village name probably refers to the Scalegill street houses, which are noted on an 1860 Ordnance Survey map. The 1859 homes on Dalzell Street are thought to be the oldest of the terraced rows. The village has grown in the 20th century, adding modern suburban homes to the mixture & is continuing to do so in the 21st century.
Moor Row’s Montreal Mines produced 250,000 tons a year, the largest of any mine in the Whitehaven or Furness district. The mine property covered 1,000 acres (4.0 km2), half of which was ore bearing. Both open pit and shaft mining took place. Between 1000 and 1200 people were employed locally in the industry.
Moor Row formerly had a station on the Whitehaven, Cleator and Egremont Junction Railway. A railway shunting yard was built in the village, bringing further jobs and prosperity to the inhabitants. It became western Cumbria’s most important junction and goods yard until the end of World War II when trucks and the motorways brought about the decline of the railways in the UK. The railway closed in 1980 with the closing of the last mine at Beckermet. The railway is still in situ and runs to Mirehouse Junction. It is also now part of both the national coast to coast walk and cycleway.
The station was valuable to villagers and workmen and as a place to change trains, but Moor Row’s greater railway role was to be the hub of what rapidly became a dense network of primarily industrial lines tapping reserves of stone, coal and, above all, iron ore in what had largely been a thinly populated area with generally modest agricultural potential.
The station opened to passengers on 1 July 1857 as the first stage of the network being developed from Whitehaven through Moor Row where it split, with one branch heading north east to Frizington and the other heading south to Egremont. The route towards Frizington suffered subsidence problems, which were resolved by building two deviations. One was in the Eskett area, the other directly affected Moor Row, with the original line to Cleator Moor being downgraded to goods only when a wholly new line was opened in 1866, turning sharply north just beyond the engine shed, within sight of the eastern end of the station platforms. A new passenger station was opened on the deviation – known locally as “The Bowthorn Line” – which was initially called plain Cleator Moor, but went on to be known as Cleator Moor East. The original and deviation lines parted east of Moor Row station and rejoined at Birks Bridge Junction north east of Cleator Moor village.
Over the next fifteen years both branches were extended: the northeasterly one beyond Frizington to Marron Junction and the southerly one beyond Egremont to Sellafield. At those end points both lines joined other lines with national connections. In traffic terms, even more important than reach was the striking number of quarries, mines and ironworks these lines spawned and tapped.
In July 1879 mineral traffic started on the Cleator and Workington Junction Railway, with a passenger service commencing on 1 October. This line headed north, leaving the Bowthorn Line at Cleator Moor Junction, 49 chains (0.99 km) from Moor Row station. It constituted the third and final route from Moor Row.
Trains were worked by a mixture of Furness Railway and LNWR locomotives.