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Kilmarnock and Troon Railway

A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

This edition is copyright © The Editors of the Gazetteer for Scotland, 2002-2016.

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Caledonian Railway, a railway originally designed as a trunk line connecting Edinburgh and Glasgow with Carlisle, but now embracing an extensive district, and forming the second, in point of mileage, of the railway systems in Scotland. In 1845 an elaborate examination of the various proposals for providing railway facilities between England and Scotland was made on behalf of the Board of Trade, with the result that the Caledonian line, as then proposed, was approved. The act for the construction of the line was passed in July 1845, embracing a main line from Carlisle to Carstairs in Lanarkshire, dividing there into a fork reaching to Edinburgh on the one hand and to Glasgow on the other; with a spur from the latter arm of the fork to join the Scottish Central railway for Stirling, Perth, and the North of Scotland. In constructing these lines, 141 miles in length, there was used a portion of the Glasgow and Garnkirk and the Wishaw and Coltness railways, lines opened in 1831 and 1833, and ranking early in the railway enterprises of the kingdom. For the original line, which was completed in 1848, the authorised capital was £3,433,130 in shares and £1,030,200 in loans. By extensions, amalgamations, leases, and working agreements the Caledonian railway now consists of 733¼ miles of railway owned by the company, 176 miles worked under agreement, 76½ miles of other companies' lines used under running powers, and the Forth and Clyde Canal 52¾ miles, being a total of 1038½ miles of public communications in the hands of the company. Of the system there are 2½ miles consisting of four lines of railways, 453¾ miles consisting of double line, the remainder consisting of single line. At July 1881, the capital expenditure of the company amounted to £36,459,245, of which there was raised in shares £29,037,751 (of which sum £10,257,074 stood as 'ordinary' stock, £2,783,658 as 'deferred' stock, and the remainder as ' guaranteed ' and 'preference' stocks), and in loan and debenture stock £7,127,936, with some minor items of receipt. This Capital total is to a certain extent fictitious, owing to the creation of nominal capital in consolidating various guaranteed and preference stocks, formerly carrying various dividends into stock at one uniform rate, and the 'deferred' capital is also nominal, being created to represent the claims of some of those consolidated stocks to contingent rights of dividend under certain specified circumstances. It is thus impossible to say specifically how much ` hard money ' has been expended in the construction of the system, but it probably does not fall short of thirty millions sterling. In the half-year last reported, the railway carried 679,388 first class, 520,528 second class, and 6,416,487 third class passengers, making, with 7529 season-ticket holders, a total of 7,623,932 passengers, yielding a total revenue of £364,532. The goods revenue amounted to £859,625, the total revenue for the half-year being thus over 1¼ million of money. To carry this trade the company possessed 681 locomotive engines, 1602 passenger vehicles (including horse boxes, luggage vans, etc.), and 42,938 waggons, 30,644 of the latter being engaged in the vast mineral traffic of the company. In the course of the half-year those vehicles traversed in all 5,602,565 train-miles, of which there were run for passenger traffic 2,511,644 train-miles, and for goods and mineral traffic 3,090,921 miles. The gross revenue per train-mile was 57.68d., the passenger train average being 43.75d., and the goods train average 68 -77d. per mile. As the main route of the mail service in Scotland, the Caledonian received in the half-year the sum of £26,866 for the conveyance of mails. The affairs of the company are controlled by a board of directors, fourteen in number. As now extended, the Caledonian railway system covers a large portion of the railway map of Scotland, having Carlisle for its southern, and Aberdeen for its northern, terminus, touching on the W Portpatrick, Ayr, Kilmarnock, Wemyss Bay, Greenock, Stirling, Oban, Crieff, and Perth, and on the E Arbroath, Dundee, Edinburgh, Leith, Carstairs, and Peebles. The only districts of importance in the S of Scotland to which it does not reach are Nithsdale in Dumfriesshire, and the middle and western portions of Ayrshire, and that great Border and E district which the North British railway holds. North of Perth and Aberdeen the country is served by the Highland, Great North of Scotland, and allied railway systems. The various parts composing the Caledonian railway will be incidentally noticed under the parishes and counties where they occur, and here the general scope of the system will be detailed, proceeding from S to N. From Carlisle to Beattock the line, which was opened in 1847, passes through a richly varied district, chiefly pastoral and cheese-producing. Six miles of the line are in England, and between the junction with the North British Longtown branch at Gretna and the Gretna Junction, a bridge over the Sark brings the line into Scotland. At Gretna Junction the Glasgow and South-Western main line strikes off to Annan and Dumfries, the traffic into Carlisle being conducted under running powers. The next junction on the Caledonian system is at Kirtlebridge, where the Solway Junction line, sanctioned in 1864, branches off, crossing the Solway to Brayton, on the Maryport and Carlisle