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Portpatrick Railway

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Introduction
Local area
Chronology
Bibliography

Locations
Castle Douglas
Crossmichael
Parton
New Galloway
Loch Skerrow Halt
Gatehouse of Fleet
Creetown
Palnure
Newton Stewart
Kirkcowan
Glenluce
Challoch Junction
Dunragit
Castle Kennedy
Cairnryan Junction
Stranraer
Stranraer Town
Colfin
Portpatrick
Portpatrick Harbour

This site
Cairnryan Military Railway
Caledonian Railway
Castle Douglas and Dumfries Railway
Girvan and Portpatrick Junction Railway
Glasgow and South Western Railway
Kirkcudbright Railway
London and North Western Railway
Midland Railway
London, Midland and Scottish Railway
Wigtownshire Railway

Other sites
ScotRail


Portpatrick Railway

A section of this line between Challoch Junction and Stranraer remains open and is used by ScotRail to provide services between Glasgow, Ayr and Stranraer (about 4 a day) as well as Kilmarnock and Newcastle (about 2 a day). The bulk of this line is now closed. The line was known by the abbreviations PR and PP&W as well as "The Port Road".

Survey ?
Engineers B & E Blyth
Act 17 August 1857
Contractors McNaughton & Waddell, James Govans, Thomas Mitchell, MacDonald & Grieve, James Mitchell, Thomas Nelson, James Falshaw and Thomas Brassey.
Opened 11 March 1861
Closed 14 June 1965
Castle Douglas and Dumfries Railway Kirkcudbright Railway Portpatrick Portpatrick Harbour Colfin Wigtonshire Railway Girvan and Portpatrick Railway Cairnryan Military Railway Stranraer Town Stranraer Harbour Cairnryan Junction Castle Kennedy Dunragit Challoch Junction Glenluce Kirkcowan Newton Stewart Palnure Creetown Gatehouse of Fleet Loch Skerrow New Galloway Parton Crossmichael
Clickable map of the Portpatrick Railway.

Clickable Schematic of route
[Key]

Local area

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This line runs through an area of low population, high moors and scattered towns, taking a northern route avoiding the towns of Kirkcudbright and Gatehouse of Fleet. The area was crossed by a military road at an early date - Portpatrick being very close to Ireland. Portpatrick proved an unsuitable harbour after the opening of the line and Stranraer became the main port instead. A connecting line to Dalmellington, and the Ayrshire coal, could have run north from Newton Stewart, but was never built.

Many of the road bridges over the line were built to allow doubling of the route - although the Castle Kennedy to Dunragit section was double track (doubled during the Second World War) and the line became double track at Castle Douglas.

Chronology

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Description of route

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53 miles from Castle Douglas to Portpatrick. This line was single track, steeply graded and tightly curved with magnificent viaducts running through moorland and underpopulated districts. Its saving grace was the short sea crossing to Ireland and it carried long distance passenger trains from England to the sea including some troop trains in its last days. For these high speed trains tablet catchers were fitted to both the trains and stations.

Castle Douglas

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Here an 'end-on' junction was made to the existing Castle Douglas station. See the Castle Douglas and Dumfries Railway for information about the station. The Kirkcudbright Railway branched off to the south from an east facing junction immediately west of the station. To the east the line was double track but both the Kirkcudbright line and Portpatrick line were single track.

Crossmichael
Opened:12 March 1861 Closed:14 June 1965
Map
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1956:GPLH

This was a two platform station with a passing loop. At my last visit the station building remained in use as a house along with the two platforms and signalbox. The signalbox is on the south side of the line at the west end.

Parton
Opened:12 March 1861 Closed:14 June 1965
Map
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1956:GPLH

At the time of my last visit this station remained in use as a house. Parton did not have a passing loop but had a goods yard, handling quarried slate, at its east end. The platform was on the north side.

To the west of the station the line crossed Loch Ken on the three bowstring girder Ken Viaduct on approach to New Galloway station.

