The Fintona Tram

The featured image above shows Fintona Railway Station from Main Street, Fintona in June 1957, (c) Wilson Adams. The image is used here under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license (CC BY-SA 2.0). [7]

The Londonderry and Enniskillen Railway [2] opened the railway station in Fintona on 5th June 1853. A short time after the Londonderry to Enniskillen Railway completed its mainline to Enniskillen (in 1854 [2]). mainline services were withdrawn from Fintona (in 1856 [1]), and the link to Fintona became a branch from the mainline at Fintona Junction railway station. [3] Most passenger services on this branch line were then provided by a horse-drawn tram car. [1] Since the line’s closure, the tram has been preserved at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum at Cultra, County Down. [2]

Wikipedia notes that the branch line to Fintona was taken over by the Great Northern Railway (Ireland) in 1883 when it took control of the Londonderry and Enniskillen Railway. [1]

The branch-line and the station at Fintona were closed on 1 October 1957. [1] The whole area comprising the Fintona Train station is now a car park and public toilet. [4]

As we have noted, “Passenger services on the half mile Fintona branch were worked by horse traction throughout the 104 years of its existence up to closure in 1957.” [4]

Timetables were worked out on what a horse could reasonably be expected to achieve. This meant that rail authorities “allowed 10 minutes for the slightly downhill trip to Fintona, and 15 minutes for the return working. Seven trips per day were scheduled in summer 1951.” [5]

The tramcar which was used for the majority of the life of the service, “entered service in 1883, had longitudinal seating, back to back on the upper deck and with seats facing each other on the lower deck. Originally the latter was divided into 1st and 2nd class, and the top deck was 3rd class. The car is estimated to have covered 125,000 miles in its ambulation’s on the branch.” [5]

“Goods wagons for Fintona were worked by a steam engine which, in later years at least, made a return trip in the morning before passenger services started.” [5]

The Line between Fintona and Fintona Junction

The first image below shows the route of the line on an extract from the GSGS maps of 1941-1943 produced by the British War Office at a scale of 1″ to 1 mile. [6] The second picture is a matching 21st century satellite image which shows how little of both the mainline and the branch remain in the 21st century.

The Fintona Branch: a map extract from the British War Office (G.S.G.S 4136) 1″ to the mile survey published 1941-1943. [6]
The location of the Fintona Branch on modern satellite imagery. [6]
A similar area on the Satellite imagery with the route of the mainline (The Londonderry and Enniskillen Railway) and the alignment of the Fintona Branch illustrated by redlines. [6])

Fintona Junction

The next image below shows the approach road to what was Fintona Junction Railway Station from the B46. Immediately to the right of this road was a level-crossing which took the mainline across the B46. The Londonderry and Enniskillen Railway ran under the location of the bungalow on the right, parallel to the station approach road.

The access road shown above now only provides access to a farm. At one time it was the public access to the junction station.

Fintona Junction Station site. The line of the railway to Enniskillin can be seen crossing the B46, Dromore Road in the bottom left of this satellite image. The line to Fintona is indicative rather then accurate. [Google Maps]
Fintona Junction: GNR 4-4-0 goods engine No.73 of Class ‘P’ stands in the bay, having shunted its train to await the passing of the two passenger trains of the evening of August Bank Holiday Saturday, 1954. [12]
A Still image from a 1950s cinefilm which shows the signal box, station sign and porters trolleys at Fintona Junction, (c) The Huntley Archives, Film No.96367. [13]

The line

AS we have already noted, the journey from Fintona Junction to Fintona Railway Station was timetabled as just a 10 minute journey. The tram was usually waiting for connections at Fintona Junction as in the first picture below.

0953-4 Horse Tram Fintona Ireland (JW Armstrong)  102
The view from the mainline of Fintona Junction Station. The tram is waiting to offer a connection for the train arriving from Londonderry, (c) J.W. Armstrong/ARPT – this link is to the image as held on Ernie’s Railway Archive on Flickr. [8]
The tram for Fintona with horse”Dick” (apparently all the horses used on the service were called ‘Dick’) waiting with the branch connection at Fintona Junction, while PPs class 4-4-0 No.44 arrives with 1.45pm Omagh – Enniskillen local train (c) L.King,5th July 1955. [4]
Fintona Junction Railway Station in April 1964 (c) Roger Joanes. The image is included here under a creative Commons Licence, Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0). [9]

In the picture above the line can be seen to be in a shallow cutting soon after leaving the railway station. As can be seen below, this was a very shallow and short cutting.