line. The portion of the Solway Junction railway N of the Firth was purchased by the Caledonian in 1873. The first town of importance on the main line is Lockerbie, where important lamb fairs and other stock markets are held, and where the line branches off to Dumfries, Stranraer, and Portpatrick. The Dumfries, Lochmaben, and Lockerbie Company was incorporated in 1860, to construct a line 14½ miles long, running through a pleasing district, opening up to view the numerous lochs which give the old burgh of Lochmaben its name, and giving Dumfries an important outlet to the N and E. The line was amalgamated with the Caledonian in 1865. Westward from Dumfries, to Castle-Douglas, the railway, 19¼ miles long, is in the hands of the Glasgow and South-Western Company, but from Castle-Douglas to Stranraer and Portpatrick the railway is worked by the Caledonian Company, and hence reckons as part of its system. There are running powers and ` facilities ' granted under statute to enable the two companies to work those dissevered lines. The Portpatrick railway, which, although worked by the Caledonian, is held by an independent company under acts passed in 1857 and 1864, provides an important connection with Ireland by means of the steamers between Stranraer and Larne, now the ` shortest sea route ' since the passage formerly maintained between Portpatrick and Donaghadee was given up. The total length of this railway is 62½. miles, including the branches to Stranraer and its harbour. Returning to the main Caledonian line, it is found to proceed northward through Annandale, till Beattock is reached. A line is (1881) projected to Moffat, 3 miles from Beattock, to bring that favourite spa into connection with the railway system. North of Beattock there are deep rock cuttings, and the line ascends on a steep gradient to the summit-level, where an elevation 1012 feet above the sea is reached, about 10 miles beyond Beattock. The basin of the Clyde is now reached, at the lower parts of which the Caledonian railway has its greatest source of traffic and revenue. At Symington, a branch to Biggar and Peebles, 19¼ miles long, is thrown off. This railway was constructed to Broughton, 8 miles, under an act of 1858, and in 1860 the extension to Peebles was authorised, and the line was amalgamated with the Caledonian in 1861. The main line is at this point, and for some distance northward, passing through a moorland and mountainous district, giving little promise of local traffic, but there are few parts of the railway system of the country where a larger or more important through traffic is carried. At Carstairs is an important junction. On the first construction of the line, it was merely the place where the lines for Edinburgh and Glasgow bifurcated, but it is now also the junction for the Lanark, Douglas, and Ayr route, and for a branch to Dolphinton, as well as a central goods and mineral yard for general traffic. The Dolphinton branch, 11 miles in length, was constructed in 1863. From Cleghorn, 3 miles beyond Carstairs, the Lanark and Douglas branch, authorised in 1860, leaves the main line, but the passenger traffic is now worked direct to Carstairs. In 1865, a line of 11 miles was authorised from Douglas to Muirkirk, and on the opening of the ` Ayrshire lines ' of the Glasgow and South-Western railway in 1872, running powers gave the Caledonian direct access to Ayr. The Edinburgh section of the original line is 27½ miles long, and is now augmented by a series of branches and extensions. At Midcalder Junction the railway is joined by the Cleland line, 31 miles, constructed in 1866 to afford a short route between Edinburgh and Glasgow. This extension, which was opposed by the North British, was eventually constructed under an agreement by which the Caledonian consented not to oppose further the Tay Bridge scheme and other works then contemplated by the North British Company. An arrangement subsists by which all through passenger traffic between Edinburgh and Glasgow is shared between the two companies in certain proportions irrespective of the number of passengers carried by each. Nearer Edinburgh, a loop line 5¼ miles, constructed in 1872, leads to Balerno and Currie, rejoining the main line at Slateford. In the immediate vicinity of Edinburgh various connections have been made, being loops to facilitate the transference of traffic from the Leith branch, etc. A junction with the North British was also made, having in view the transfer of the North of Scotland traffic to the Company's own station, instead of to the North British ' Waverley' station; but this junction has never been so used. The Granton and Leith branches, 6¼ miles in all, were constructed as goods lines merely under acts of 1857 and 1862, but in 1880 the Leith line was opened as a suburban passenger railway, with several stations, affording facilities to residents N and W of Edinburgh. The western breakwater at Granton harbour is used as a quay for railway traffic, and there, as well as at Leith docks, the company derives a large traffic outward and inward. The terminus in Edinburgh is at the W end of Princes Street, and the passenger station is as yet a temporary wooden erection. Large goods and mineral yards have been laid out at Lothian Road and Morrison Street. From Edinburgh, the Caledonian holds running powers over the North British railway to its own station at Larbert in Stirlingshire, and also over the Graugemouth branch- It is proposed (1881) to make a new and independent access to the latter port, where the company has promoted the construction of extensive dock and harbour works, and where the Forth and Clyde Canal has its