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Girvan and Portpatrick Junction Railway

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Introduction
Local area
Chronology

Locations
Girvan Junction
Girvan (New) 
Pinmore Tunnel 
Pinmore 
Pinwherry 
Barrhill 
Glenwhilly 
New Luce 
Challoch Junction 

This site
Glasgow and South Western Railway
Maybole and Girvan Railway
Portpatrick Railway

Other sites
ScotRail


Girvan and Portpatrick Junction Railway 

This line is open. The line is used by ScotRail to provide a service between Ayr and Stranraer. Services start from Glasgow (running down via Kilwinning) or Newcastle (running via Carlisle, Dumfries, Kilmarnock and Ayr). Much freight was carried until the early 1990s.

Survey To be entered
Engineers John Millar, Blyth, Edward LJ Blyth
Act 1865
Contractors Abraham Pilling
Opened 3 10 1870
Closed No
Portpatrick Railway Maybole and Girvan Railway Maidens and Dunure Railway Girvan Pinmore Pinwherry barrhill Glenwhilly New Luce Clickable map of the Girvan and Portpatrick Railway

Local area

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This line runs uphill from Girvan, a fishing village, to the hills inland from Ballantrae to Barrhill where the countryside changes from arable land to upland sheepfarming land the line crossing moorland before dropping down to a much lower level near Stranraer. The area has a low population and the main road route follows the coastline between Girvan and Stranraer. Offshire from Girvan is the famous island of Ailsa Craig.

Chronology

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Description of route

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The line runs from Girvan to Challoch Junction a few miles east of Stranraer. The line takes an inland route, thus avoiding the rough terrain around the coast and sadly leaving Ballantrae without access to the railways. The line still required very heavy engineering; apart from Pinmore tunnel there are a number of large viaducts. Heading south from Girvan the line climbs steeply to Pinmore tunnel after which it runs along uneven ground to Barrhill. A feature of the line here is the "Swan's Neck" where the line forms an 'S' curve which is sufficiently tight that the curve can be seen from the train window before reaching it. Finally the line runs downhill to Challoch Junction where it joins the closed Port Road route.

Girvan Junction

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At this point the Givan and Portpatrick Railway left the route of the Maybole and Girvan Railway. The original terminus was left as a short branch, with a branch of its own to Girvan harbour. To the North of the junction the Maidens and Dunure Railway branched off. The old station was given over to freight and the locomotive shed. The condition of the bridge on this short line led to its closure in the 1980s. 

Girvan (New)
Opened:5 October 1877 as Girvan New Closed:7 February 1882 Re-opened:1 August 1883 Closed:12 April 1886 Re-opened:18 June 1886 Closed:2 September 1886 Re-opened:14 July 1890 Re-named:Girvan 1 April 1893
Map
0.15 Miles from Girvan Junction
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1956:GPFLHC3,0

The original station here was very spartan, only having one platform. The station was re-built with two platforms by the Glagow and South Western Railway after 1892. The station building dates from the 1920s. The line was formerly double track from Girvan to Ayr and single from Girvan to the south. Today the line running north has been singled from Girvan Junction to Dalrymple Junction on the former Ayr and Dalmellington Railway. Although Girvan (New) is indicated to have had goods facilities these were located at Girvan (Old) station.

Today the main building, although slightly cut back, remains, along with both through platforms (although the bay platform at the south end has been out of use for a number of years) and the signal box (south end, west side, platform extended by it in timber) is intact. On my last visit the loop was out of use due to the decline in traffic. There is a short refuge siding by the signalbox.

"Last of the Mohicans" the driver of the 101 DMU commented in early 1988, the 101s, (which operated the Ayr to Girvan service) were due to be replaced by class 156 'Sprinters' in a few weeks. The class 47 hauled passenger trains from Glasgow to Stranraer were also replaced with Sprinters. The Sprinters didn't like the curves south of Girvan at first and I recall them screeching their way up to Pinmore.

Pinmore Tunnel
Map
4.07 to 4.27 Miles from Girvan Junction
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This tunnel is approached from the north by the severe Glendoune bank from Girvan. Pinmore station was slightly to the south of the tunnel. The tunnel is 543 yard long.

Pinmore
Opened:5 October 1877 Closed:7 February 1882 Re-opened:16 February 1882 Closed:12 April 1886 Re-opened:14 June 1886 Closed:6 September 1965
Map
5 Miles from Girvan Junction
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1956:GPLH

This station is closed and the station building is now in use as a dwelling house. The station had one platform (east side) a passing loop, a goods yard (west side, approached from the north) and high signalbox (north end of loop, over looking the roadbridge and on the east side).