Lookin ahead down the line from Fintona Junction in the 1950s, (c) The Huntley Film Archive Film No. 96367. [13]
The tram transporting military personnel leaves Fintona Junction and runs along the section of track being inspected in the image above, (c) Mr Gallagher c1941-45. [4]
Now just beyond the cutting mentioned above. The line continues to curve towards Fintona, (c) The Huntley Film Archive Film No. 96367. [13]
Leaning out of the tram window, we can see the line continuing to curve westwards, just ahead, shrubs are beginning to encroach on the line, (c) The Huntley Film Archive Film No. 96367. [13]
This satellite image shows the current landscape around the next section of the old railway linejust south of the junction station. [Google Maps]
A hazy view from the top deck of the tram looking back along the line towards Fintona junction, (c) The Huntley Film Archive Film No. 96367. [13]
Postcard View circa 1930 which shows the tram rounding the curve after leaving Fintona Junction Station on the way to Fintona. It is in the midst of the shrubs mentioned above, (c) Public Domain. [1]
A little further ahead along the line is again in a shallow cutting, (c) The Huntley Film Archive Film No. 96367. [13]
The next length of the line sees the old railway leave the curve and straighten up heading for Fintona in a southeasterly direction. [Google Maps]
Over this next length of the old railway it is much more difficult to determine the precise alignment of the line. The redline cannot be taken as accurate in anyway. The vast majority of the buildings shown to the southwest of the line all postdate the removal of the old railway. [Google Maps]
The north end of Sherwood Close. The old railway probably ran approximately on the line of the green fence between the two properties shown here. [Google Streetview]
A view from the north on Ashfield Gardens. The farm access track referred to on the image appears in the bottom right of the satellite image above. It can also be seen at the top left of the satellite image below. [Google Streetview]
This final satellite image shows the approximate line of the railway as it enters the station throat and runs through to the terminus buffer stops. The station used to front onto Main Street. The area is now the premises of Lisdergan Butchery (https://lisderganbutchery.com), Eurospar and the town car park. The building which fronts onto Main Street being Fintona’s public toilets. [Google Maps]
A short distance further along the line, the land has dropped away once again and the station at Fintona is in sight, (c) The Huntley Film Archive Film No. 96367. [13]
GNRI 1952-06-26 Fintona station 049
The view Southeast towards Fintona Station from along the line. The permanent way between the two rails is filled with earth up to sleeper level or just above to create a suitable surface for the horse. Notice how, at the point ahead, hoof marks show that the horse has avoided crossing the switch rail until the last possible moment, (c) Ernie’s Railway Archive – this link is to the image as held on Ernie’s Railway Archive on Flickr. [8]
Arriving at Fintona. The tram is a few yards closer to the station than it was in the image above, (c) David Bradley, September 1957. [4]
Closer again to the station platform now. Do not be deceived by the platform visible close to the camera, this was a goods loading point which is described on the plan below as ‘The Beach’, (c) The Huntley Film Archive Film No. 96367. [13]
We are now close-in to the covered station platform at Fintona. This a picture of the Railway Station in April 1964 a good few years after the closure of the line, (c) Roger Joanes. The image is included here under a creative Commons Licence, Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0). [9]
A similar image to the Roger Joanes’ photograph above, this time in colour. As the vegetation encroachment is greater on this image it is probably a summer-time image. [Public Domain] [11]
A plan of Fintona Railway Station as shown on the Irish Railway Modellers Forum. It is taken from from Norman Johnston’s book on the Tram, “The Fintona Horse Tram.” [10]
Fintona Railway Station as shown at the head of this article, (c) Wlison Adams. The image is included here under The image is included here under a creative Commons Licence (CC BY-SA 2.0). [14]
This is approximately the same view but taken in 2007. (c) Kenneth Allen. The image is included here under The image is included here under a creative Commons Licence (CC BY-SA 2.0). [15]
Approximately the same location but this time in June 2021. The toilet block has been replaced with something which looks a little more as though it belongs in the heart of Fintona. [Google Streetview]

The Return Journey to Fintona Junction

Just a few photographs now which show the return journey to Fintona Junction.

The line’s horse stands in Fintona station ready to depat with a baggage truck and the tramcar in 1926. This consist does not appear in any other images but it is how the tram is displayed in the Museum at Cultra, (c )the Tramway and Light Railway Society. The image was seen on the Tramway Badges and Buttons website. [16]
“Dick” leaving Fintona with the 4.14pm to Fintona Junction, (c) N.W.Sprinks taken on 25th June 1952. [4]
GNRI 1952-06-26 Fintona CURC trip 052
The journey back from Fintona to Fintona Junction on 26th June 1952 (c) Ernie’s Railway Archive. This link is to the image as held on Ernie’s Railway Archive on Flickr. [8]

And finally. …

After closure of the line, Fintona’s tram was preserved and now sits in Ulster Transport Museum, Cultra.

Fintona’s tram on display in Ulster Transport Museum, Cultra. [11]

References

  1. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fintona_railway_station, accessed on 24th May 2022.
  2. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Londonderry_and_Enniskillen_Railway, accessed on 24th May 2022.
  3. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fintona_Junction_railway_station, access on 24th May 2022.
  4. http://www.trolleybus.net/subhtml/picture9.htm
  5. Irish Railway Record Society; Irish Railways in Pictures No.1 – Great Northern; Irish Railway Record Society [London Area],1976.
  6. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=14.476527836102857&lat=54.50393&lon=-7.33038&layers=14&b=1, accessed on 26th May 2022.
  7. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3f/Fintona_Station_-geograph.org.uk-_333213.jpg, accessed on 26th May 2022.
  8. https://www.flickr.com/photos/irishswissernie, accessed on 26th May 2022.
  9. https://www.flickr.com/photos/110691393@N07/12908937435/in/photolist-kEHFmP-kEKVcj, accessed on 26th May 2022.
  10. Norman Johnston; The Fintona Horse Tram; Omagh: West Tyrone Historical Society, 1992; https://irishrailwaymodeller.com/topic/10057-minimally-interesting-track-layouts, accessed on 26th May 2022.
  11. https://stringfixer.com/tags/fintona, accessed on 26th May 2022.
  12. https://chasewaterstuff.wordpress.com/2014/04/22/some-early-lines-six-counties-scenes, accessed on 26th May 2022.
  13. The Huntley Archives: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bcv_XjOpcBE, accessed on 27th May 2022.
  14. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Fintona_railway_station#/media/File:Fintona_Station_-geograph.org.uk-_333213.jpg, accessed on 24th May 2022.
  15. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/8d/Public_Toilets%2C_Fintona_-geograph.org.uk-_552343.jpg, accessed on 27th May 2022.
  16. http://www.tramwaybadgesandbuttons.com/page148/page149/styled-241/page664.html, accessed on 27th May 2022.

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