Monthly Archives: October 2020

Co. Donegal Railways, Ireland – Part 6 – Strabane to Letterkenny (Part C – Convoy to Letterkenny)

As we noted at the start of the two previous articles about this line, Wikipedia gives us a very short history of the line from Strabane to Letterkenny and provides a single image – the Railway Clearing House map with stations in Strabane and Letterkenny:

The Railway Clearing House map with stations in Strabane and Letterkenny. [3]

This series of articles seeks to expand our understanding of the route of the various Co. Donegal Railways through combining old images and modern views. Satellite images also give us a good understanding of what remains of the infrastructure of these lines.

The previous articles about this line which cover the length from Strabane to Convoy can be found by following these links:

https://rogerfarnworth.com/2020/07/27/co-donegal-railways-ireland-part-4-strabane-to-letterkenny-part-a-strabane-to-raphoe

https://rogerfarnworth.com/2020/10/05/co-donegal-railways-ireland-part-5-strabane-to-letterkenny-part-b-raphoe-to-convoy

A Journey Along the Line – Strabane to Letterkenny – Part C – Convoy to Letterkenny

We return to Convoy Railway Station which sits to the East of the Village. While we are waiting for our train, a railcar from Letterkenny stops at the station.

Convoy Railway Station in 1959 (c) Roger Joanes, (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) Railcar No. 20 from Letterkenny stops at Convoy. [14]

I have found two further pictures of Convoy Railway Station and its site in Anthony Burges’ book, ‘The Swilly and The Wee Donegal’. Both of these photos were taken in 1957 and were either taken by the author or are from his collection. [8: p34 and 35]

The second photograph [8: p35] shows the goods shed, water tower and a number of sidings. Only the goods shed was standing in 2010 when Google Streetview cameras visited the site.

Convoy Railway Station Goods Shed is shown to the right of center in this image taken in 2010 (Google Streetview).

The line out of Convoy Railway station travelling to the West crossed the R236 at a shallow angle protected by Crossing Gates. The Crossing keeper’s cottage (or Gatehouse) is still standing. It has been extended to better be used as a modern family home.

The Gatehouse and the road crossing to the West of Convoy Railway Station. The photograph looks from the Northeast, (Google Streetview).

The Gatehouse guards the route of the old railway which ran just to the right of it in this picture. The image looks from the West back along the old line. (Google Streetview).

The next image shows the centre of Convoy on a Google Maps satellite image. The approximate route of the old railway is shown as a red line running across the image.

The approximate route of the old line through Convoy (Google Maps) The location of the Gatehouse is marked close to the centre of the image. To the West, the line passed under the two bridges which I have numbered 1 and 2 in black type. Clicking on the image will enlarge it sufficiently to allow these locations to be identified easily.

Shortly after crossing the R236, trains passed under the first of two road-over-rail bridges in Convoy. This bridge carried the Letterkenny Road. The railway cutting has been filled-in and there is no evidence of the bridge in the early 21st century.

The old railway cutting has been infilled and to the West of the location of the bridge it is now used as a car park for one of the local churches. It is shown here in 2010, (Google Streetview).

This image is one taken by Kerry Doherty and kindly sent by him to me by email. It shows the same location in the years following the Google Streetview image. [6]

A short distance further along the line a bridge carried a lane heading Northwest from Convoy towards Falmore.

This first view shows the bridge parapet on the East side of the bridge in January 2010 (Google Streetview). The parapet is in a very poor condition.

This later view, a picture taken by Kerry Doherty, shows that some local pride has resulted, more recently in a cosmetic refurbishment of the old parapet. [6]

To the West of the old bridge the cutting is still infilled and no sign of a bridge parapet can be found.

Looking West along the line of the old railway from the road to Falmore in 2010, (Google Streetview).

Heading away from Convoy the line quickly turned to the North as shown on the next satellite image. It soon crossed the road to Falmore once again, this time at level. The Gatehouse for this road-crossing is indicated on the satellite image and can be seen in the Google Streetview image which follows.

The old line to the West of Convoy, (Google Maps).

Kelly’s Gatehouse on the road to Falmore. The line ran to the right of the cottage in this image, (Google Streetview).

The line now heads in a northerly direction as the satellite images show.

The first length to the North of the Gatehouse on the road between Convoy and Falmore, (Google Maps).

The second length north of the road, (Google Maps).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The line continued in a northerly direction passing over the Cloghcore to Cornagilagh road, (Google Maps).

 

Further North, the line crossed the road from Cloghcore to Cornagilagh. Either side of this road the line was on an embankment which has now been removed but the bridge which carried it over the road is still in place – an elegant small stone arch bridge bears excellent testimony to the route of the old railway. The location of the old bridge is at the point where the line (red) crossed the road (light blue) in the bottom left of the adjacent satellite image.

Photographs of this bridge follow below. Two of which are taken from Google Streetview and one sent to me in an email by Kerry Doherty. The light in his photograph shows the bridge at its best.

Very soon after crossing this bridge, trains entered Cornagillagh Halt which was only a short distance from the hamlet/village which bears the same name.

The rail-over-road bridge on the …. road. This image shows the bridge from the Southwest in March 2011, (Google Streetview).

The same bridge also viewed in March 2011 from the Northeast (Google Streetview).

A much more recent picture taken of the same bridge by Kerry Doherty. [6] Kerry comments: ‘The over bridge just before Cornagillagh halt. The embankment at either side has been taken away but the bridge has been kept..’

The next length of the old line is featured in this satellite image which shows it passing in cutting under two road bridges marked ‘3’ and ‘4’ either side of and close to Cornagillagh Halt, (Google Maps).

The road-over-rail bridge close to Cornagillagh halt is marked on the Google Maps image as No. ‘3’. The vertical alignment of the road gives away the bridge location. The image is a telephoto lens view because of a slight glitch in the Google Streetview image sequence close to the bridge. This picture was taken from the Southeast in December 2009 in what looks like late afternoon sunshine, (Google Streetview). This image shows the same bridge (No. ‘3’) from the Northwest just a few weeks after the image which precedes it. The road alignment changes at the bridge and on this image it is easier to see the bridge parapets,(Google Streetview).

