(Glasgow and South Western Railway)
This line is closed. The line is to be
re-opened from Auchinleck to Cronberry and then a section of the Gaswater
branch for coal traffic from an opencast site.
to be partly re-opened
This area is scattered with closed coal mines
and scarred with many coal bings. Many of the mines closed some considerable
time ago and the waste-ground has returned to nature. The area around Gaswater
is currently an opencast as is the Darnconner area.
Description of route
This line was originally single track, but
later doubled due to heavy freight traffic. The line runs from Auchinleck to
Muirkirk via the former mining town of Commondyke (housing mostly long gone)
and the former iron-making town of Lugar (much of the housing gone, and the
This was a west facing junction. There was
a locomotive shed in the 'v' of the junction with the Glasgow,
Paisley, Kilmarnock and Ayr Railway.
Commondyke was a two platform station. There
was a branch to the north, which ran from a very tight east to north curve,
to a series of mines out by Darnconner. There was a village here with long rows
of miners cottages, now gone. The eastbound platform remains along with a recess
for a building. The line was formerly crossed to the east of the station by
a waggonway from the Lugar ironworks running into the Darnconner area for coalmines.
There was a line from a west facing junction to mines to the north, this was
later re-aligned to run directly to the Lugar Ironworks under the main line.
To the north of the station is a memorial (a
cross), by the road. The memorial reads "AT THE DISTANCE OF EIGHT FEET
IN FRONT OF THIS SPOT THE REV SISTER LAURIENNE WAS ACCIDENTALLY KILLED ON THE
8TH DAY OF AUGUST 1888." The driver was Johnnie Goodfellow, a Presbyterian,
who lived in fear of his being de-railed by the Catholics as revenge. The engine
was No. 90 from Muirkirk, a 0-4-0.
This station was provided for the Lugar Ironworks.
The view looks west, a siding ran off to the left by a quarry which is now water-filled.
(To the north was a reservoir for the ironworks). This led to the Lugar Ironworks.
The works were established in the 1840s. These works had a series of tramways
to coalmines by Darnconner in the days before the railway. After closure as
an ironworks (1926) the site was converted into workshops for the many local
coalmines. Lines still ran north to various coalmines, the tracks crossing under
the main line to approach the works. One of the lnes ran up the valley followed
by the Muirkirk Branch, but on the opposite bank of the Bellow Water to a colliery
Cronberry was a two platform station with a
signalbox at its east end to control the junction between the Auchinleck and
The line to Auchinleck came in from the west
(over a viaduct by the village of Cronberry) and the line from Annbank (Ayr
to Mauchline Branch and Associated lines) from the south west. The station
was a little to the east of the junction. The station site was cleared before
closure of the railway. There were coalmines on the Auchinleck route served
by a couple of west facing junctions (two single track lines came off at two
junction immediately after each other and then merged) just to the north of
the houses shown. Level crossing gates remain where these lines crossed the
This served a number of mines by the Gasswater
burn including a Barytes mine also served by a aerial ropeway. The junction
with the main line faced west and trailed in gradually due to a difference in
heights between the two lines. There is an opencast in the area now and the
line is due to open from Auchinleck to a loading pad.
This branch served a pit by the Gasswater burn.
The junction faced west. After closure of the pit, the branch was retained as
a refuge siding for surfacemen's bogies. This led to an accident on 14 December
1867 (when the line was still single) when a mixed Muirkirk-bound train ran
onto the branch and fell through the rotten bridge over the Welltrees Burn.
The points at the junction had been left in the wrong direction. Driver John
Hunter died as a result of his injuries and fireman Blythe was drowned as the
water level rose, despite the best efforts of rescuers, as he was trapped in
This colliery was located to the west of Muirkirk
and was approached by a line which ran from an east facing junction at Muirkirk.
To the south of the main line in the same area were coal mines (some served
by an earlier tramway) which were served by branched from the main line, including
one with an inclined plane and engine house.
This was the original station, located next
to the locomotive shed. The shed was used by visiting Caledonian
Railway engines as well as the Glasgow
and South Western Railway engines. The shed had four roads, later reduced
to two in its last days.
The Muirkirk Ironworks were located at the
end of a branch from Muirkirk (Old) station. The blast furnaces were approached
by a fan-out of rails.The junction with the main line faced west. There were
a couple of associated lines running to coalmines to the south - these may have
belonged to the ironworks or perhaps the Muirkirk Branch (GSW). The course of
these were later used by the Caledonian
Branch and the junction with these lines changed to face east.
The works were opened in 1788 (two years after
the Muirkirk Tar Works where Tar McAdam was invented) as ore, limestone and
coal were all mined locally. A canal ran east from the ironworks to a number
of coalmines. This was later replaced by a private railway which ran east to
Glenbuck. A tramway system appears to have run westwards from the works, replaced
by the railway on its arrival. The works closed in the 1923 following a workers
strike in which the blast furnaces cooled with the iron inside them. The blast
furnaces were not reconditoned as ore had been worked out in the local area
and was proving very expensive to import.
This station was immediately to the south of
the Muirkirk Ironworks and immediately to the east of the original station -
in fact just across the roadbridge from it. There were a couple of lines running
to coalmines to the south - these may have belonged to the ironworks or perhaps
the Muirkirk Branch (GSW). The course of these were later used by the Caledonian
Branch and the junction with these lines changed to face east.
Page created on 20/01/1998
Page last edited on: 30/03/2012
Contact: Ewan Crawford