Connel Ferry Bridge

Location type

Bridge

Name and dates

Connel Ferry Bridge (1903-)

Opened on the Ballachulish Branch (Callander and Oban Railway).

Description

Also known as Connel Ferry Viaduct. Bridge is used rather than viaduct as the structure has a long span crossing Loch Etive, and the Falls of Lora, and is not a series of similarly sized arches. The bridge is 'B' listed. The metalwork is painted light grey, the approach arches are granite. The line carried a single track railway.

It is a cantilever bridge with a tower on the north and south banks. Each end is approached by three arch masonry viaducts. The central span is of 524 ft, the overall length 1020 ft, height over high water 54 ft. The engineers were John Wolfe Barry, John Forman, Henry Marc Brunel and George Edward Wilson Cruttwell (resident engineer for Barry). The bridge's metalwork was manufactured at the Germiston Works of Arrol's Bridge and Roof Co - 2600 tons of metal. Construction began in 1898.

The halt North Connel was at the north end and station Connel Ferry nearby the south end. The bridge is close to the south end of the former Ballachulish Branch (Callander and Oban Railway), only a short distance from the junction at Connel Ferry.

Between the opening in 1903 and 1914 the railway company and council could not come to an agreement to share the bridge for road traffic, although after 1909 a railway operated service operated between Connel Ferry and Benderloch stations with cars being carried on flatbed wagons, hauled by a Durham Churchill and Co petrol charabanc with 23 tiered seats (the 'Connel Bus') which was fitted with railway wheels at St Rollox Works. Cars were loaded onto flatbeds at the dock platform at the east end of Connel Ferry station. The same characbanc (or another of the same model) was used between Clarkston station and Eaglesham. Displayed on the sides of the charabanc was 'Caledonian Railway - Rail Motor Service - Connel Ferry & Benderloch'.

The ferry slips were just to the west of the bridge.

After 1914 the bridge opened to toll paying road traffic (taxis were not allowed). Traffic was single file and not allowed when trains were crossing. The railway was slewed to the east and a narrow roadway provided opposite. A level crossing at the north end was required. Gates at either end prevented road vehicles crossing the bridge. A wooden guide strip down the side of the track prevented damage to straying vehicles and the railway.

Following closure of the railway in 1966 the bridge became road only and the toll lifted.

Today the bridge carries a single lane portion of the A828 road, with traffic lights at either end to control the flow of traffic.

Tags

Bridge Cantilever Charabanc Loch Etive

External links

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

Facilities

Listing: B




Nearby stations
North Connel
Connel Ferry
Benderloch
Ach-na-Cloich
Oban
Barcaldine Halt
Taynuilt
Creagan
Appin
Torosay Castle
Falls of Cruachan
Craignure
Duror
Loch Awe
Dalmally
Achaleven Sidings
Glencruitten Crossing
Oban Hills Hydropathic Sanatorium
Tourist/other
Falls of Lora
Connel Airfield
Dunstaffnage Castle
Loch Etive
Tralee Beach
Ardchattan Priory
McCaig's Tower
Dunollie Castle
Oban Distillery
St Columba's Cathedral
Oban War and Peace Museum
Oban North Pier
Location names in dark blue are on the same original line.


Junction at Connel Ferry


The Ballachulish branch junction was intended to be a triangular junction. Although temporary way was laid for the construction of the west to north curve and a bridge erected over a road it never opened to traffic. Branch trains either met main line trains at Connel Ferry or, if from Oban, ran round at Connel Ferry. The never used bridge did earn something, it carried advertising. It was demolished in 2010.


'Level Crossing'


With a gate at either end of the bridge to stop the road traffic the bridge has been referred to as the longest level crossing in Britain.


Dates

01/07/1909Callander and Oban Railway
Charabanc operates over Connel Ferry Bridge; Benderloch and North Connel to Connel Ferry.
22/06/1914Callander and Oban Railway
Connel Ferry Bridge altered for road vehicles and pedestrians.

Books


A Regional History of the Railways of Great Britain: The North of Scotland v. 15 (Regional railway history series)

Birth and Death of a Highland Railway: Ballachulish Line

Callander & Oban Railway Through Time

Callander and Oban Railway (Library of Railway History)

History of the Railways of the Scottish Highlands: Callander and Oban Railway v. 4

The Birth and Death of a Highland Railway: Ballachulish Line

Trossachs and West Highlands: Exploring the Lost Railways (Local History Series)