The next few photographs come from the location of the road-over-rail bridge that I have marked ‘4’ on the satellite image. All of them were taken as part of Google’s survey in March 2011.

Bridge numbered ‘4’ viewed looking North along the road, (Google Streetview)

Then same bridge but viewed from the North on the same day, (Google Streetview).

This picture shows the formation of the old railway between the bridge numbered ‘3’ by me and bridge ‘4’, (Google Streetview).

Looking to the Northeast, the formation of the Strabane and Letterkenny Railway has been overtaken by small trees and shrubs. (Google Streetview).

Kerry Doherty comments that this is a view of the bridge close to the site of Cornagillagh Halt (now impossible to photograph as its so overgrown). Pictured is former railcar driver Michael Gallen (recently dec’d, and one of the very last railcar drivers). The picture comes was taken by Dave Bell and comes from the CDR visitors guide book. [6][4]

The old railway route begins to turn North again soon after passing under the road-bridge and heads for Glenmaquin (Glerundorum) station.

Beyond the road-bridge the old formation turns to the North once again, (Google Maps).

The line South of Gerundoram Railway Station. The location of the station can still be picked out at the top of this satellite image, (Google Maps).

The adjacent satellite image shows the route of the old line to the South of Glenmaquin (Glerundorum) Station. The first location to note is the at-level crossing of a local road towards the bottom of the image. The gatehouse can be picked out just to the West of the route of the old line.

The Gatehouse (N0. 57) has been extended to make it suitable as a small modern dwelling. and pictures from Google Streetview show it in really good condition with well-tended gardens.

The line shows up as a tree-lined track crossing the road at this point. The third image below is the closest that Google Streetview gets to providing a view along the length of the line North of the Level-Crossing towards Glenmaquin Railway Station.

 

The old line passes to the East of the old crossing cottage (No. 57) which has been refurbished and extended, (Google Streetview). This view is taken looking from the Northwest across the line of the old railway which ran on the far side of the crossing cottage.This view shows the same location but from the road to the Southeast of the Railway Crossing. The line ran in front of the cottage in this view, (Google Streetview).Looking North along the old railway from the Crossing-keepers cottage, (Google Streetview).

A short distance further North trains entered Glenmaquin (Glerundorum) Station, shown here on the old GSGS mapping from the 1940s. …Glenmaquin (Glerundorum) Station was location close to a road junction and was framed by a road-over-rail bridge to its Northwest. [2]

Kerry Doherty has kindly provided a view across the old station site which was taken in the early 21st century.

The old station site taken from the fields to the Northwest, (c) Kerry Doherty. [6] The old platform is still clearly visible in this photograph.

Google Streetview shows that the space between the railway station and the road-over bridge is, in the 21st century, filled by a modern home. That property sits just out of view to the left of Kerry Doherty’s picture above.Glenmaquin Station, (Google Streetview).The road bridge just North of the Station, (Google Streetview).A much earlier view of Glenmaquin Railway Station which comes from the Dave Bell collection, taken from the CDR visitors guide book. Kerry Doherty’. [6]

The continues in cutting North of the road bridge at Glenmaquin Station.Cutting to the North of Glenmaquin Station. This photograph was taken from the road bridge, (c) Kerry Doherty. [6] Just out of sight the railway bridged a small river.

Beyond Glemaquin Station, the old line continued heading Northwest, (Google Maps).

After crossing another minor road the old track-bed curved round towards the Northeast, (Google Maps).

The road crossing visible at the bottom right of the satellite image immediately above was ungated. A closer image o the crossing location is provided immediately below this text. The Google Streetview images here show an extended property based on a typical Gate-keeper’s Cottage. This location is not recorded in the Visitor’s Guide {4} as a Crossing with Gatehouse. Interestly the cottage is sited out of alignment with the railway as the satellite image below shows.Ungated Crossing Northwest of Glenmaquin Railway Station, (Google Maps)

These next few images are taken at the location above – all are from Google Streetview. This may well be the location of Gatehouse No. 58.

The distinctive form of a Gatehouse is visible in this photograph which is taken looking from the North, (Google Streetview).Still looking from the North, this view shows the line of the old railway. The garage to the left of the road is built over the old formation, (Google Streetview).This view shows the old formation beyond the road-crossing and is taken from close to the property in the earlier images above, (Google Streetview).

We noted in the satellite images above that, to the Northwest of the road crossing, the old line turn round to the Northeast.The next length of the line as shown on the GSGS mapping from the 1940s. [7]

We pick it up again in the next satellite image on the left. The track follows a sinuous course over the next kilometre or so, as can be seen on the next satellite image below.

These two image show the line passing under the road from Listillion to Lyons Court and then crossing the road between Listillion and Drumerdagh at Gatehouse No. 59. Kerry Doherty comments that the first of these two locations is a “bridge now filled in and the road re-aligned.” He provides two photographs from that location:

At this location the old road has been realigned when the bridge over the railway cutting was filled in. Both photographs were taken by Kerry Doherty, (c) Kerry Doherty [6]

A close-up Satellite image shows the old road alignment across the bridge. ….

The next feature along the line is Gatehouse No. 59 which is shown on the second of the two adjacent satellite images above.

Another extract from the GSGS Maps of the 1940s shows the length of the old line to the South of Gatehouse 59. [9]

Gatehouse 59 is at the bottom of this enlarged extract from Google’s satellite imagery, (Google Maps).

Beyond the infilled road bridge, the formation of the old line snaked northwards before reaching Gatehouse 59. Both the GSGS map and the satellite image above show that route. Gatehouse 59. The adjacent enlarged satellite image shows the location of Gatehouse 59 just to the North of the road at the bottom of the image.

The first Streetview image below shows the Gatehouse from the South. It is followed by a short series of views mainly from Google Streetview of the same Gatehouse. One image was generously provided by Kerry Doherty.

As the adjacent satellite image shows the old railway continued North from the location of Gatehouse No. 59. A modern bungalow and farm building straddles the old line and before it runs at the back of the gardens of a further two properties.

