Caledonian Railway

Caledonian Railway

The Caledonian Railway was a major Scottish railway company operating in Scotland. It was formed in the early 19th century and it was absorbed almost a century later into the London, Midland and Scottish Railway, in the 1923 railway grouping, by means of the Railways Act 1921. Due to legal complications this did not take place on 1 January 1923 when the majority of the amalgamations took place, but was delayed until 1 July 1923 (along with the North Staffordshire Railway).


The company was well supported by Glasgow and Edinburgh shareholders, however more than half of its shares were held in England.Robertson (1983) ] It was an integrated railway company, in that it built and owned both the railway lines and the trains. It had a locomotive works, St. Rollox railway works, in Springburn, Glasgow, which became part of British Rail and is currently still in use, as a railway maintenance depot.

The company was formed in the 1830s to link local railways around Glasgow and Edinburgh to the railway network in England, at Carlisle. It sought to open the only cross-border main line (it was thought that only one main line was needed). Its "empire" was then extended to cover the triangle: Glasgow, Stirling and Edinburgh; and later reached out to serve Oban, Ballachulish, Dundee, Perth and Aberdeen.

In the Scottish Lowlands it competed against both the Glasgow and South Western Railway (G&SWR) and the North British Railway; but, in the case of the G&SWR, not north of the River Clyde.pre-Grouping Atlas] There was little or no competition north of Oban, Ballachulish, Dundee, Perth and Aberdeen; this area was served mainly by the Highland Railway.pre-Grouping Atlas]

Early history

The earliest railways in Scotland and England were unconnected. Before the Caledonian railway, the quickest journey between Glasgow and London would have been Glasgow to Liverpool by sea and then Liverpool to London by train. However, from March 1841 it was possible to catch the train between Glasgow and Greenock, then travel between Greenock and Liverpool by sea; and then to London by train (see below).Thomas (1971).]

A railway link from London to the north of England was developed in piecemeal fashion. From about 1838 the London and Birmingham Railway had linked those two destinations; the Grand Junction Railway linked Birmingham to Warrington; the North Union Railway was projected to reach Preston; and the Grand Junction Railway intended to extend the line to both Glasgow and Edinburgh. They got their engineer Joseph Locke to survey a route from Carlisle. The obvious way was to follow Thomas Telford's coach road through Annandale and Clydesdale.Thomas (1971), pp 137 - 141] He did not believe a locomotive could climb the hills at Moffat and his preferred route was a longer route through Nithsdale to link up with the Glasgow, Paisley, Kilmarnock and Ayr Railway. However Locke was persuaded to resurvey the Annandale route.

This route was opened up as a railway line, the Caledonian Railway. The Caledonian wished to ensure that it was the only railway line built between Carlisle and Scotland, but they did not succeed in this. Two other lines were opened from Carlisle: these rival lines were the Glasgow and South Western Railway to Glasgow and the Waverley Line to Edinburgh.

After the Caledonian main line opened in 1849 it was possible to travel between London and Glasgow, by express train, without needing to change trains. It cut the total journey time to 12.5 hours.

The main line

:"main article Caledonian Railway Main Line"

Branches in Dumfries and Galloway

A branch of the Caledonian railway, known as the Solway Junction Railway, at Kirtlebridge, led down to Annan and crossed the Solway Firth, by a 1,940 yard (1,791 m) viaduct, to Bowness-on-Solway and Whitrigg.Awdry, Page 103] The line was opened, with Caledonian Railway backing, completely by 8 August 1870. The Scottish part was bought by the Caledonian Railway on 5 August 1873; and the whole line on 6 July 1895. It joined up with the Maryport and Carlisle Railway. This line sought to bring iron ore, hematite, from Cumberland to the Lanarkshire steelworks. It was successful, but the iron ore started to run out by the end of the 19th century.

Another branch of the Caledonian railway at Lockerbie, known as the Dumfries, Lochmaben & Lockerby Railway (sic), led to Dumfries, with intermediate stations at Lochmaben, Shieldhill, Amisfield and Locharbriggs.Awdry, Page 72] The line opened on 1 September 1863, with Caledonian Railway backing, and it was bought by the Caledonian Railway on 31 July 1865.

