Balloch Pier

Location type

Station


Name and dates

Balloch Pier (1850-1986)

Opened on the Caledonian and Dumbartonshire Junction Railway.

Opened on the Dumbarton and Balloch Joint Railway (Caledonian Railway, Lanarkshire and Dumbartonshire Railway and North British Railway Joint).


Description

This was a two platform station, an island platform with a long face which ran onto the pier and a shorter bay platform on the west side. Passenger steamers called on the west side of the pier.

The pier is on the west side of the River Leven where it flows out of Loch Lomond.

Railway owned steamers ran from the pier on Loch Lomond to Balmaha, Luss, Rowardennan, Tarbet Pier, Inversnaid Pier, Ardlui and other piers on the loch.

The PS Maid of the Loch was assembled here from components manufactured at the Pointhouse Shipbuilding Yard by Inglis.

The original station was minimal. It was also known as 'Wharf'. The double track line terminated out on the pier with a loop on the east side and station building on the west side, the ferry side of the pier. The north end of the pier was equipped with a crane.

The Caledonian and Dumbartonshire Junction Railway became part of the Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway in 1862 and the North British Railway in 1865. Neither company invested much to improve the terminus, although a signal box opened in 1888 on the east side of the line and south of the station.

In 1896 the North British Railway was obliged to allow the line from Dumbarton Central to become jointly owned or the Caledonian Railway would build a second line in the Vale of Leven to Balloch (initially promoted locally to break the North British control of all traffic as the Dumbarton, Jamestown and Loch Lomond Railway this would have run up the east side of the river to Aber Bay near Gartocharn). The traffic would probably not be sufficient for two lines. The Dumbarton and Balloch Joint Railway (Caledonian Railway, Lanarkshire and Dumbartonshire Railway and North British Railway Joint) was created.

With joint ownership the station and line were improved. Steamer operations became jointly operated too with existing steamers being repainted in the new livery. A larger station building, largely in timber and with a canopy, was built and a second platform, a bay on the west side, added. To the south a turntable which could be accessed from the pier station or Balloch Central was added. There was a rudimentary shed at that station and full goods facilities.

In addition in 1902 a new steam winch operated slip was added to the west of the pier. This slip was served by a siding on the west side of the railway. The PS Maid of the Loch was assembled here and launched in 1953.

Oil was delivered to the pierhead for steamer use.

Around the 1930s the Loch Lomond Factory (Silk Dyeing) was opened to the south of the station, on the west side. It was reached by reversal from the station.

In 1960 the line was electrified. The signal box closed, replaced by the new box at Balloch Central. The bay was taken out of use. The station building was replaced with a rather grim waiting shelter further south. Timber portions of the pier were removed.

The Maid ceased running in 1981 (she was to remain tied up and deteriorating until serious preservation attempts began in 1995). Even before this not all services ran through to the pier. Alloa Breweries had taken over operations on the loch and felt the Maid was too large, so for 1982 the MV Countess of Breadalbane was taken by road to Balloch and renamed MV Countess Fiona. She would tie up alongside the Maid, using her as a pier extension.

The pier train service lasted until 1986. Latterly the track layout was a little eccentric. The northbound platform at Balloch Central ran through to the pier but the southbound platform had a buffer fixed just north of the platform end. On the east side a siding ran from the south end of the pier (having been cut back a few years before to more solid ground) and ran down the east side without making a connection and terminating behind the southbound platform.

The track was lifted as far as the south end of Balloch Central in 1988, allowing construction of the new Balloch station on the lifted line. The remaining line serving Balloch Central's southbound platform was lifted shortly afterwards. The catenary was re-used to electrify Sunnyside Junction to Whifflet South Junction.

MV Countess Fiona ceased running at the end of the season in 1989. After lying out of the water for years, vandals released her on the slipway and broke her back and she was cut up in 1999.

The station site was cleared in the 1990s.

The pier, slip and slip engine house remain. A short section of the platform and small station building also remain. Much of the station site is now a car park.

Local

The PS Maid of the Loch , which formerly plied the loch and is planned to do so again, is at Balloch Pier.

Lomond Shores is to the west of the former station.

Sea Life is also to the south of the station by Lomond Shores.

A proposal to relocate the Isle of Mull Railway here between the pier and Balloch station was unsuccessful.

Aber Bay, the proposed pier on Loch Lomond of the Dumbarton, Jamestown and Loch Lomond Railway is now the Loch Lomond Nature Reserve .

02/10/2019

Tags

Station terminus

External links

Canmore site record
NLS Collection OS map of 1892-1914
NLS Collection OS map of 1944-67
NLS Map
NLS Map
NLS Map
NLS Map