The first satellite image below show the route of the old railway as it begins to approach Letterkenny. After continuing North for a short distance the line turned sharply to the West running to the Suth side of what is today the N13/N14 dual carriageway and the L1114 local road.

Gatehouse 59 seen from the road immediately to the South, (Google Streetview).Gatehouse 59 seen from the road junction to the East of the location in 2011, (Google Streetview).A telephoto view of the Gatehouse taken more recently from the same position, (c) Kerry Doherty. [6]Gatehouse No. 59 seen from the Northeast, (Google Streetview).

The Strabane and Letterkenny Railway turned sharply to the left a short distance beyond Gatehouse No. 59, (Google Maps). The route is highlighted by a linear woodland which appears once the buildings close to the Gatehouse have been passed.

The old line was initially on a small embankment to the North of Gatehouse No. 59, but by the time it stared to curve to the West is was in cutting. Its route is now a linear woodland, as the satellite image above shows. I am really grateful to Kerry Doherty who visited this location on my behalf in October 2020. The next few images are taken by him.This picture is taken from the old track-bed looking towards the bridge, (c) Kerry Doherty. [6] The old formation can be seen curving to the left in this image. This is one of the more substantial structures along the length of the Strabane to Letterkenny Railway.Looking back to the South from the 3-arch Bridge, (c) Kerry Doherty. [6]The substantial stone parapets belie the use of the over bridge which carries no more thana local track, (c) Kerry Doherty. [6]Looking ahead towards Letterkenny from the track carried by the old bridge, (c) Kerry Doherty. [6]Looking back towards the bridge from the old railway formation, (c) Kerry Doherty. [6]The structure still retains its old number – 279! (c) Kerry Doherty. [6]

Beyond structure No. 279 the old railway continued to curve round to a westerly direction and still in cutting encountered another road over rail bridge. The location of that bridge is to the right of the satellite image below.The Eastern outskirts of Letterkenny with the route of the Strabane & Letterkenny Railway highlighted in red, (Google Maps). 

The cutting at the Eastern side of the satellite image above has been partially infilled but the old bridge still has a void underneath it. Although the bridge is clearly of an age commensurate with having been built at the same time as the line, it does not appear on the 1940s GSGS map below.GSGS 1940s Map of the Strabane and Letterkenny Railway on its early approaches to Letterkenny. At the western extremity of the map extract the point where the line begins to run immediately parallel to the Londonderry & Lough Swilly Railway can just be seen. [10]

Kerry Doherty commented that the filling of the cutting seems to have cut off drainage runs and as a result there is a small body of water in the cutting. This does not show up on the pictures below.

 

The old railway cutting with the bridge just visible in the distance (Google Streetview)The bridge. This Google image shows the void underneath the structure. It is taken from the road which runs alongside the cutting (on its North side) for a short distance, (Google Streetview)This is Kerry Doherty’s photo of the bridge taken from the South side of the railway cutting in October 2020, (c) Kerry Doherty. [6]This view shows the overgrown cutting looking back towards Strabane from the bridge above, (c) Kerry Doherty. [6]Finally at this location, another of Kerry Doherty’s photographs. This shows the route of the old railway taken from over the bridge parapet and looks towards Gatehouse 60 and Letterkenny, (c) Kerry Doherty. [6]Looking back along the route of the old line towards the two bridges shown above, (Google Streetview).A View from the old main road South showing the route of the old line as it crossed the road and a much extended Gatehouse 60 which appears to make an excellent private home, (Google Streetview). There is little sign here of the main N13 road which runs behind the trees which are just beyond property.Google Maps shows how close the Gatehouse No. 60 is to the new N13 road,(Google Maps).This view is taken from the N13 looking back along the old railway alignment towards Strabane. Gatehouse No. 60 can just be made out among the trees, (Google Streetview).Looking across the N13 and on along the route of the old line towards Gatehouse 61 and Letterkenny, (Google Streetview).

Beyond Gatehouse No. 60, the railway curved round from a Southwesterly trajectory towards the North before crossing the modern day L1114. On the way it crossed a single track lane by means of a bridge.The locations of a bridge and Crossing No. 61, (Google Maps)

Reaching the L1114 (at Bonagee Lane) the old railway was now running roughly North/South. The picture below shows the approximate alignment of the old railway where it crossed the L1114. A bungalow has now been built over the formation and there seems to be no evidence of Gatehouse No. 61.The approximate route of the old railway where it crossed the L1114. A bungalow has now been built over the formation and there seems to be no evidence of Gatehouse No. 61, (Google Streetview).

North of the L1114 the railway alignment is not obvious. It ran 50 metres or so to the East of Bonagee Lane until that lane turned from the North to the Northeast in Bonagee where Gatehouse No. 62 was sited. The crossing was known as Baird’s Crossing and the Keeper’s house can still be seen beyond the railway. It is heavily screened by trees and shrubs but can be seen from the Northeast, as the second image immediately below this text shows.The location of Gatehouse No. 62. the red line is a very approximate representation of the route of the old railway at this point, (Google Streetview).Baird’s Crossing Cottage (Gatehouse No. 62) seen from the Northeast in 2011. The original cottage has been extended at ground level. The railway ran behind the cottage in this view. Its route is over grown by trees and shrubs, (Google Streetview).

The Strabane and Letterkenny Railway crossed the Londonderry and Lough Swilly Railway by means of an over-bridge, (Google Maps).

Close to the final approach to Letterkenny, the Strabane and Letterkenny line ran parallel to the Londonderry & Lough Swilly Railway. The point where they meet is illustrated on this GSGS 1940s map extract in the bottom right corner. [11]The two lines are shown entering the sketch plan from the right. The lighter dashes represent the Strabane and Letterkenny Railway and the heavier dashes, the L&LSR. (the North Point is at the top of the sketch map) (c) John Baird, Dave Bell, Steve Flanders & Blanche Pay. [12]A later OS Ireland Map showing the routes of the two railways. [13]

The Strabane and Letterkenny Railway approached the Londonderry and Lough Swilly Railway from the South at a point which appears in the bottom right of the adjacent map extract from the 1940s. The scale of the map is such that it is impossible to distinguish any indication of the track arrangement at this location and beyond towards Letterkenny.

