Page 1a - The Early History -Ballochney Railway
Key to table colour coding
|Section of line or station Closed||Section of line open to Freight||Section of line or station open to passengers|
Route: From Kipps (M&K) to Ballochney and Clarkston, with later branch to Airdrie (1844).
Original Gauge: 4'-6"
Date of Gauge change to standard gauge: Completed 27th July 1847
To Monklands Railway Company: 14th August 1848
To North British Railway: 31st July 1865
To London and North Eastern Railway: 1923
To British Railways: 1st January 1948
Section of Route or Passenger Station
|Kipps (M&K)||Kipps Junction||1828||18/08/1971||01/05/1930|
|1828||18/05/1843||First Passenger Station in Monklands|
|1828||01/07/1959||01/05/1930||Commonhead Passenger Station was renamed Commonhead (Airdrie North) on 01/06/1886.|
|Commonhead||Airdrie (North) branch (Hallcraig St.)||26/12/1844||06/07/1964||12/1870|
Airdrie North Station
|06/12/1844||06/07/1964||12/1870||Closed to passenger services when new line to Bathgate opened. Station had been known as Airdrie (Hallcraig Street) up until 1890.|
|Rawyards||Calderbank Branch Junction (Boots Factory).||1828||09/06/1924||n/a||Line closure date taken as closure date of Calderbank Branch Signalbox. Line is shown intact in 1924 1" OS Map. A siding from Rawyards to Wheatholm Bakery (Watt St.) remained in 1936|
|Calderbank Branch Junction (Boots Factory).||Junction of Spur to Monkland Railways "New Line" (Denoted as "A" on the diagram left)||1828||28/02/1967||n/a|
|Spurs to "New Line"||Denoted as A - B (Brownieside Juction) and C -D on diagram to left||
|A-B: 28/02/1967 C-D: 01/12/1985||n/a||Brownieside Junction Signalbox closed 12/05/1963, but the junction remained as a ground frame controlled by Caldercruix Signalbox,|
|Old Formation||Denoted as A - D on diagram to left.||1828||1865(?)
(definitely pre 1899)
|n/a||Original formation of "Clarkston Branch" to Wester Moffat Pit - see also map at foot of page|
|Junction of deviation to "new line"||Wester Moffat Colliery||1828||01/12/1985||n/a||Line later served Moffat Mills (InverHouse Distillery)|
|Junction on Moffat Mills Branch.||Springbank Quarry||1828||29/09/1963||n/a|
|Calderbank Branch Jn.||Calderbank||11/1855||1939(?)||n/a||Constructed as part of "New Line" Act. Closure date is assumed to be concurrent with closure of Calderbank Iron Works|
|Dykehead Junction||Dykehead||1835||31/03/52||n/a||Closure date to Dykehead colliery siding|
|Dykehead||Darngavil||1841||31/03/52||n/a||Further extension to link with North Monkland Railway at Greengairs completed c1872 and closed around ????|
|Dykehead Junction||Ballochney Junction||1828||01/08/1956||01/05/1930||Line closed beyond Arden Peat Works 01/09/49.|
|Ballochney Junction||Ballochney Colliery||1828||(?)||n/a|
|Whiterigg Station||1862||01/08/1956||01/05/1930||Replaced earlier station at Arbuckle|
|Ballochney Junction||Whiterigg Ironstone Mine||1830||01/09/1949||01/05/1930||Later became end-on junction with Slamannan Railway)|
The entire route of this company's line is closed. The area around Kipps has either been built over and/or landscaped. This area is now part of Northburn Community Park, also known as the "Penny Project", (follow the link for more information). The Commonhead (or Ballochney) incline, now a cycle track, was at between 1 in 23 and 1 in 27, far steeper than the more famous inclines such as the Cowlairs or Lickey, and merits an entry in the Guinness Book of Railway records (see "Gradients" page for more details). Beyond the top of the bank only short stretches are discernible until you are clear of Airdrie after which the trackbed is mostly intact (underbridges excepted). If you know roughly what you are looking for, the course of the line can be seen. The view below shows the cycle track descending down the Ballochney Incline from Whinhall Road towards Coatbridge. To make some interesting comparisons, firstly visit www.old.maps.co.uk where by entering the appropriate location in the search menu you will find the 1864 O.S. map of the area, then in a new window open the present day maps at http://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/oswebsite/getamap/, where you can now zoom in to obtain current 1:25,000 Scale online maps. If you then note the grid reference at centre (this can be found beneath the map view) - for example Greengairs is NS 785 705, next open another new window and navigate to www.getmapping.com select the option to perform a search for a digital aerial photograph and scroll down to where the screen prompt you to "Enter an OS Landranger™ co-ordinate into the box and click the 'go' button". Enter the grid reference (without the spaces, so our example would be NS785705) and you will be rewarded with a detailed aerial view of the area as it is today to compare with the current and old map! This is how I managed to put together the composite image of the Ballochney terminus below. See if you can trace the lines on the ground today - you will have a job tracing the routes to the east of Airdrie, the recent growth of open cast mining has obliterated the path of the Dykehead branch completely and has swallowed up several lengths of the Slamannan route.
