Monday, 12 May 2008

Ruswarp His Story

The Story of the heroic Collie dog Ruswarp, his owner and the saving of a railway line....

In the 1980's Britain's most scenic railway line, the Settle to Carlisle, was under threat of almost certain closure. Among the people who formed the group that was to save the Settle - Carlisle railway line was Graham Nuttall a very modest Lancashire man who shared with a growing number of people a sense of outrage that the S&C seemed condemned.

He became the first Secretary of the Friends of the Settle - Carlisle Line.

Graham and his faithful Border Collie dog Ruswarp were inseparable. Ruswarp's paw print had the distinction of being the only canine signature of objection to the line's closure. He was deemed to be a 'fare paying passenger' about to suffer 'hardship' should the line close.

On 20th January 1990 Graham went missing. He and Ruswarp bought day return tickets from Burnley to Llandrindod Wells (in Wales), there to go walking in the Welsh Mountains. But Graham never returned. Neighbours raised the alarm. Searches by police and mountain rescue teams in the Elan Valley and Rhayader found nothing. Then on 7th April 1990, a lone walker found Graham's body, by a mountain stream. Nearby was Ruswarp, so weak that the 14 year old dog had to be carried off the mountain. He had stayed with his master's body for eleven winter weeks.

Ruswarp was cared for by a local vet--fees paid by the RSPCA, who quickly decided to award Ruswarp their Animal Medallion and collar for 'vigilance' and their Animal Plaque for 'intelligence and courage'. Ruswarp lived just long enough to attend Graham's funeral. An eye-witness at the funeral gives this account:

"The elderly couple who had Ruswarp in their care sat at the front and, as ever on public occasions, Ruswarp sat patiently and slilently throughout the service, but as the curtains closed on the coffin there was a long low muffled howl. It was uncanny, Ruswarp's farewell. I shall never forget this..."
(from The Westmorland Gazette, April 25, 2008, courtesy of Francis Pritchard, Hon. Treasurer, Friends of the Settle-Carlisle Line)