The Visitor’s Guide to the Londonderry and Lough Swilly Railway [12] shows the Strabane and Letterkenny Railway running for a short distance on the South side of the Londonderry and Lough Swilly Railway (L&LSR), the Strabane and Letterkenny Railway is then shown crossing the route of the Lough Swilly line by means of an over-bridge and then running parallel to it into Letterkenny on the North side of the L&LSR.

That route is illustrated on the adjacent sketch Map. [12]

Other mapping suggests that the point at which the Strabane and Letterkenny Railway crossed the Lough Swilly line was further to the East, close to the point where the former met the L&LSR . This is illustrated on the adjacent later OS Ireland Map. [13]

The location of the rail over rail bridge is shown on Google Maps Satellite imagery of 2020 in the next image below.

From this point on the two lines converged gradually in both vertical and horizontal directions.

The Strabane and Letterkenny Railway crossed the Londonderry and Lough Swilly Railway by means of an over-bridge, (Google Maps).

I have only been able to find a couple of pictorial records of the rail-over-rail bridge myself. both of these are of a relatively poor print quality. They both appear in the same publication: The Londonderry and Lough Swilly Railway: A Visitor’s Guide. [12: p46]. The first shows the bridge as it was in the 1980s, the second in the years when it was still in use.

Kerry Doherty very kindly sent me a colour copy of a photograph of a S&LR train crossing the bridge in May 1959 with No. 5 Drumboe in charge of a goods train.This picture kindly supplied for use in this article by Kerry Doherty. It shows No. 5 Drumboe crossing the rail-over-rail bridge in 1959. By this time the Swilly line was already closed, (c) J.G. Dewing, Color-rail. [6]

To the West of this point the two railways passed under an accommodation road. The next photo shows the remains of the bridges at that location. The Swilly railway bridge parapets are close to the camera. The S&LR parapets can be seen in the distance with the metal fencing on the top.

The old road-over bridges on the eastern approaches to the River Swilly, looking North, (Google Streetview).  Dave Bell and Steve Flanders describe the location in the 1980s: “There is a small side road behind the filling station which runs over two bridges, carrying the road over both railway lines. The Swilly used a single arch overbridge here while, conversely, the CDR used a three-arched bridge: two smaller arches either side of the main arch.” [12:p46] The filling station is long-gone, replaced by more modern buildings alongside the N56.The S&LR railway bridge parapets can still be seen. Concrete with metal fencing is on the East face of the old bridge, Google (Streetview)Dave Bell and Steve Flanders describe the use of the bridge arches in the 1980s like this: “The present owner of the filling station has made good use of the CDR bridge by bricking up one side and building a garage against the other. In effect he now has a garage with three bays, the roof of which is actually the side road.” [12: p47] There are two pictures of the arched bays in Bell and Flanders book.Kerry Doherty also very kindly supplied this photograph which shows the arches of the old S&LR bridge inside the garage facility, (c) Dave Bell. [6]

The two railways then encountered the River Swilly and the main road into Letterkenny from the East. Twin structures carried the two railways over the river and the main road. The modern N56 main road and a large roundabout have obliterated almost all of the railway infrastructure at this location. There are some clues as to what it was like in Bell and Flanders book which was written before much of the infrastructure here had been removed. [12:p47]The modern N56 bridge over the River Swilly sits on the line of the two old railways, (Google Streetview). The roundabout ahead has almost entirely obliterated the rail-over-road bridges which carried the two railway lines over the Port Road. The only remnant appears in the next image.The North abutment of the S&LR bridge over the old road is all that remains of the two railway bridges at this location, (c) Kerry Doherty. [6]Looking back along the old railway with the remaining bridge abutment to our right, (c) Kerry Doherty. [6] 

The plaque which is visible in both these two photographs carries a drawing of what the old bridge(s) looked like.

The plaque in the images above, (c) Kerry Doherty. [6]The historic OS Ireland Map extract show both of the two lines on the approach to the two Letterkenny Railway Stations which sat right next to each other at the Eastern edge of Letterkenny.. [13]The routes of the L&LSR and the S&LR shown on a 21st century satellite image, (Google Maps). The S&LR terminated in Letterkenny. The L&LSR continued further to the West and North.The Letterkenny Railway Stations. [13]

The two railway stations sat next to each other just to the East of the centre of Letterkenny. The two lines approached the stations on the South side of the R940. Their approximate route is highlighted on the Google Streetview image below.

Close to the junction between the R940 and Ashlawn the two railways ran very close to the road. Their route is now covered by the tarmac surface of the car parks of the Letterkenny Institute of Technology, (Google Streetview). The blue/mauve and red lines show the approximate alignment of the railways.

The location of the two railway stations includes the car parks of Letterkenny Shopping Centre and the bus station. Two building from the railway ear remain on the site. The old S&LR goods shed is one of these, it has been refurbished and is now called Railway House.The old S&LR goods shed has been refurbished and is now known as Railway House. This image was taken in 2017 from the R940, (Google Streetview).The same building as seen from the car park of the Letterkenny Shopping Centre, (c) Kerry Doherty. [6]

The old passenger facilities at the station have been converted in recent years into the town’s Bus Station. This required an extension to the building on what was the track-facing side. Kerry Doherty has generously provided three photographs of the modern building. [6]The front facade of the old Station Building, looking from the Southwest in 2020, (c) Kerry Doherty. [6]Inside the extension. The picture shows the old building’s Northeast facing aspect form roughly the position of the buffers stops on the old line. The platform canopy columns have been retained in the new building. The filigree detail has been retained, (c) Kerry Doherty. [6]Looking along the line of the old platform towards the Passenger Station Building. This facade is modern, (c) Kerry Doherty. [6]This final present-day image was again provided by Kerry Doherty and shows the station yard crane almost swamped by vegetation, (c) Kerry Doherty. [6]

We finish this article with a series of pictures of the old S&LR facilities at Letterkenny.

