A History of Britain’s Railways

Largs Branch

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Largs Branch
(Glasgow and South Western Railway)

This line is open. The station at Largs, which was demolished by a run-away train, has been re-built.

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Clickable map of the Largs Branch

Largs, before the goods-shed was demolished.

Local area 


This line runs down the coast of the First of Clyde from Largs to Ardrossan. Largs, Fairlie and West Kilbride are small coastal towns with summer tourists. Ardrossan is more of a working town with ferries to Arran, the Isle of Man and former industry such as a Bitumen works. Largs has a ferry to the Great Cumbrae.



The line was opened after the Ardrossan Railway by the Glasgow and South Western Railway.

Description of route 


The line, formerly double track throughout, runs from Largs to Ardrossan. The line runs single track from Largs to Hunterston Junction. From Hunterston Junction to Saltcoats the former northbound track is used by passenger trains to and from Largs and northbound freight trains, the former southbound track only used by southbound freight trains from the Hunterston terminal. There is a depot for Nuclear Flasks at Fairlie.

Castlehill Junction


The Largs Branch joined the Ardrossan Railway at a west facing junction just east of Ardrossan Town station. The line from here to Parkhouse Junction is lifted.

Holm Junction  


Here the Largs Branch joins the Ardrossan Railway at an east facing junction just west of Ardrossan South Beach station. Here there was also a link to Ardossan Motive Power Depot now closed. A reversing spur runs out to the location of the depot.

Ardrossan Motive Power Depot


This steam depot is closed. It was within the triangle of lines between Castlehill, Holm and Parkhouse Junction and was approached from Parkhouse and Holm junctions.

Parkhouse Junction


Two forks, one from Castlehill Junction (lifted) and one from Holm Junction joined here at a north facing junction. There was also a connection to Ardrossan Motive Power Depot.

West Kilbride 


This station is still open. The station building still stands. There was a very tall signalbox at the north end of the station. There was a goods yard to the north of the station and west of the line, served by a junction with the main line which faced north. The southbound platform has been removed and the former northbound platform is served by trains in both direction. The other track is used by trains from the Hunterston terminal.

Hunterston Ore Terminal


This terminal has both a high and low level. Both are served by railways from Hunterston Junction to the south of the site. One line climbs slightly to the east above the main line to the Hunterston Ore Terminal bunkers. This was operated in connection with the Ravenscraig Steelworks and actually had two bunkers; one for coal and one for ore. The low level line drops to the west of the main line to the former Ore Reduction Plant sidings. The plant has been dismantled and sold abroad since the closure of the terminal to steelworks traffic.

The terminal is now in use as a coal import terminal.



This station is still open. It was previosly called Fairlie High. The size of the tunnel to the north of this station may be the cause for the singling of the line from Hunterston Junction to Largs.

Note: Fairlie Low


No evidence can be found for a station at the north end of Fairlie Tunnel.

Fairlie Pier


This was a terminus (from a south facing junction on the main line) and a pier for ferries. There was a locomotive shed here.

Formerly an MOD pier just to the north was rail served. Sheds and the pier still stand and rails are embedded into hard standing, but the lines are no longer connected to the Largs Branch.



Station overall roof destroyed (and subsequently removed) by train crash.

Page created on 20/01/1998
Page last edited on: 17/03/2012
Contact: Ewan Crawford