THE bad publicity attracted by Northern's delays, strikes and cancellations is nothing compared to the row over who should run the railways in Cumbria after the privatisation of British Rail.

Back in 1993 there were public meetings and dire predictions by action groups and trade unions about what might happen in Furness.

The Mail on February 10 noted: "Barrow could be left without its rail links if the Government presses ahead with the planned British Rail privatisation."

Alan Ball, chairman of the Furness Line Action Group said: "Inter City trains would be stopped north of Preston and while they are doing that the Furness Line would lose its late trains and early trains."

The row continued into the following year when a petition of 10,000 names was raised in Furness and South Cumbria by the Grange and South Lakeland Save the Rail Community.

It was handed to Barrow and Furness MP John Hutton outside Barrow's early railway station in St George's Square.

The petition had been started by Furness industrial historian Dr John Marshall.

He said: "There is a danger the line beyond Millom may be put out of business in the end.

"The train is part of Barrow. It helped create its docks and its steel mills.

Mr Hutton said: "The railways have been critically important in shaping the local economy for about 150 years."

The steam-era days when stations like Barrow had a turntable, water tower and dozens of wagons in freight sidings was recalled in many of the layouts on show at the Kendal Model Railway Show.

A dozen layouts, including Scorbiton from the host society, were supported by rail-user and history groups and trade stands.

The 57th model show by Furness Model Railway Club can be seen at Barrow Sixth Form College on October 12 and 13 from 10am to 5pm.

On November 1 in 1989 a new-look Barrow railway station was officially opened by Cumbria county councillor Geoff Whalley and British Rail's provincial manager Mike Anderson.

A total of £97,500 had been spent on automatic entrance doors and a new booking and inquiry office.

The builders were back in 1997 as Railtrack spent £1.5m on refurbishing stations at Barrow, Grange and Cark.

In an article on May 24 The Mail noted: "At Barrow, Railtrack is using contractors to carry out £700,000 worth of work refurbishing or replacing guttering, roof canopies and felt roofing, refurbishing buildings, platforms and the car park and installing new water and heating systems."

It was all a far cry from the pile of shattered stone, twisted metal and broken glass which the Victorian station had been left in after a German air raid in 1941.

A sandstone war memorial in the modern Barrow booking hall still bears the scars of that attack.

In July 1992 six Roose pupils, all finalists in a Barrow Home Safety competition, got to tour Barrow station and the signalbox.

They were Tom Carpenter, Karl Beasley, Andrew Thompson, Gemma Bolam, Elizabeth Bayman and Chris Wilson.

Art came to the station booking hall in 1993 when 10 students from Alfred Barrow School unveiled a mural.

An article in The Mail on October 25 noted: "The design, worked out by the youngsters, was based on the Four Seasons by Japsper Johns, a contemporary American painter."

It noted: "The murals show the four seasons in nature and in the four seasons of life.

"Barrow station approached the school about the project and it was set as part of a GCSE project."

The school's art teacher, Joseph Shortt, said: "We found this project of immense value and the children produced very high quality work."

Getting more people to travel by train was the aim in November 1985 when mayors from Millom, Ulverston, Barrow and Grange got together to promote special return fares from Barrow to Lancaster costing just £1.

In 1988 a pair of 18th century American naval gunners invaded Barrow station off the train from Whitehaven as part of a promotional drive to encourage people to travel on the Cumbrian Coast Railway.

They were re-enacting the raid on Whitehaven by sailors led by John Paul Jones — the founder of the United States' navy.