This first image was provided by Kerry Doherty and shows the length of the station platform at Letterkenny in 1959, (c) B. Hilton, Colorrail. [6]This monochrome photograph was taken by Roger Joanes in 1959. The photo was taken from close to the Station building. The railcar is No. 14 and in the distance, under a plume of steam, No. 4 can be seen shunting the yard, (c) Roger Joanes (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0). [14]Also by Roger Joanes, the inscription states: “The former CDR loco ‘Erne’ at Letterkenny, freshly painted for preservation but subsequently scrapped. 2.4.63.” (c) Roger Joanes (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0). [14]The disused S&LR station at Letterkenny in 1963 seen from the location of ‘Erne’ (c) Roger Joanes (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0). [14]An overall shot of the Station and Goods Yard in 1959. Loco No. 4, ‘Meenglas’ is preparing to set off for Strabane in charge of a goods train, (c) Roger Joanes (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0). [14]

Donegal Railway Heritage Centre posted this next photograph on their Facebook page. In this series of articles about the Co. Donegal Railways, photographs from the Donegal Railway Heritage Centre’s Facebook page are ‘linked-to’ after discussion with and kind permission from Jim McBride.

References

  1. Edward M Patterson (original author), Joe Begley & Steve Flanders (authors of additional material in the Revised Edition); The County Donegal Railways; Colourpoint Books, Newtownards, Co. Down 2014. As noted in my first article about the Co. Donegal Railways this was to have been my holiday reading while walking different parts of the network, but 2020 has been a strange year!
  2. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=16&lat=54.91092&lon=-7.65886&layers=14&b=1, accessed on 11th October 2020.
  3. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Athlone,_Cavan_%26_Clara._LetterKenny_Strabane_RJD_113.jpg#/media/File:Athlone,_Cavan_&_Clara._LetterKenny_Strabane_RJD_113.jpg, accessed on 14th July 2020.
  4. The County Donegal Railways Visitor Guide to the Strabane and Letterkenny Railway is now out of print and i have not been able to find a copy.
  5. Edward M Patterson (original author), Joe Begley & Steve Flanders (authors of additional material in the Revised Edition); The Lough Swilly Railway; Colourpoint Books, Newtownards, Co. Down 2017. This was also to have been part of my holiday reading, but 2020 has been a strange year!
  6. Kerry Doherty of Ballindrait very kindly sent me a series of pictures of the Strabane and Letterkenny Railway route. Each of these, in this article, bears the reference number [6]
  7. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=15&lat=54.92484&lon=-7.66844&layers=14&b=1, accessed on 12th October 2020.
  8. Anthony Burges; The Swilly and the Wee Donegal; Colourpoint Books, Newtownards, Co. Down, Second Impression, 2010.
  9. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=15&lat=54.93626&lon=-7.67260&layers=14&b=1, accessed on 12th October 2020.
  10. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=15&lat=54.94389&lon=-7.68287&layers=14&b=1, accessed on 14th October 2020.
  11. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=15&lat=54.94758&lon=-7.70755&layers=14&b=1, accessed on 27th October 2020.
  12. Dave Bell and Steve Flanders; The Londonderry and Lough Swilly Railway: A Visitor’s Guide; County Donegal Railway Restoration Society; an small extract from the sketch plan on p42, rotated through 90 degrees.
  13. http://geohive.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=9def898f708b47f19a8d8b7088a100c4, accessed on 27th and 28th October 2020.
  14. https://www.flickr.com/photos/110691393@N07, accessed on 27th October 2020.
  15. https://www.facebook.com/DonegalRailwayHeritageCentre/photos, accessed on 28th October 2020.

Coalport Incline – Ironbridge

The Hay Inclined Plane at Coalport, Shropshire

On a visit  to Ludlow in late October 2020, my wife and I drove down through Ironbridge Gorge on the River Severn. Just North of Ironbridge we drive through the village of Coalport and over a bridge which spanned a steep inclined plane – two steeply graded parallel railway lines. I suppose it is arguable whether the Inclined Plane really constitutes a railway as it was used for transporting boats between a Canal and a river.

This was the Hay Inclined Plane which provided access from the Shropshire Canal to the River Severn. As far back as 1788 the owners of the canal held a competition to find the most effective way of lowering and lifting loads between the canal and the river.

The winning proposal was submitted by Henry Williams and James Loudon, which was also used at a number of other places in Shropshire. Construction was completed in 1793. By 1820 it was in poor condition and major repairs were needed. (This was also the case in the 1940s.) [1]

In 1857 the Incline was taken over by the LNWR (London and North Western Railway). In 1858, the LNWR closed the Shropshire Canal between the Wrockwardine Wood and Windmill inclined planes, leaving only a short section of canal to serve the industrial area of Blists Hill.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, Blists Hill was an industrial region consisting of a brick and tile works, blast furnaces and coal, iron and fire clay mines operated by the Madeley Wood Company. A short section of the Shropshire Canal ran across the site to the Hay Inclined Plane, which transported boats up and down the 207 ft (63m) high incline from Blists Hill to Coalport. [2]

By 1861, the LNWR had opened their Coalport Branch from Wellington to Coalport which passed across the bottom of the Hay Incline. It seems as though the last use of the Hay Incline was in the year 1894 and it was formally closed in 1907. [1]

The Incline was restored in 1968 and once more in 1975. Rails were reinstated as part of the creation of the Ironbridge Gorge Museums. [3][4]

The video below was taken by DJI Spark. It gives an excellent overview of the location. [5]

References

  1. Ironbridge Gorge Museum information boards.
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blists_Hill_Victorian_Town#History_of_the_site, accessed on 21st October 2020.
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blists_Hill_Victorian_Town#History_of_the_site, accessed on 21st October 2020.
  4. https://www.ironbridge.org.uk, accessed on 21st October 2020.
  5. https://youtu.be/L2isxApfOto, accessed on 21st October 2020.

