Fort William [1st]: A late 1960s view of Fort William's then-classic lochside location. Opened by the West Highland Railway in 1894, the entire rail presence in this view was swept aside to accommodate the road builders, and the station was relocated in 1975 to an altogether more mundane location half a mile to the north east.
Frank Spaven Collection (Courtesy David Spaven) //

Fort William [1st]

Location type


Name and dates

Fort William [1st] (1894-1975)

Note: text in square brackets is added for clarity and was not part of the location's name.

Opened on the West Highland Railway.


This was a three platform terminus alongside the seafront and steamer pier in Fort William. It was replaced by Fort William when the line was cut back in 1975. Nothing remains of the station and the site is now a dual carriageway. It is ironic that the townsfolk were disappointed the railway separated the town from the beach and now a substantial road does.

The station had a very fine building with an attractive entrance hall featuring a 'lunette' window over the entrance, which could seen seen from the entrance hall. A fine feature of the building was a crenellated tower on the seaward side of the building. Styling was different to the other stations of the line and were subtly contemporary. The platforms were canopied. Its loss is a great pity.

There was a signal box at the north end, on the east (land) side of the line, and there was a pedestrian level crossing alongside the box to the shoreline. The box opened with the line and closed when taken over by Mallaig Junction just before station closure.

The line approached the station from the north east, running along the reclaimed foreshore.

The railway continued past the station along the shore line to a headshunt Fort William Headshunt quite a distance to the south, roughly now the location of the town waterside car park, where there was a run round loop. This head shunt was cut back to closer to the station. The line terminated next to the southern of the two town piers.

Fort William Pier, where connecting steamers formerly called, still exists. It was at the south end of the building by the exit from the circulating area of the station. This pier was rebuilt and enlarged for the opening of the railway. The station courtyard, in addition to having the pier, was also where connecting buses would park.

Station Square also still exists, which led down to the station and pier from Gordon Square and the High Street.


The 'Station Hotel', above the former station, is now the Highland Hotel .



External links

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


All Stations to Mallaig!: West Highland Line Since Nationalisation
Argyll and the Highlands Last Days of Steam

Argyll and the Highlands' Lost Railways

Ben Nevis and Fort William, The Mamores and The Grey Corries, Kinlochleven and Spean Bridge (OS Explorer Map)

History of the Railways of the Scottish Highlands: West Highland Railway v. 1

History of the Railways of the Scottish Highlands: West Highland Railway v. 1

Iron Road to the Isles: A Travellers and Tourist Guide to the West Highland Lines

Iron Roads to the Isles: A Travellers and Tourists Souvenir Guide to the West Highland Lines

Mountain Moor and Loch on the Route of the West Highland Railway

On West Highland Lines

Railway World Special: West Highland Lines

Rannan Rathad Iarainn nan Eilean =: The West Highland Line

Road To The Isles Dvd: Part One The West Highland Line Between Crianlarich to Fort William, From the Drivers Cab Of A Class 37, With The Caledonian Sleeper
The Mallaig Railway: The West Highland Extension 1897-1901 (RCAHMS Broadsheet)
The New Railway: The Earliest Years of the West Highland Line

The Story of the West Highland

The Story of the West Highland: The 1940s LNER Guide to the Line

The West Highland Railway

The West Highland Railway (Railways of the Scottish Highlands)

The West Highland Railway 120 Years

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

Victorian Travel on the West Highland Line: By Mountain, Moor and Loch in 1894

Walks from the West Highland Railway (Cicerone Guide)

West Highland Line: Great Railway Journeys Through Time

West Highland Railway
West Highland Railway (History of the Railways of the Scottish Highlands v. 1): West Highland Railway v. 1
West Highland Railway: Plans, Poltics and People