New Galloway
Opened:12 March 1861 Closed:14 June 1965
Map
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1956:GPFLHC4,0

This station had two platforms, a loop lengthened early in the 1900s and a large goods yard. The signalbox was on the south side of the line. At the time of my last visit the station building had been demolished, the station house remained in use as a house with part of the platforms (trackbed infilled) as a garden and the rest of the platform length and goods yard becoming overgrown. This station was also known as "Mossdale"; the name of the small village it is located in being ~5 miles from New Galloway, 3/4s of an hour away by carriage. The bridge the left photograph was taken from was built after an accident at the former level crossing here. To the west is the four arch bridge over the Black Water of Dee; Loch Stroan Viaduct.

Loch Skerrow Halt
Opened:~ June 1861 Re-named: Lochskerrow 13 June 1955 Closed:9 September 1963
Map
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1956:P*

This was and remains a remote location. This was a passing place on the line and also a stopping point for water. There was a station here with two short concrete platforms used by railway staff and fishermen. The loop remained until closure of the line. The westbound track was the 'straight through' line and the eastbound the loop. By the eastbound line there was a short siding by the watertank, approached from the east. The signalbox was on the south side of the line at the east end of the loop.

At the time of my last visit the two platforms remained, the base of the signalbox could be found, the railway cottages were ruined and the large watertank had been demolished but was still lying flat.

Big Water of Fleet Viaduct

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To the east of Gatehouse of Fleet is Big Water of Fleet Viaduct (20 arch), strengthened with bricks and old rails over 20 years due to heavy railway traffic and still standing. Further east was Little Water of Fleet Viaduct (9 arch), now gone, removed by the Army. Both viaducts were fitted with checkrails.

Gatehouse of Fleet
Opened:September 1861 as Dromore Re-named:Gatehouse 1 July 1863 Re-named:Dromore for Gatehouse 1 June 1865 Re-named:Gatehouse 1 September 1866 Re-named:Dromore 1 June 1871 Re-named:Gatehouse of Fleet 1 January 1912 Closed:5 December 1949 Re-opened:20 May 1950 Closed:14 June 1965
Map
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1956:P*

This station was 7 miles from the town it was meant to serve and at nearly 500ft it was the highest point on the line. The station had two platforms, a passing loop station building (now a house) and signalbox (by the station building, now demolished). There was no goods yard at closure but had a siding from a west facing junction at the east end of the station. Nearby was a railway carriage which had perhaps been a royal saloon of Queen Victoria and became used as a church - it was later destroyed by fire in the 1970s.

Creetown
Opened:12 March 1861 Closed:14 June 1965
Map
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1956:GPFLHC8,0

Creetown was not very convenient for the town it served. At my last visit the station building was being converted into a house. The goods shed and platforms survive. The station had two platforms and a passing loop. The signalbox was on the south side of the line by the goods shed. The station was a mile from Creetown. In February of 1895 a train was held up here by snow for 3 days. To the south of Creetown there were two tramways connecting Kilmabreck Quarry and Bagbie Quarry to piers.

Palnure
Opened:1 July 1861 Closed:7 May 1951
Map
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1956:GLH

Palnure station ceased to be a passing place before closure of the line, the westbound track being lifted. The station had two platforms. The station building is now a house.

Newton Stewart
Opened:12 March 1861 Closed:14 June 1965
Map
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1956:GPFLHC7,0
Schematic map of Newton Stewart station.

The site of the station has been redeveloped and is now an industrial estate.

To the west of the station was Newton Stewart West signalbox (on the north side of the line) controlled the west end of the loop, east facing junction for the Wigtownshire Railway and locomotive shed (in the 'V' of the junction and closed in 1959). The locomotive shed remains in a caravan site. The station had three platforms - a westbound platform and an island platform for branch trains and eastbound trains. The goods yard was located to the north of the station and accessed from the west. To the east of the station was Newton Stewart East signalbox (on the north side of the line). Platform paving slabs from Portpatrick Harbour station were used to extend the platforms on the harbour station's closure.

There was an isolated siding, Carty Siding, half way between Newton Stewart and Palnure - the junction facing east.