The Railways of Jamaica

I have just enjoyed reading, ‘The Railways of Jamaica’, written by Jim Horsford. It is a Locomotives International publication, published by Paul Catchpole Ltd, St. Austel, Cornwall. [1]

This is an excellent study on the history of the main lines of the railways in Jamaica and also reflects briefly on some of the still open lines serving the Bauxite industry. The book results from a visit by Jim Horsford in 2006 to Jamaica and includes photographs from his own collection and those of other enthusiasts and past residents of Jamaica. In addition some aerial views taken from a helicopter show the condition of various sites on the old network in 2006.

In addition to a review of the network, Jim Horsford provides details of the majority of different locomotives and railcars used on the system together with passenger and good stock.

I managed to pick up the book on offer from Mainline and Maritime [2] for £5. It is at present on offer on their website for £10 and they offer to include a volume about the Sugar Cane lines of Cuba along with it. The RRP is £25.

Each of the main lines and branch lines on the public network are described in detail. The system used to link the capital Kingstown with Montego Bay, Port Antonio, Ewarton, Frankfield, Fort Simonds, Port Esquival and the Pleasant Valley. The featured image shows the network at its peak before Bauxite Mining operations began.

The book was a delightful read.

Wikipedia [3] provides provides a relatively strong study of the railways of the Caribbean island through until final closure of the network in 1992. [4] It does not seem necessary to reproduce significant parts of that article in this post. The full Wikipedia article can be found here. [3]

The first colonial railway for both freight and passengers opened in Jamaica in 1845, only twenty years after George Stephenson’s Stockton and Darlington Railway commenced operations in the United Kingdom.

By the 1890s expansion had reached its peak, with 216 miles of main and branch lines. Railway services contributed greatly to the development of the island “by providing efficient and inexpensive transport and by opening up the interior to the cultivation of old and new plantation crops, encouraging the intensification of peasant agriculture, promoting the establishment of agro-industries and creating new townships.” [5]

Jamaica 1970 Jamaican Railways SG 326 [6]

In the 1930s the failure of the banana industry and competition from motor transport drastically reduced revenue. By the 1970s the railways had become a liability. In 1975 two of the mainlines closed. This was the beginning of the end, although the railways struggles on until 1992.

Four private industrial lines continue to operate in the 21st Century, in part using Jamaica Railway Corporation (JRC) lines. [7] Of the total of 272 kilometres (169 miles) of standard-gauge lines operating in 1992, 207 kilometres (129 mi) of public lines belonging to JRC closed, leaving 65 kilometres (40 mi) in private hands. [8].

Wikipedia tells us that the JRC still exists in the early 21st century. It is responsible for management of the JRC interests and property, and maintaining its locomotives but not the rolling stock. [9] In November 1990, the JRC signed a 30-year Track User Agreement with Alcan Jamaica, which was renegotiated with the successor Windalco in December 2001. [3]

“The company makes J$40 million per year through track user fees for the hauling of alumina and bauxite, and the residual from the rental of real estate and its three operable locomotives. The company has a staff of 76, who fulfill contractual obligations to users of the company’s facilities” [3][10].

It seems that, “during the 1990s, a plan was considered which would see commuter services between Kingston and Spanish Town, later extended to Linstead. It was proposed to cost US$8 million and be running by January 2001, with the government holding 40% of a public-private venture.” [3] This proposal appears not to have come to fruition.

A further revival of rail services was considered in the very early years of the 21st century. Discussions were held with a series of different partners: the Canadian National Railway; the Rail India Technical and Economic Service (RITES); and then with the China Railway after a deal was signed by the Prime Minister P J Patterson with Chinese vice-president Zeng Qinghong in Jamaica in February 2005. [3]

On 16th April 2011 an inaugural train ran from May Pen to Linstead. [11] This service was short-lived, running until August 2012, [12] and it was December 2016 before “the government signed a memorandum of understanding with Herzog International to study the resumption of passenger and freight services. The Ministry of Transport & Mining envisaged a three-stage reopening process, with Phase 1 covering Montego Bay to Appleton, Phase 2 Spanish Town to Ewarton and Phase 3 Spanish Town to Clarendon.” [13]

The bright colours of the refurbished/new stock for Jamaica Railways. [19]

The 2016 initiative foundered “in late 2017 because Herzog Jamaica Limited failed to meet the deliverables of a non-binding ­memorandum of understanding brokered with the Ministry of Transport and Mining.” [12]

At the beginning of 2020, the Jamaica Observer reported that the Government was “to try a new approach to restore passenger rail service to Jamaica, almost 28 years after the trains stopped rolling. Minister with portfolio responsibility for information Karl Samuda … announced a change in the approach to the privatisation of the Jamaica Railway Corporation (JRC). ” [14]

The Jamaica Gleaner reported in June 2020 that the Government was still committed to reviving a rail service. [15]

There is an educational video about the line. The film was made  in the mid-1960s: [16]

The next video was shot during the brief window of activity starting in 2011. it covers a length of the line between Bog Walk and Angels on a journey on 9th August 2011. [17]

One final link takes you to a .pdf produced by the Jamaican government. It tells the story of the railways. We need to forgive the incorrect captions under the first two pictures, (the captions have been transposed). The .pdf can be downloaded by clicking here. [18]