eastern connection with the sea. This canal, which was acquired by the company in 1867, was opened from sea to sea in 1790, and is 37 miles in length, with a summit-level of 150 feet, reached by 20 locks on the E side and 19 locks on the W. The capital, on amalgamation with the railway, was £1,141,333, on which the railway company guaranteed a dividend of £71,333 annually, or 6¼ per cent., converted in 1881 to a 4 per cent. stock by the nominal increase of the capital at that rate to absorb the amount of the annuity. Reverting to Carstairs Junction, the western fork proceeds to Wishaw, at which point, as already indicated, the route follows, as far as Glasgow, lines made under powers taken as early as 1826, comprising 19 miles in all. Between Wishaw and Glasgow, and by means of branches to a large number of out lying places, the map here presents a complex network of lines, the greater part of which is in the hands of the Caledonian. The main trunk route to the N over which the 'limited mail' travels diverges at Coatbridge, proceeding to Castlecary and Lower Greenhill, where the Scottish Central section, subsequently referred to, carries the line to Stirling, Perth, etc. Approaching Glasgow from the S, the route principally followed until lately was by the old Garnkirk route, reaching Buchanan Street station. The Central station in Gordon Street, with a splendid bridge over the Clyde above Broomielaw and parallel to Glasgow Bridge, was opened in 1879, at a cost approaching two millions sterling, since which time both the S and N traffic, and the trains by the direct Cleland and MidCalder route to Edinburgh, have been conducted to the new station. After crossing the river on leaving Glasgow, this line follows the route of the Clydesdale Junction, constructed in 1845, and incorporated as part of the Caledonian original system. It must suffice to say that the Caledonian in this district possesses lines to Larkhall and Lesmahagow, Stonehouse, Strathaven, Hamilton, East Kilbride, etc., and numerous mineral connections over and above its passenger lines. The Greenock and Paisley railway, opened in 1841, was taken as part of the Caledonian system in 1847, under a dividend guarantee, with a separate board for financial purposes. In 1879 this board had a unique experience, having found it necessary to obtain an act of parliament to create new stock to replace an amount fraudulently issued by one of the officials, with the effect of permanently reducing the dividend on the stock thus augmented. The Wemyss Bay railway, 10 miles, was constructed in 1863, and is worked by the Caledonian, and, by means of an extensive service of steamers, provides a favourite route to the watering places of the Clyde and the West Highlands. By an act passed in 1869, the Caledonian became joint-owner with the Glasgow and South-Western of the line to Kilmarnock. The Scottish Central railway, projected in 1845, was completed from Greenhill to Perth in 1848, this portion being 45½ miles in length, and some additions were subsequently made to it prior to its amalgamation with the Caledonian in 1865, this amalgamation being carried after a fierce parliamentary contest. The extensions before and since amalgamation embrace a branch to Denny, 3 miles, and a branch to South Alloa, where a ferry across the Forth to Alloa is maintained. At Dunblane, the Dunblane, Doune, and Callander, 10½ miles, branches off- This line was projected in 1845, and was leased by the Scottish Central, being subsequently amalgamated by it, and so eventually brought into Caledonian hands. The importance of this branch has been increased by the construction of the Callander and Oban railway, 72 miles, separately noticed, which is worked by the Caledonian Company. Near Auchterarder, a branch to Crieff, 9 miles, strikes off from the main line, and forms a circular route with the Crieff and Methven Junction, 11½ miles, and the Methven and Almond Valley to Perth, 6 miles, both now included in the Caledonian railway system. At Moncrieff, the North British Perth line via Fife joins the Caledonian, running jointly into Perth Central station. This station is the key of the whole of the traffic in the N of Scotland, and is in consequence a railway centre of great importance. The Caledonian Company possesses two routes out of Perth, one by the Dundee and Perth, 201/2 miles to Dundee, and the other by Cupar-Angus to Forfar and Aberdeen. The line to Dundee, opened in 1847, was amalgamated in 1863 with the Scottish Central, and in 1865 with the Caledonian. From Dundee, the Caledonian holds the Newtyle line, 11 miles, which formerly left the town by a series of steep slopes worked by stationary engines, but was subsequently taken round by Lochee on better gradients, thus providing a line to that important suburb of Dundee. The Newtyle joins the other line from Perth, above referred to, near Meigle. The Dundee and Arbroath railway, 17 miles, was the first line in Scotland on which locomotives were used. It was opened in 1840, and at an early period in its history was leased to the Caledonian, by whom it was subsequently amalgamated as part of the Scottish NorthEastern system. In 1879, carrying out a scheme originally sanctioned when the Tay Bridge Act was passed, this line was converted into a ` joint ' possession of the Caledonian and North British companies, managed independently by a directorate elected by the two boards, so that this 17 miles forms an integral part of both systems. From the neighbourhood of Broughty Ferry is another cross line, joining the northern section from Perth. This is the Dundee and Forfar, or 'Forfar Direct' line, 17½ miles long.

