US Naval Base 17 (1918-1919)
Opened on the US Naval Base 17 Railway.
This base was established in the Great War at the Dalmore Distillery, west of Invergordon. Distilleries had been closed by a wartime order. New buildings were laid out to the south of the distillery and its warehousing. The base was operated by the United States. Mines were assembled for use in the minefield laid between the north of Scotland and Norway, the Northern Barrage. Another similar base, US Naval Base 18, also assembled mine and was located near Inverness.
The base was at the western end of the military zone created when the Grand Fleet was based at Scapa Flow and a large ship repair facility established at Invergordon.
For the mines traffic the base was chiefly served by a new railway from Belleport Junction, from which trains reversed to reach the base. Assembled mines were then taken east to Invergordon Harbour. Alness station was used as a marshalling yard for this traffic, with as many as six trains being accommodated at the same time.
The mines were shipped across from the United States, transferred to trains at Kyle of Lochalsh, and brought across to the base. For this traffic the former Dingwall and Skye Railway, and its Kyle of Lochalsh extension, were taken over by the Admiralty, only one civilian train being allowed per day. That line was upgraded with the addition of a passing loop at Loan Crossing.
The 1918 wartime railway which was accessed from Belleport Junction ran to the south side of the Dalmore Distillery site. There were 78 acres of sidings at Dalmore. Near Belleport it had a second route, known as the Shore or Relief line, which ran alongside the roadway to Invergordon Harbour. This kept the live mines off the main line. The connections to the public railway were at the Invergordon Harbour and Belleport Junction, the system being military. Dalmore Pier, to the south of Dalmore Distillery, was not completed until after Armistice and the quaysides at Invergordon were used for outbound mines heading to the minefield.
Track for the lines was provided by dismantling the Buckie and Portessie Branch (Highland Railway), closed as a wartime economy in 1915.
This new line was built because the original Dalmore Distillery branch terminated at a high level above the distillery on high ground.
Mines were transferred to the base in an inert state. These were armed at the base before being moved to the quaysides.
Dalmore Distillery was also the site of an Admiralty machine shop of 1916 which prepared armour plating plate, following the battle of Jutland, to be fitted to naval vessels at Invergordon Harbour.
The base and military railways were dispensed with once the minefield had been dismantled, after the Armistice. The distillery was returned to its owners and returned to production. The upgraded harbour facilities remained.
Other railway and industry locations
US Naval Base 17
Highland Agriculture Works [Invergordon]
Invergordon Admiralty Pier
|Location names in dark blue are on the same original line.|