A common misconception in books and diagrams is the reference to the Leaend Branch. This "branch" would appear to have been nothing more than a siding where the original passenger terminus was established, 19th century authors not having the benefit of well established railway terminology. I have closely examined several old O.S. maps of the district and can find no trace of a line, or earthwork where a line had been, branching South from the main line in the vicinity of Leaend, which was a farm just to the North of the "main line". The fact that the Rochsoles branch, which served Dalmacoulter quarry left the main line at this point, makes me wonder if references to the branch had become confused, and that there was a branch at Leaend and not to Leaend. What may add to the confusion is that there was also a short branch, privately owned by Wm. Baird & Co., which left the main line at Mosside, which is about half a mile West of Leaend.
From 1828, for a short period, a horse drawn coach ran from there to the Forth & Clyde Canal at Kirkintilloch. Longer lasting was a passenger coach which ran from Lea End to connect with Garnkirk & Glasgow Railway trains at Gartsherrie. It was operated from 1831 until 1843.
The photograph on the right taken by Mr James F. McEwan in 1961, sourced from and used with permission of the © Victorian Times Project, 2003 It is credited on that site to show the track-bed, on the right, of the former Lea End branch. I disagree however, as there was a later formation built on this course to the Mosside Mine. The main line of the Ballochney Railway climbs towards Commonhead, and at the site of the bridge in the background I took the photograph looking back down the gradient towards Kipps.
John Thomas states in his book that the line "passed through Rawyards & Arbuckle to Ballochney", yet on the map on page 44 of the same book the branch to Arbuckle is shown leaving the Slamannan Railway to the east of the Ballochney terminus. This confused me for years as to where the terminus of this line lay. Tracing the course of the lines is made more difficult due to the fact that Arbuckle and Ballochney are the names of long disappeared mining districts which had derived their names from local farms which have survived the mines. Using the technique I describe above I drew up composite diagram below that shows exactly where the Ballochney terminus was situated in relation to todays landscape. To locate the site of the terminus of the Ballochney Railway go to grid reference NS790675 which is just north of the village of Plains.
Three views showing the decline and eventual disappearance of Commonhead
Station and Junction.
The branch remained to serve Airdrie North Goods
Station until 1964, after which the site was progressively flattened and is now
a public car park (see below). The branch also served a few local industries
such as Chapleside Foundry and the local Gas Works. For a while there was
also a sub-branch "The Drumbathie Branch Railway" which followed the
course of the South Burn through what is now Airdrie Central Park to reach an
ironstone mine adjacent to the Stirling Road. It is an impressive
fact that the passenger service between Airdrie and Kirkintilloch was suspended
for only two days, 26th & 27th July 1847, to allow for the change of gauge
from 4'-6" to 4'-8½"!.
For comparison, the lower left hand photograph taken in April 2002 from Northbridge Street shows the site of the junction as it is today. The cutting has been filled in leaving little trace of the railway, but there is a footpath that follows the course of the line all the way from Kipps to Rawyards. The gas holder of Coatbridge Gas Works can be seen in all three views.
|Hallcraig Passenger Station: (left), as it was in the late 1950's and (right) the site today, unsurprisingly occupied by a car park. The shops at the foot of Hallcraig street are largely unaltered.|
The Clarkston branch, which ran to Wester Moffat Pit, has been totally obliterated between the junction from the main line at Rawyards to beyond the Boots' Pharmaceuticals Factory. When the new line to Bathgate was opened this branch new spurs were added eventually splitting the original formation of the branch (shown in blue on the map below) in two. The first spur (shown in red) was built as part of the "new line" project and connected the Clarkston branch to the Bathgate line at Brownieside Junction, this was to allow traffic coming down from Bathgate direct access to the Calderbank branch (shown in green), also built as part of the same scheme. The Wester Moffat section was later connected via a spur to a junction on the Bathgate line facing Airdrie (possibly in 1865 when the North British took control of the system), this allowed the abandonment of the section of original formation which crossed the main Airdrie to Bathgate road on the level.(shown in magenta)
Reproduced from 1947 O.S. Map © crown copyright.
|Little trace is now left of Rawyards Station as the above main photograph shows. The inset photograph by W.A.C. Smith shows the the end of the house (in the red square) gives a point of reference to the present day view. The Signalbox was opened as "Rawyards West" in 1888, and according to the Register of Scottish Signal boxes was closed on the 4th of August 1958. This is at odds with the closure date of the Commnhead to Rawyards section in the Appendix to Scottish Branch Lines 1955-1965 by C.J. Gammell which is given as the 1st May 1956. This was also the junction of the Clarkston branch, the date of closure of the section to Calderbank Branch junction is unknown, but the signalbox at that location closed on the 9th of June 1924.||I am very grateful to Mariam Yamin of The Boots Company
PLC for kindly supplying this photograph of the Boots factory in Airdrie.
It clearly shows rail freight traffic in the sidings serving the factory.
The original formation of the Ballochney Railway's Clarkston branch would
have passed through the bay on the extreme right of the factory as shown
on the map above.
In March 1946 the Boots company acquired a 145 acre site at Airdrie, for £27,000 & on 15th November 1946, Mr John Boyd cut the first sod at the site, but it wasn't until April 6th 1949 that the new factory, equipped for light manufacturing and packaging, was formally opened by Mr Tom Johnson, formerly Secretary of State for Scotland.
(Photograph used with permission of The Boots Company PLC.)
|This is the bridge with takes Connor Street over that part of the formation of the Clarkston Branch built in 1855 to take the line to Brownieside Junction. The original branch veered off to the right of this picture to Wester Moffat. (See Map)||The original passenger station in Clarkston was situated just to the west of Towers Road, and as the main photograph shows a cycle path has now been built on the formation of the Monkland Railways "New Line" built in 1855 and finally closed in 1985|