The Caledonian gained running rights over the Glasgow and South Western Railway's Castle Douglas and Dumfries Railway, between Dumfries and Castle Douglas; and hence from Castle Douglas to Portpatrick, Stranraer and Stranraer harbour over a jointly owned line, the Portpatrick and Wigtownshire Joint Railway, which was formed on 6 August 1885.Awdry, Page 99] This allowed the Caledonian to run Irish boat trains from the south without having to go though Ayrshire.

A branch, the Moffat Railway, just over one mile (1.6 km) and 5 furlongs long, ran between Beattock and Moffat.Awdry, Page 94] It was opened on 2 April 1883 and was taken over by the Caledonian, by Act of Parliament, on 11 November 1889.

Branches in Peebles and South Lanarkshire

* The Symington, Biggar and Broughton Railway led from the main line at Symington to Broughton. The Caledonian acquired it in 1861 and the line was extended to a new station at Peebles West, the extension opening in 1864.Awdry, Page 106] They ran the "Tinto Express" in competition with the North British Railway's "Peebles-shire Express".
* A branch to Lanark.

* There were several Caledonian Railway branches that had an end-on-junction with branches of the Glasgow and South Western Railway (G&SWR).
* These included:
# a branch from Lanark to Douglas, Douglas West, Inches and Glenbuck railway stations; with an end-on-junction to Muirkirk railway station, on the G&SWR's branch from Cronberry.
# a branch from Stonehouse railway station to Strathaven Central, Douglas, Ryeland and Drumclog railway stations; with an end-on-junction to Loudonhill railway station, on the G&SWR's Darvel Branch.

River Clyde and Clyde Coast branches

outh side

On 9 July 1847, the Caledonian amalgamated with the Glasgow, Paisley and Greenock Railway (GP&G), which allowed it to gain access to coastal shipping services at Greenock and to enter into direct competition against the G&SWR's shipping services. The section between Glasgow and Paisley, the Glasgow and Paisley Joint Railway, which opened in 1841, was jointly owned with the Glasgow, Paisley, Kilmarnock and Ayr Railway (GPK&A) (later to become part of the G&SWR). Both the GP&G's and the GPK&A's Glasgow terminus was Bridge Street railway station, adjacent to the River Clyde; and this remained so for another 60 years due to difficulties in obtaining agreement from the Admiralty to build bridges over the Clyde.

In 1873 the Caledonian Railway finally obtained an Act to build a railway bridge across the Clyde, and initially planned to widen Glasgow Bridge and use part of this; however, their plans were changed in 1875, when a new Act was obtained to build a separate railway bridge. A four track railway bridge was built by Sir William Arrol across the Clyde. By 1879, construction work had been completed on Glasgow Central station and Bridge Street station was also rebuilt. The Caledonian Railway mainline services to London were transferred from Buchanan Street railway station to Central Station. Bridge Street station however remained the terminus of the Caledonian Railways Clyde Coast services until Central Station was rebuilt 1901 - 1905. It then closed.

In 1862 the Greenock and Wemyss Bay Railway was authorised. It opened on 13 May 1865 and in August 1893 it amalgamated with the Caledonian Railway, having been operated by the Caledonian Railway since its opening.Awdry, Page 78]

The opening of the Greenock and Ayrshire Railway by the G&SWR in 1869, against the opposition of the Caledonian Railway, led to a price cutting war between the Caledonian Railway and the G&SWR.

North side

The Glasgow Central Railway was a six mile (10 km) underground railway passing through Glasgow from east to west.Thomas]

The Lanarkshire and Dunbartonshire Railway, from the West End of Glasgow along the north shore of the River Clyde, to Dumbarton, was vested in the Caledonian Railway on 1 August 1909 by Act of Parliament.Awdry, Page 85]

Expansion lines of around Glasgow and Paisley

In addition to the early lines, such as the Glasgow and Paisley Joint Railway and the Glasgow, Paisley and Greenock Railway which opened in the early 1840s, both Glasgow and Paisley saw a huge railway expansion which continued into the early 1900s. Many of these lines were built as part of the rivalry between the Caledonian Railway and the Glasgow and South Western Railway to gain passengers and goods at the other's expense.

The Paisley and Barrhead District Railway was vested with the company under an Act of Parliament on 31 July 1902,Awdry]

Lines built by the Caledonian Railway included:
* Busby Railway (absorbed by the Caledonian in 1882)
* Cathcart District Railway, also known as the Cathcart Circle Line. Operated by the Caledonian Railway.
* Lanarkshire and Ayrshire Railway from Newton to the Clyde Coast at Ardrossan.