Kirkcowan
Opened:12 March 1861 Closed:14 June 1965
Map
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1956:GPFLHC1,0

This was a two platform station with passing loop. The signalbox was on the south side of the line. There had been a road bridge at the east end of the station but this has been demolished and the road leveled.

Glenluce
Opened:12 March 1861 Closed:14 June 1965
Map
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1956:GPFLHC1,0

This was a two platform station with passing loop. The signalbox was on the north side of the line. The site has been cleared. To the west is the 8 arch Glenluce Viaduct. To the east was the Glenjorrie Quarry with a siding connecting to the line at an east facing junction.

Challoch Junction
Map
46.54 miles from Dumfries
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This was a west facing junction between the lines to Dumfries (the Portpatrick Railway, now closed) and Ayr (the Girvan and Portpatrick Junction Railway, still open). The signalbox here (which was to the south of the junction) was closed in 1939 and replaced with motor points controlled from Dunragit. In 1906 there was some form of loop and siding on the Girvan line by the junction. There was a sand-drag (north of the track) and east-facing points on the Dumfries route, just to the east of the junction, a similar sand-drag existed on the Girvan route. There may have been a Challoch Junction Golfers Platform just to the east of the sand-drag.

Dunragit
Opened:1 July 1861 Closed:14 June 1965
Map
47.72 miles from Dumfries
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1956:GPFLHC1,10

Today Dunragit is the site of a passing loop, signalbox and former station platform. The signalbox is located on the south side of the line and to the east of a level crossing, the former station located to the west side. A station building still stands in use as a house. There was a goods yard and private sidings at both the west end (gravel pit?) and east end (Dunragit Creamery). The line from here to Castle Kennedy was formerly double track, being doubled in the Second World War.

Castle Kennedy
Opened:1 July 1861 Closed:14 June 1965
Map
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1956:GPLH

Castle Kennedy station is now in use as a house and closed to passengers and freight. Formerly it was a two platform station with a goods yard. Originally the line was single track, but a loop was opened here as a direct result of the opening of the Girvan and Portpatrick Railway. To the west the line was single, but from here to Dunragit the line was doubled during the Second World War. There was a private siding to the west. The signalbox was incorporated into the station building on the north side of the line.

Cairnryan Junction
Map
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This was the east facing junction one mile east of Stranraer Harbour Junction for the Cairnryan Military Port and Cairnryan Military Railway. The signalbox at Cairnryan Junction was opened on 11 10 1942. It was standard timber Glasgow and South Western Railway style and located to the south of the junction. It remained standing in 1965 but is long gone now, the trackbed at the junction being overgrown.

Stranraer Harbour
Opened:1 October 1862 Closed:No
Map
53.79 miles from Dumfries
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1956:GPFLHC5,0

Stranraer Harbour station is located on Loch Ryan. From here boats operate to Larne in Ireland. The station is fairly sizable and has a large signalbox (east side of the station). In recent years a remodelling has altered the station and a short bay platform on the west side of the station removed. Two central tracks in the station were used for both stabling carriages and unloading cars from motorail trains - these no longer run. A long siding runs south from the station which was also used for motorail trains. In the 1960s there were two long sidings here for stock stabling. The station was opened in 1862 and the station and pier were extended in 1878, 1898, 1904 and 1939. The station may also once again be relocated.

Stranraer Town
Opened:12 March 1861 as Stranraer Re-named:Stranraer Town 2 March 1953 Closed:7 March 1966
Map
53.39 miles from Dumfries
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1956:GPFLHC5,0

Stranraer Town station is closed to passengers. It is open to freight (it is an EWS depot), but has seen little use in recent years. I have been told that British Rail became greedy and priced itself out of the Irish freight traffic - whatever the truth little freight runs today and the many sidings are now partly grass covered. In happier days in the 1980s the sidings were full of motorail wagons, rakes of carriages, spare engines and an 08 shunter. The Stockton Haulage depot to the east of the station was served by rail.

