Isle of Mull Railway

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Isle of Mull Railway

Postby DaveS » Thu Jun 09, 2016 2:32 pm

Over the last couple of years when sailing up the Sound of Mull I had noticed that the distinctive railway signal at Craignure was no longer present. The weekend before last I spent the weekend at Craignure with the mountaineering club, and on the Friday night I took the short walk via the campsite to the former station: all gone, and difficult to see where things used to be. Only the commemorative mountain indicator with its narrow gauge locomotive etchings gave reassurance that the previous existence of the railway was not imagined. On Saturday, after going up Dun da Ghaoithe, I returned to Craignure by the Torosay Castle estate road to avoid traffic and at one point this gave a view down to the engine sheds which appeared to be intact. Back at Craignure I dropped off my rucksack and went back to the station site. I got the impression that an attempt had been made to eliminate all trace of the former railway. With some difficulty the course of the line could be followed, although the track bed and ballast had been removed leaving a muddy ditch. After a detour round a large muddy pool I found ballast: this made walking the rest of the route easy. The ballast then split at the passing loop where the frame for the station sign and the rudimentary water cranes were still present. Shortly after this sleepers appeared in the ballast and they continued until I reached the engine sheds, where rails remained in the shed roads and on the short test track beside the derailed "main line". I turned back at this point so can't report on what if anything is left of Torosay station.

After getting back home I did some internet research which shed some light on the history. The Isle of Mull Railway (initially called the Mull and West Highland Railway) was a 10¼" (260 mm) gauge miniature railway which opened in 1983. It was built on land leased from Torosay Castle and intended to carry passengers the 2km from Craignure to Torosay, then open to the public. The obvious intention was to boost the castle's visitor numbers. How effective this was is not recorded: I know that on neither of my two rides on the railway did I visit the castle. In October 2010 the castle visiting times were significantly reduced and the railway closed. In 2011 a limited service operated from 27 May to 1 September, then the lease expired on 1 October. The castle was then up for sale and it was thought that a railway in the grounds conveying the public would not enhance its value. The track was lifted in October 2012 and placed in store in Oban, together with the distinctive Craignure signal and all rolling stock other than steam locomotive "Victoria" which was bought by the Rudyard Lake Steam Railway in the English Peak District. (Rudyard Kipling was apparently so named after this scenic piece of water.) Everything else was bought for an undisclosed sum by Simon Clark, a chemical engineer, who then spent considerable time trying to find a replacement home for the railway.

In 2015 he bought the Rudyard Lake Steam railway, combined the assets, and re-named it the Leek and Rudyard Railway. It would seem logical to assume that the intention is to re-use the Mull rails to extend this line towards Leek, with the rolling stock allowing additional services, but I found no mention of such plans on that railway's website.

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Re: Isle of Mull Railway

Postby Silkie » Thu Jun 09, 2016 5:56 pm

Thanks for that Dave.
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Re: Isle of Mull Railway

Postby claymore » Thu Jun 09, 2016 8:02 pm

The Spirit of Beeching lives on

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