IT is now 50 years since the end of steam power playing a regular part in the running of Cumbria's railways.

Steam's farewell ceremony took place in the county, thanks to a train for fans called the 15 Guinea Special on August 11 in 1968.

The last passenger train on the main line gained its name as that was the price of the tickets - 15 guines is £15.75.

This two-way trip went from Liverpool to Manchester and and across the Settle and Carlisle Line to Carlisle's Citadel Station.

The special service was pulled on the outward leg a Class Five locomotive and then by the Pacific-class Oliver Cromwell. Class Five locomotives provided the power for the return leg

The ordinary business of moving goods by steam had ended in Furness a few days earlier.

The front page of The Mail on Saturday, August 3, in 1968, noted: "Train spotters from all over the North-West were in strategic positions all along the Barrow-Carnforth line today waiting for a glimpse of the last working steam train on that run.

"Carrying mixed freight, the 5342 left Carnforth for Barrow at 6.20am and made the return journey from Barrow at 8.55am.

"A British Rail spokesman said this was the last working steam train to go through Barrow station: 'The last steam train in this area is the 14.55 Heysham to Carnforth this afternoon'.

"Steam enthusiasts with books, cameras and tape recorders were there to record the occasion."

It was a time of great change for staff.

The men who fired the steam locomotives sought other roles, many going into the construction industry in an era when new roads and housing estates were being planned.

In 1969 the first three guards were trained as conductor guards in Cumbria and would move along carriages to check tickets, in addition to their normal duties.

Among our picture shows, from left, traveling ticket inspectors James Brerton and Eric Fletcher, Bill Atkinson who was in charge of the training, James Graham, Alexander Johnstone and James Turner.

This change was necessary as most of the village and small town stations had lost all their staff.

It wasn't just steam power which was subjected to the axe of modernisation in the 1960s - Cumbria almost lost most of its railway service.

The British Railways Board, led by Dr Richard Beeching, came up with a 1963 report called The Reshaping of British Railways.

It quickly became known as the Beeching Report and called for the closure of 2,363 British stations and halts and the scrapping of 5,000 miles of track.

Carlisle, Whitehaven, Workington and Barrow were to keep their stations but the branch line from Ulverston to Lakeside was shut.

Several other stations - such as Millom, Kirkby, Silecroft, Bootle, Ravenglass, Seascale, Sellafield, St Bees and Corkickle - were to go with the withdrawal of all service on the Cumbria coast line between Barrow and Whitehaven.

Thankfully, this line was saved - largely due to the growing importance of the nuclear industry.

With the end of steam there was a race against time by individuals and groups of enthusiasts to save as many locomotives as possible.

British Railways had drawn up a list of 71 historic locomotives to be saved for museums - including Furness Railways Number 3, known as Coppernob, which was at Barrow railway station until 1941 and is now in the York National Railway Museum.

The rest were consigned to scrap yards where around 1,300 were salvaged for restoration to be used on more than 100 railway lines run by preservation groups.

The switch to diesel locomotives or services with overhead electricity supplies was called for by a £1.5bn modernisation scheme drawn up in 1955.

By March 1960 the last steam locomotive was built at Swindon - called Evening Star.

It had an expected working life of 30 years but was withdrawn from service in 1965.