The railways last described do not reckon as part of the 'through' route to Aberdeen, that being on the other line proceeding N from Perth. The first section of this route beyond Perth was constructed in 1847 as the Scottish Midland Junction line, reaching to Forfar 33¼ miles. A short distance from Perth this line receives on the left the Almond Bank and Crieff railway, already mentioned, and at Stanley Junction the Highland railway, which enjoys running powers over the Caledonian from this point to Perth, branches off. From Cupar-Angus, a branch leads to Blairgowrie, 5 miles this being part of the original scheme; at Meigle, a branch to Alyth, 5¼ miles, joins the main line, constructed under an act of 1868, and amalgamated with the Caledonian in 1875. Another branch, 3½ miles, goes to Kirriemuir, this having also been part of the original Midland Junction scheme. From Forfar on the one hand, and Arbroath on the other, there is a line, 15½ miles, originally a separate undertaking to unite those two towns, and opened as early as 1839. When the Aberdeen railway was projected, this line was incorporated as a fork, the railway to Aberdeen leaving at Guthrie Junction, and thus affording access to both the routes to Perth that have been described. The line to Aberdeen, 72 miles in all, embraces this Arbroath to Forfar fork, and branches from Bridge of Dun to Brechin, and Dubton to Montrose, with a triangle line at Guthrie to facilitate traffic with the diverging routes. In 1866 the whole of the lines now described from Perth to Aberdeen, which had already been associated as the Scottish North-Eastern, were incorporated with the Caledonian system. In 1860 there was constructed a line from Montrose to Bervie, 12 miles, which was worked by the Scottish NorthEastern, and afterwards by the Caledonian. In 1881, however, an act was passed amalgamating it with the North British railway, which had in the meantime constructed its Arbroath and Montrose railway, and became joint-owners, as already stated, of the Dundee and Arbroath line, the Bervie amalgamation thus making another step in the progress of that company towards an independent access to Aberdeen.

The district commanded by the Caledonian company is very much diversified, both as regards the scenery of the line, the character and occupation of the population, and the nature of the traffic drawn from the various sections. In no part of its system does it present memorable engineering works, although the difficulties of crossing some of the mosses on the original line from Carlisle, the solid rock tunnels on the Greenock line and at Moncrieff Hill, the heavy cuttings near Beattock, the romantic and adventurous route through Glen Ogle on the Callander and Oban line, the bridge over the Clyde at Glasgow, and the central station there may deserve special notice. In Glasgow it forms the principal means of communication between this centre of the cotton, iron, and shipbuilding interests of Scotland, and the famous mineral district of Clydesdale, in which the railway holds such a commanding position. At Greenock, Grangemouth, Granton, Leith, and Dundee, a large shipping trade is done, carrying coals and iron for export, and receiving a varied traffic in the imports from the Continent and America at those various ports. The line from Carlisle to Perth forms the main artery in Scotland of the great postal stream borne through the country by the ' limited mail,' and to Callander and Aberdeen the mail is carried forward by rapid trains, as it is beyond Stanley over the Highland line. As a passenger line the Caledonian takes high rank, its stations embracing all the 'eight large towns' in Scotland, as well as nearly every populous district in the kingdom. As an access to the picturesque parts of Scotland, the railway occupies a position of great advantage. It issues an extensive programme of routes for tourists, embracing, on its own line, Bothwell, ' Tillietudlem,' and the Falls of Clyde near Glasgow, with Edinburgh, Stirling, Perth, and Aberdeen amongst the attractive towns, and a journey of unexcelled interest through Perthshire and Argyllshire to Oban and the West Highlands. It also offers a series of circular tours through the highlands and islands by means of the steamboats and railway companies with which the Caledonian Railway Company is in alliance. It forms part of the west coast route of communication between England and Scotland, acting in close alliance with the London and North-Western Railway Company. In this relation the Caledonian enjoys a large share of the traffic to and from England, and a practical monopoly of the railway traffic between Liverpool and Scotland.

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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