In April 2023 we were able to drop in at Belturbet Railway Station on our way to Co. Donegal. The Station Museum was open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 12noon to 5pm throughout the Summer season.  A small group of enthusiast’s have turned a derelict site into a good museum and rescued the majority of rail related buildings on the site. A patient wife allowed me a pleasant hour or so looking round the Museum.
Belturbet was the terminus for two different railway lines: the Irish standard gauge (5ft 3in) line from Ballyhaise on the Cavan Branch of the Great Northern Railway (GNR), and the Cavan and Leitrim Railway (C&L) – a 3ft gauge line which served Dromod to the Southwest and Arigna to the West with its three 3ft gauge lines meeting at Ballinamore in Co. Leitrim). At Dromod the C&L connected to the Midland Great Western Railway mainline from Dublin to Sligo.
Closure of the Station occurred in 1959. The site remained derelict for 36 years until, in 1995, Belturbet Community Development Association commenced restoration work. That work was completed in 1999. Further development of the site is planned which will see original track being relaid and with the intention of seeing trains running once again in Belturbet.
The plan of the Station Site is numbered to allow easy identification of different buildings. The 3ft gauge line enters the schematic plans from the West (the right side of the image), the 5ft 3in gauge line enters from the East (the left side of the image). The buildings are:
- The Main Station Building and Museum – the dressed stone buildings were the main reception area, office and waiting rooms for the Great Northern Railway (GNR) at Belturbet. What is now a single reception room was originally two separate rooms, the first being the main concourse for access to the platforms. To the East were two waiting rooms, one for the general public and one (with toilet) for ladies holding first class tickets. To the West of the main reception area (behind the museum reception desk was the ticket office leading to the Station Master’s office, which had a connecting door to his house.
- The Station Master’s House – has been restored. It would have originally been a family home but can now be booked for self-catering holidays.
- Railway Lines and Platform – Belturbet railway station, which opened in 1885, was built and operated by the Great Northern Railway Company of Ireland (GNR). It was the last station of the GNR broad-gauge railway line – 5ft. 3 in. (1.6 m.). In 1887 the Cavan & Leitrim (C&L) narrow-gauge line – 3 ft. (0.9 m.) was built, Belturbet was the first station on this line. On the newly extended platform, passengers transferred from one line to the other. GNR and C&L trains stopped on opposite sides of the platform. There was a roof over the platform immediately adjacent to the station buildings.
- GNR Goods Shed/Store – Goods Wagons were positioned alongside the small platform in front of the Goods Store. Wagon floors were level with the platform which made it easy for the porters with their barrows to move goods on and off the wagons. A crane was used to load and unload heavy items.
- Cattle Dock and Ramp – The Cattle Dock was virtually unchanged from its opening in 1885 until its closure on March 31st, 1959. The dock was used to load livestock onto the wagons. This was particularly useful on the first Thursday of every month, when Belturbet Fair took place on the Fair Green.
- GNR Signal Box – this building was no longer on site when the preservation work commenced.
- GNR Turntable – The circle of stones indicate the position of the turntable. It was so well balanced that one man could single- handedly turn around a 50 ton engine.
- GNR Engine Shed – The GNR Engine Shed, refurbished to original specifications, is where an engine was housed at night. The large vent in the roof allowed smoke and steam to escape when the engine was in steam.
- Transshipment Shed – For many years GNR coal trains were filled from C&L coal wagons by local men using only shovels, barrows and planks of timber. The demand for Arigna coal ensured that Belturbet Station remained open five or six years longer than many similar stations.
- C&L Engine Shed and Water Tower – the C&L shed and water tower were demolished before renovation of the station site commenced.
- GNR Water Tower – In 1997 the GNR water tower was dismantled and reassembled on the site of the original C&L Engine Shed and Water Tower, which had been demolished.
- C&L Turntable – this had been removed before renovation commenced.
- C&L Goods Shed/Store – this was the only building on the station site to have survived the period of dereliction with its original slate roof and wooden doors.
There are a significant number of historic photographs on display cover both the broad gauge line and the narrow gauge line.
The following photos were taken by me on 21st April 2023.
- https://belturbetheritagerailway.com, accessed on 21st April 2023.
- https://www.discoverireland.ie/cavan/belturbet-heritage-railway-museum, accessed on 22nd April 2022.
- http://www.discoverbelturbet.ie/about-belturbet/belturbet-railway-station, accessed on 22nd April 2022.
- Belturbet Railway Station Museum publicity leaflet, (www.belturbetheritagerailway.com).
- https://www.anglocelt.ie/2021/02/13/railway-group-on-track-with-funding-plan, accessed on 23rd April 2023.
- https://www.anglocelt.ie/2021/08/08/belturbet-train-crash-in-1879?fbclid=IwAR2o6BJftonlCnh4RvghHx2FvBwFgJvqDN47ucVbmwHKKY-OOUi5zeasd0Q, accessed on 23rd April 2023.
- https://bizlocator.ie/listings/belturbet-railway-museum, accessed on 4th June 2019
- https://osi.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=bc56a1cf08844a2aa2609aa92e89497e, accessed on 28th April 2023.
Spent the first few years in Belturbet playing at the Railway, my late father worked on the academy an and Leitrim, love going back to see the Museum.