References

  1. J. Horsford; The Railways of Jamaica; a Locomotives International publication, published by Paul Catchpole Ltd, St. Austel, Cornwall, 2010.
  2. Mainline and Martime: https://www.mainlineandmaritime.co.uk, accessed on 8th October 2020.
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rail_transport_in_Jamaica, accessed on 8th October 2020.
  4. For more details see: Veront M. Satchell & Cezley Sampson (University of the West Indies); The rise and fall of railways in Jamaica, 1845-1975′; in the Journal of Transport History; Volume No. 24, Issue No.1, March 2003;  p1-21.
  5. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/272812243_The_rise_and_fall_of_railways_in_Jamaica_1845-1975, accessed on 8th October 2020.
  6. https://www.stamps-for-sale.com/jamaica-1970-jamaican-railways-sg-326-fine-used-23689-p.asp, accessed on 8th October 2020.
  7.  Jamaica Transportation Encyclopædia Britannica: https://www.britannica.com/place/Jamaica, accessed on 8th October 2020.
  8. Jamaica Transportation Archived 2007-12-30 at the Wayback Machine Jamaica National Heritage Trust.
  9. The Privatisation of Jamaica Railway Corporation stalls and sputters Radio Jamaica – April 24, 2007; https://web.archive.org/web/20110720104242/http://www.rmtbristol.org.uk/2007/04/privatisation_of_jamaica_railw.html, accessed on 8th October 2020.
  10. Jamaican trains may never roll again The Jamaica Observer – February 25, 2007: https://web.archive.org/web/20101009143040/http://www.rmtbristol.org.uk/2007/02/jamaican_trains_may_never_roll.html, accessed on 8th October 2020.
  11. https://www.webcitation.org/5z1l6UP17?url=http://www.railwaygazette.com/index.php?id=44&no_cache=1&tx_ttnews%5btt_n, accessed on 8th October 2020.
  12. Railway Corporation to end passenger services. Jamaica Gleaner: http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20120814/lead/lead9.html, accessed on 8th October 2020.
  13. https://www.railwaygazette.com/traction-and-rolling-stock/crrc-to-supply-locomotives-to-jamaica/45739.article, accessed on 8th October 2020.
  14. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Gov%26%238217;t_announces_another_plan_to_get_trains_rolling_again?profile=0, accessed on 8th October 2020.
  15. http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/news/20200602/govt-still-committed-reviving-rail-service-montague, accessed on 8th October 2020.
  16. The film is made available by the National Library of Jamaica on YouTube: https://youtu.be/daJmHW2Bd9Y, accessed on 8th October 2020.
  17. A short length of railway viewd from the train in 2011: https://youtu.be/hxauC9kBuHY, accessed on 8th October 2020.
  18. http://www.nlj.gov.jm/history-notes/History%20of%20Railroads%20in%20Jamaica.pdf, accessed on 8th October 2020.
  19. https://www.wiredja.com/index.php/news/local-news/jamaica-to-sign-mou-to-revive-railway-system, accessed on 8th October 2020.

Co. Donegal Railways, Ireland – Part 5 – Strabane to Letterkenny (Part B – Raphoe to Convoy)

As we noted at the start of the previous article about this line, Wikipedia gives us a very short history of the line from Strabane to Letterkenny and provides a single image – the Railway Clearing House map with stations in Strabane and Letterkenny:

The Railway Clearing House map with stations in Strabane and Letterkenny. [3]

This series of articles seeks to expand our understanding of the route of the various Co. Donegal Railways through combining old images and modern views. Satellite images also give us a good understanding of what remains of the infrastructure of these lines.

A Journey Along the Line – Strabane to Letterkenny – Part B – Raphoe to Convoy

A sketch plan of Raphoe Railway Station by Steve Flanders from the book ‘The County Donegal Railways’ [1: p43] This drawing is included by kind permission of Steve Flanders.Railcar No. 20 at Raphoe Station, heading for Letterkenny in 1959 (c) Roger Joanes (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) The Crossing-keepers cottage at the level-crossing to the East of the Station can be picked out to the right of the railcar. By this time, the passing loop shown in Steve Flanders sketch plan above had been lifted. [7]

Having enjoyed a stopover in Raphoe, we start the next stage of this journey back at the Railway Station at Raphoe and pick up the last image (above) from the previous article about the line:

https://rogerfarnworth.com/2020/07/27/co-donegal-railways-ireland-part-4-strabane-to-letterkenny-part-a-strabane-to-raphoe

Before we climb aboard Railcar No. 20 as it sets off for Letterkenny we look at the condition of the station site in the 21st century. The two pictures immediately below were taken relatively recently by Kerry Doherty. The first shows the location of the old station platform, the second looks from the West through the station site.

All that remains of the platform of Raphoe station. You can clearly see this shed is built on top of it (c) Kerry Doherty. [6]This picture appeared at the end of the last article about this line. It shows the site of Raphoe Station in 21st century taken from a similar position to the Roger Joanes image above. The Station Master’s House on the left is the only building remaining on the site. Kerry Doherty comments that ‘it was difficult to get a photo of the site as many lorries now occupy the yard’, (c) Kerry Doherty. [6]

There are also two excellent photographs of Raphoe in Anthony Burges Album of the line. [8: p32-33]

Now we set off towards Convoy from Raphoe Railway Station. …….GSGS 1940s Map of Raphoe and its Southwestern approaches. [2]The site of Raphoe Railway Station in the 21st century. [4]The route continues through Aughnakeeragh (Google Maps).

The three images immediately above show that the line began, gradually, to curve round to a Southwesterly direction as it left Raphoe Railway Station, before turning almost directly South at Aughnakeeragh.

At location ‘1’ on the map immediately above, the road turned sharply to the south so as to cross the railway on a bridge.The narrow road crossed the old railway on a stone arch bridge. The railway cutting has now been infilled and the road alignment marginally improved (Google Streetview). This view shows the approach from Raphoe.Crossing the bridge location and turning to look back towards Raphoe, this is the view (Google Streetview)

At location ‘4’, an accommodation bridge provided access across the old line.

The location of the old bridge is difficult to pick out on this image from Google Streetview.

This image, taken by Kerry Doherty from the top of the bridge at location ‘3’ above gives a better impression of the remains of the old bridge. The S&LR was in cutting at the bridge but the land drops away towards the foreground and at the point of the modern access road in the middle of the picture, the line went from being in cutting to being on an embankment, (c) Kerry Doherty [6]

As noted under the picture above, at location ‘2’, the old railway was almost at the same level as the surrounding land with cutting to the East and embankment developing to the West.A modern farm access road crosses the old line at the approximate location when natural land levels and the formation of the S&LR matched (Google Streetview).