Before 1966 this was the main Stranraer station. It was a through station for Portpatrick and had a bay platform facing east. There was signalbox at its east end (to the south of the running lines). A further larger signalbox, Stranraer Harbour Junction (to the north of the running lines, the junction itself facing east), sat further east and controlled the lines to (from north to south) the harbour, engine sheds, goods yard, station and stabling sidings. There were some stabling sidings where Stockton haulage is today and these passed under a roadbridge at the east end of the site - passing under a plate bridge which must date from after the original opening of the line, the original line passing under an older stone bridge.

Trains to Glasgow were known as "The Irishman" and trains to Carlisle were "The Paddy".

There were a number of engine sheds at the station due to the uneasy relationship between the Caledonian Railway and Glasgow and South Western Railway who both operated from the station. From north to south these were; the Caledonian shed, erecting shop (used for building engines as well as maintenance over the years), Girvan shed and joint shed. All of these sheds were two track except the Girvan shed.

Today the westbound platform of the station remains intact, the sidings remain intact, the goods shed (used in the 1980s by the maintenance trolley) and the engine sheds are now within the confines of a scrap yard.

Colfin
Opened:28 August 1862 Closed:6 February 1950
Map
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1956:G*P+L

Colfin station had a single platform. Due to the Colfin Creamery the line between Colfin and Stranraer remained open after the closure of the route between Portpatrick and Stranraer to passengers.

Portpatrick
Opened:28 August 1862 Closed:6 February 1950
Map
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The line entered Portpatrick by running high on cliffs above the sea and then swinging inland to a terminus. For trains leaving the terminus there was a tight curve and 1 in 57 incline on which some engines stalled. The station had a single platform station with a passing loop, signalbox (later relocated to Barrhill) and engine shed (out of use by 1905 and remained in use as a store until derelict in the 1940s). The station site became a camping and caravan ground but has now been built over with new housing and gardens.

Portpatrick Harbour
Opened:11 September 1868 Closed:November 1868
Map
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The harbour station was approached by a steeply graded 1 in 35 branch. It was reached by reversing at the Portpatrick station and train lengths were limited to only 4 wagons. For a short while 'packet' (mail) boats operated from here to Donaghadee in Ireland but Portpatrick was an unsuitable harbour, despite having much money invested in improvements, and the route was changed to run from Stranraer to Larne. Track of the branch remained in situ until 1885/1886.

Parts of a bridge over the main road remain today.

Larne Harbour
Map
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This is what it was all about : the crossing to Northern Ireland. Larne is the terminus of a line which runs from Belfast to Larne via Carrickfergus.

Bibliography

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A Gazetteer of the Railway contractors and Engineers of Scotland
Vol 1; 1831-1870
L Popplewell ISBN 0 906637 14 7
A Regional History of the Railways of Great Britain
Volume 6; Scotland; The Lowlands and the Borders.
J Thomas ISBN 0 946537 12 7
Directory of British Signal Boxes
Vol 2; Constituents of the LMS
J Hinson The Signal box
Dumfries and Galloway's Lost Railways G Stansfield ISBN 1 84033 057 0
Handbook of Stations British Transport Commission
Landranger Map 82 Ordnance Survey ISBN 0 319 22082 6
Landranger Map 83 Ordnance Survey ISBN 0 319 22083 4
Landranger Map 77 Ordnance Survey ISBN 0 319 22398 1
Landranger Map 84 Ordnance Survey ISBN 0 319 22084 2
Legends of the Glasgow and South Western Railway in LMS Days DL Smith ISBN 0 7153 7981 X
LMS Engine Sheds
Vol 7; The Glasgow and South Western Railway
C Hawkins, G Reeve and J Stevenson ISBN 1 871608 10 4
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
Tales of the Glasgow and South Western Railway DL Smith
The Directory of Railway Stations RVJ Butt ISBN 1 85260 508 1
The London and North Western Railway MC Reed ISBN 0 906899 66 4
The Lost Railway Lines of Galloway A Wham ISBN 1 872350 96 8
The Railways of Scotland Vol 12 CineRail

Page created on 11/03/1997
Page last edited on: 02/04/2012
Contact: Ewan Crawford