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Ballachulish Branch

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Ballachulish Branch
(
Callander and Oban Railway) 

This line is closed. The line ran from Connel Ferry to Ballachulish and was built to carry slate away from the Ballachulish Quarries. Today the nearest station is at Connel Ferry.

Survey To be entered
Engineers To be entered
Act 1896
Contractors Robert McAlpine
Opened To be entered
Closed 1966

Callander and Oban RailwayClickable map of the Ballachulish Branch.

Ballachulish
The Town of Ballachulish

Local area 

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This line ran through the western highlands of Scotland. When the line was built the area was remote, but today it is well served by roads, some of which run on the former route of the line.
 

Chronology 

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Description of route 

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From Connel Ferry to Ballachulish with two large bridges; one at Connel Ferry and one at Creagan. Concrete was used in the construction of the line. The line was single track with passing places at station.
 
Connel Ferry

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This was the junction for Ballachulish. The station had 5 platforms; three through platforms and two bay platforms (one at either end). Here trains for Ballachulish, which normally came from Oban, reversed (the locomotive being changed from one end to the other) and ran over the Connel Ferry Bridge to get to North Connel and beyond to Ballachulish. The line to Ballachulish was a branch of the Callander and Oban Railway.

Connel Ferry Bridge

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The Connel Ferry bridge is the second largest cantilever bridge in the world. Beneath the bridge is the Falls of Lora, a tidal phenonmena caused Loch Etive meeting the sea in a narrow channel with a sudden change in depth. A "standing wave" occurs here when the tide is running at its fastest.

A charabanc which formerly operated between Clarkston (on the East Kilbride Line) and Eaglesham was converted to run on rails and operated a service over the bridge for a few years.

For a time the railway ran a car carrying service ran over the bridge and a ramp was built at either end for loading cars. The ramp at the south end remains. Today the bridge here carries only cars. The road is single track and traffic lights control the flow.
 
North Connel

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This was a small station with a timber platform and small timber shed at the north end of the bridge. There had been a ramp here for loading cars onto trains. Today the halt has disappeared due to a re-alignment of the road.
 
Benderloch

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This was a two platform station. The photographs above, taken in 1987, show the platforms. The left hand view looks south to Connel Ferry and the right hand view looks north to Ballachulish. Since the photographs were taken the site has been landscaped and only a small part of one of the platforms can be found in the grit of a carpark.
 
Barcaldine Goods

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This was a goods station to the north of Benderloch. There was a passenger halt built in timber here by a road overbridge.
 
Creagan Viaduct

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Close by the Creagan station was the Creagan viaduct. This viaduct remained in closed condiion for many years after closure, only being used by pedestrians (there had been an official footpath alongside the track). In 1999 or thereabouts the bridge decking was removed, the piers rennovated and a girder road bridge installed. This reduced the road distance between Ballachulish and Oban, the road formerly having to follow a loch inland.

Creagan

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This station had an island platform. The platform and station building remain. Original fencing, the loading bank and part of the water tower remain. The loop at the station was lifted before closure. By the late 1980s the station site was very overgrown but has more recently the scrub has been removed and there is a caravan park here.
 
Appin

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This was a two platform station. The concrete platforms remain with mud where the former trackbed was. Just offshore is a castle on an island.
 
Duror

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This station is now a house. This was a two platform station but the passing loop was lifted before the line's closure.
 
Kentallen

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Kentallen station was by a pier from which a ferry service to Fort William ran. The station site is now a hotel and caravan park. Traces of the platforms remain along with the pier. Inside the hotel the booking platform side of the building can still be found, curiously now inside the building. This was a two platform station.

Ballachulish Ferry

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This was a single platform station with a shelter. The platform remains but the building has gone. The station is to the south of the Ballachulish bridge.
 
Ballachulish

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The closed station building is shown in the photograph top-left. This is now a GPs practise (bottom-left photograph). The track and platforms were to the left, parallel to the road. The station had two platforms. This area is now a housing estate. The locomotive seen in the left photograph has now gone. There is a house which sat at the ends of the platforms, this house still stands and actually pre-dates the railway.

There was a goods line from the station goods yard (to the north of the station) to the Ballachulish slate quarries. These extensive quarries were served by narrow gauge lines.

A distant semaphore signal stands at a church to the west of Ballachulish.


Page created on 27/10/1997
Page last edited on: 07/08/2011
Contact: Ewan Crawford