At location ‘3’, close to Aughnakeeragh, the railway was carried over a road on a stone arch bridge.This Google Streetview image shows the bridge viewed from the Southeast.The Google Streetview image of the bridge taken from the Northwest shows it heavily overgrown by ivy.In this recent photograph, the bridge has been stripped of vegetation and is much more clearly visible, (c) Kerry Doherty. [6]This Google Streetview image is taken from the road on the North side of the line, immediately to the West of the above bridge and shows the Railway embankment disturbed to allow vehicles to access land to the South.The next extract from the GSGS 1940s series of Maps shows the line to the West of Aughnakeeragh. [9]

After passing immediately to the West of Aughnakeeragh the line headed South for a Short distance before curving to the West once again.

There was an accommodation bridge which carried a lane across the S&LR at Tullyvinny. The location appears on the adjacent Google Maps extract to the Southwest of the road junction at the centre of the satellite image. The lane ran parallel to the S&LR for a short distance on the East side of the railway cutting before turning West across the line. The closest we can get on Google Streetview is shown in the first image below.

The next track to cross the line was that leading to Figart Upper Farm. The Lane appears in the bottom third, on the left-hand side of the next Google Maps satellite image below. The farm is on the left-hand side of the image close to the top.From Figart Upper Farm to Kiltole the old line was alternately in cutting and at the same level as the surrounding land but on the hill above the road which ran parallel to it to the South. An accommodate bridge over the line is marked by the black circle on the above plan and appears to relate to another structure which can be seen on the Goggle Streetview photograph below and which is taken from the road a little to the West of the accommodation bridge.A lime kiln adjacent to the accommodation bridge referred to above. It seems as though the bridge permitted access to the lime kiln.  (Google Streetview).

Very kindly, when I first asked about this structure in very early October 2020, Kerry Doherty offered to investigate. He took his camera with him as he endeavoured to walk the line from the West. He gained access to the old line through a field adjacent to the Kiltole Quarry . His first photograph shows the formation to the East of the quarry.

The formation of the Strabane and Letterkenny Railway to the East of Kiltole Quarry, (c) Kerry Doherty [6]

Kerry’s trek along the line increasingly required him to struggle through bushes, small trees and thick under growth. The next picture is taken looking West from close to the lime-kiln and its bridge.

Looking West towards Convoy close to the Limekiln, (c) Kerry Doherty. [6]Kerry Doherty says: “It got almost impassable approaching the bridge beside the lime kiln. The bridge pillars can just be seen through the trees,” (c) Kerry Doherty. [6]Kerry says: “I climbed the cutting to get a better shot of the bridge,” (c) Kerry Doherty. [6]Some original boundary fencing adjacent to the bridge parapet, (c) Kerry Doherty. [6]Looking across the accommodation bridge and then across the Lime Kiln to the South, (c) Kerry Doherty. [6]Adjacent to the Lime Kiln the two approach walls to the bridge parapet railing can be seen. That to the East is curved in plan, (c) Kerry Doherty. [6]

Three pictures of the Lime Kiln follow. All again taken by Kerry Doherty:The Lime Kiln from the South, (c) Kerry Doherty. [6]The view from the Southwest, (c) Kerry Doherty. [6]A close-up shot of the mouth of the Kiln, (c) Kerry Doherty. [6]

Immediately to the west, the road and old railway ran close together. This can be seen in this next Google Streetview image.In this picture the formation of the S&LR can be seen in the trees immediately at the back of the land belonging to this bungalow (Google Streetview).

The line ahead now approaches Convoy. Although the formation is completely lost as it crossed the site of the now defunct Kiltole Quarry. The railway station was in the part of Convoy referred to as Milltown (to the East of Convoy itself), sited just to the North of the old mills.The Village/Town of Convoy (Milltown) on the GSGS 1940s Series of Maps. [10]

Convoy on the Header National Townland and Historical Map Viewer. The route of the old railway has been imposed on the map as a thin red line. [11]The approximate route of the old line through Convoy (Google Maps). The locations of the Gatehouse and the two road over rail bridges are marked.

The closest view of the Railway Station site at Convey that is available on Google Streetview. The last remaining structure on the site is the goods shed.

Convoy Railway Station 1959 (c) Roger Joanes, (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

This second length of the Strabane to Letterkenny line finishes here at Convoy, the remainder of the line to Letterkenny will follow in another post.

References

  1. Edward M Patterson (original author), Joe Begley & Steve Flanders (authors of additional material in the Revised Edition); The County Donegal Railways; Colourpoint Books, Newtownards, Co. Down 2014. As noted in my first article about the Co. Donegal Railways this was to have been my holiday reading while walking different parts of the network, but 2020 has been a strange year!
  2. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=15&lat=54.87036&lon=-7.61772&layers=14&b=1, accessed on 25th July 2020.
  3. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Athlone,_Cavan_%26_Clara._LetterKenny_Strabane_RJD_113.jpg#/media/File:Athlone,_Cavan_&_Clara._LetterKenny_Strabane_RJD_113.jpg, accessed on 14th July 2020.
  4. http://geohive.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=9def898f708b47f19a8d8b7088a100c4, accessed on 25th July 2020.
  5. Edward M Patterson (original author), Joe Begley & Steve Flanders (authors of additional material in the Revised Edition); The Lough Swilly Railway; Colourpoint Books, Newtownards, Co. Down 2017. This was also to have been part of my holiday reading, but 2020 has been a strange year!
  6. Kerry Doherty of Ballindrait very kindly sent me a series of pictures of the Strabane and Letterkenny Railway route. Each of these, in this article, bears the reference number [6] Later, and also referenced [6] Kerry scrambled through the undergrowth along the old line to find evidence of the accommodation bridge and the rear of the lime kiln.
  7. https://www.flickr.com/photos/110691393@N07/11364546546/in/photolist-ijfgKG-ijfnbj, accessed on 22nd July 2020.
  8. Anthony Burges; The Swilly and the Wee Donegal; Colourpoint Books, Newtownards, Co. Down, Second Impression, 2010.
  9. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=15&lat=54.86372&lon=-7.63776&layers=14&b=1, accessed on 8th August 2020.
  10. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=15&lat=54.86396&lon=-7.65969&layers=14&b=1, accessed on 9th August 2020.
  11. https://www.flickr.com/photos/110691393@N07/11371005014/in/photolist-ijf23V-ijPnCA, accessed on 5th October 2020.