Just to the south of the former station is the impressive stone 11 arch Kinclair/Kinclaer viaduct on a gentle curve.

Pinwherry
Opened:5 October 1877 Closed:7 February 1882 Re-opened:16 February 1882 Closed:12 April 1886 Re-opened:14 June 1886 Closed:6 September 1965
Map
8.28 Miles from Girvan Junction
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1956:GPFLHC1,10

The station building here is now in use as a house, the station is closed. The station had two platforms. There was a goods yard at the station, to the south and east side of the line. Connections could be made by road to Ballantrae on the coast.

The signalman at this station had trained his dog to collect the hooped tablet to and from train drivers whilst he stayed in the signal box operating the levers. This practice was also used on the Wemyss Bay railway line at Dunrod. 

The loop and signalbox (west side of line) here were closed in 1992 following the withdrawl of freight. This surely defies logic as the line's capacity has been much reduced and it's ability to handle broken-down trains hampered.  Since the freight withdrawl I have seen track maintenance trains take refuge here on a number of occasions; this is no longer possible. True, the remaining line from Girvan station to Glenwhilly loop has two sections of near equal length, but the northern section (Girvan loop to Barrhill loop) is severe.

The photograph shows the north end of Pinwherry loop, a northbound freight train de-railed into the field beyond the track in 1928 having passed through the station at speed.

Barrhill
Opened:5 October 1877 Closed:7 February 1882 Re-opened:16 February 1882 Closed:12 April 1886 Re-opened:14 June 1886
Map
12.35 Miles from Girvan Junction
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1956:GPLH2,0

This station is still open. The station stands on high ground about 1/2 mile from Barrhill. There is a very 'olde-world' feel to the station, but all is not as it appears. The original signal box burnt down in 1935 (located further north than the current box) and was replaced by the current box which was brought from Portpatrick. In some respects the signal box is redundant as the levers are repeated in the station building where the tablet machines are located. The stationmaster/signalman need not leave the snug office until a train arrvies when they must exchange tokens. There was a large water tank at the south end of this station, on the east side of the track. The main station building and signalbox are on the southbound platform, a pleasant timber waiting room exists on the northbound platform.

The summit of the line is to the south of the station at Chirmorie (16.50 miles from Girvan Junction).

Glenwhilly
Opened:5 October 1877 Closed:7 February 1882 Re-opened:16 February 1882 Closed:12 April 1886 Re-opened:14 June 1886 Closed:6 September 1965
Map
20.70 Miles from Girvan Junction
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1956:GPLH

Glenwhilly station is closed and the station building has been demolished (in the 1970s?). The signal box, a siding, and loop still remain along with the up platform. This loop is located in the wilder area south of Barrhill. The loop is approached by a single track road and then a dirt track. A feature of this box has been a signalman who arrives by motorbike over the moor roads. This must be a bleak place to work on a damp and cold winter's day. A short refuge siding exists here to the north, on the east side. It is approached from the south.

New Luce
Opened:5 October 1877 Closed:7 February 1882 Re-opened:16 February 1882 Closed:12 April 1886 Re-opened:14 June 1886 Closed:6 September 1965
Map
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1956:GPLH1,0

The station here has been completely demolished as shown in the photograph. The view looks north towards Girvan. The station had a passing loop and two staggered platforms, the northbound built in timber, the other in stone. The station was demolished in 1971.

Challoch Junction

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The Girvan and Portpatrick Railway joined the Portpatrick Railway here. The junction faced Stranraer, but the Port Road is now closed. There was a sand-drag (to the north of the track) with catchpoints at a junction facing east. Please see the Portpatrick Railway entry for this junction.

Bibliography

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A Regional History of the Railways of Great Britain
Volume 6; Scotland; The Lowlands and the Borders.
J Thomas ISBN 0 946537 12 7
Handbook of Stations British Transport Commission
National Atlas Showing Canals, Navigable Rivers, Mineral Tramroads, Railways and Street Tramways
Volume 1b; Southern Scotland
GL Crowther ISBN 1 85615 212 X
Railway Track Diagrams
Vol 1; Scotland and the Isle of Man
Quail Map Company ISBN 0 900609 95 8
The Directory of Railway Stations RVJ Butt ISBN 1 85260 508 1
The Girvan and Portpatrick Junction Railway CEJ Fryer ISBN 0 85361 448 2
The Railways of Scotland Vol 12 CineRail

Page created on 11/03/1997
Page last edited on: 11/03/2012
Contact: Ewan Crawford