scotland (4K)
The Friends of the Far North Line
Cairdean Na Loine Tuath
the campaign group for rail north of Inverness - lobbying for improved services for the local user, tourist and freight operator

150 years ago - Will the railway come to Inverness?

Is Inverness to have its railway? In England and the south of Scotland scarcely a week elapses without one or two fresh schemes for extending railway communication; and every town that can boast a population of four, three or even two thousand inhabitants, has, or is to have, its branch line. The question therefore, arises, what is the best plan that has been devised for extending railways to Inverness?

Towns the size of Inverness may, perhaps, ordinarily take up eight or ten passengers to each train, and out of this number not more than one or two will travel the whole length of the line.

It is true that, from the visitors that congregate in the Highlands in the summer months, Inverness may be considered as offering rather an exception to this statement; but it must be remembered that the Caledonian Canal will always attract a great number of people who would prefer that route to travelling by railway.

Reprinted by courtesy of the Inverness Courier, 11.11.1852

100 years ago - The Opening of the Highland Railway

It is now exactly 40 years since the then "Inverness and Perth Junction" Railway was opened throughout. The date was Wednesday, 9th September, 1863. It was quite a red-letter day for Inverness. There would be no more trouble with the Great North, no further Keith, a great saving of time and money would be effected, by passengers going south or coming north. For days there was almost nothing talked of but the "new line to Perth". The building of this line was pushed forward with great energy. The 103 miles from Forres to Dunkeld were divided into five different contracts, and placed in the hands of as many firms of contractors. Some of the directors were constantly on the move, more particularly Mr T. C. Brace, who had taken great interest in the line all through, with the result that in less than two years the railway was opened for traffic. The more exposed parts were built by Messrs Macdonald and Grieve - from Struan to county march - and the winter of 1862-63 being very stormy, it was with difficulty the men could be got to work for four hours on end, on account of the intense frost.

The opening day, however, was finally fixed for 9th September, and trains were dispatched from both ends in terms of advertisement. The first train to start from BIair Atholl was a goods train, much too heavy for the light engines of the day, and between Struan and Dalnacardoch, with a gradient of about 1 in 65 and 70, the driver found that he had undertaken more than he could possibly accomplish. He came to a standstill, and only succeeded in wasting steam; no water could be procured near at hand, and it was proposed to extinguish the fire. A number of willing hands, however, set to work, and procuring pails, buckets and tubs, carried water from the River Garry and supplied the engine.

Reprinted by the courtesy of Inverness Courier 15.9.1903

125 years ago - The Autumn Sheep Traffic on the Highland Railway

During the months of August, September and. the first half of the month of October, there is every year an extraordinary sheep traffic on the northern railways. July Wool Market purchases are delivered, and the removals from the hills to wintering quarters take place.

Last year the number of sheep trucked at stations between Georgemas Junction and Struan in the above period was greater than at any former year, and it is gratifying to learn that this year's numbers are greater even than last year's.

Between the 1st of August and the end of last week there were sent south from the stations on the Highland, the Dingwall and Skye, Sutherland and Caithness Railways no fewer than 132,840 head of sheep, as compared with 107,071 within the same period last year.

It will be interesting to know the numbers from each of the districts through which these railways run.

Reprinted by courtesy of the Inverness Courier 24.10.1878