There were also interests in several Joint Railways in the Glasgow area:
* Caledonian and Dunbartonshire Junction Railway
* Glasgow, Barrhead and Kilmarnock Joint Railway

Edinburgh and Lothians

The Caledonian Railway entered Edinburgh on 15 February 1848 when the Edinburgh branch of the Caledonian Railway Main Line opened from Carstairs to a terminus at Lothian Road. This was the first line to open between Edinburgh and England, beating the rival North British Railway which was unable to operate through trains to the south until completion of the Royal Border Bridge in 1850. Services between Edinburgh and Glasgow were also possible, if somewhat indirect, and a period of ruinous competition with the established Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway began.

Seeking a share of the lucrative goods traffic generated by Leith and Granton docks, the Caledonian built a connecting line from Slateford Junction to Haymarket on the Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway, hoping to access the docks over E&G metals. However, the latter firm was not prepared to co-operate with its competitor. When it opened in 1853 the Haymarket branch served industrial premises and a bay platform on the south side of the E&G‘s Haymarket station. This platform was also used by Scottish Central Railway passenger trains from Stirling and the north, which reached the city by way of running powers from Larbert to Haymarket East Junction. These powers were subsequently exercised by the Caledonian, after its acquisition of the Scottish Central in 1865. The Haymarket branch did not achieve its original purpose until 1964 when British Rail opened a short connection from Duff Street Junction to Haymarket East Junction, allowing trains from the Caledonian line to reach Waverley station.

A second attempt to reach the docks resulted in a goods line to Granton Harbour opening on 28 August 1861. The branch was originally owned jointly with the Duke of Buccleuch, who wanted to end the North British Railway’s monopoly at Granton. It left the Haymarket branch at Granton Junction, and at the Granton end a connection was made with the NBR’s Granton branch. This connection served as the main interchange point for goods traffic between the Caledonian and NBR systems in Edinburgh until the Slateford-Craiglockhart curve was opened by BR in 1960.

Leith Docks were eventually reached on 1 September 1864 with the opening of a branch from Crewe Junction on the Granton branch to North Leith. Opening on the same day, a curve between Pilton East and West Junctions allowed direct Leith-Granton movements, and a curve from Dalry Junction on the main line and Coltbridge Junction on the Granton line allowed direct trains from Lothian Road to the two ports.

A direct route from Glasgow opened on 9 July 1869, joining the main line at Midcalder. This allowed the Caledonian to offer a more convenient passenger service between the two cities, although by this time competition for this traffic was no longer so intense.

By now the main terminus at Lothian Road was inadequate, and passenger services were relocated to a new terminus at Princes Street station, slightly further up Lothian Road, on 2 May 1870. On 3 July 1876 a new connection from Haymarket West Junction to Dalry Middle Junction allowed trains from Stirling to reach Princes Street, and Caledonian trains ceased to use Haymarket station. Princes Street station was rebuilt and enlarged in the 1890s, and the railway-owned Caledonian Hotel opened in 1903.

Suburban passenger services between Princes Street and North Leith commenced on 1 August 1879. These had required the construction of new passenger lines parallel to the goods lines between Newhaven Junction and the new passenger terminus at North Leith.

Further branches to Balerno and Barnton opened on 1 August 1874 and 1 March 1894 respectively, these places being rural villages at the time. The Balerno line was actually a loop, paralleling the Carstairs/Glasgow main line between Balerno Junction (west of Slateford) and Ravelrig Junction. The Barnton branch originated at Craigleith Junction on the Leith/Granton line. Both lines had passenger services to Princes Street as well as local goods traffic.

The Caledonian’s last new line in Edinburgh was part of the ill-fated Leith New Lines project. The line which was built originated at Newhaven Junction on the North Leith branch, and ran south east around the edge of Leith, before turning north towards a new terminus at South Leith and a spur from Seafield Junction to the eastern docks. It opened to goods traffic on 1 August 1903. The unbuilt second phase of the project was to have been an ambitious underground line through the city centre to create a circular route for suburban passenger services. However the City Council strongly objected to plans for cut and cover tunnels through the New Town, and by the time the first phase was complete the company had lost interest in the expensive suburban circle proposal due to the level of competition from trams and cable cars. Later, during World War II, a connecting line was built between Seafield Junction and Meadows Yard on the LNER's South Leith branch.

The Central Scotland lines

The core of the Central Scotland Lines came as a result of the absorption of the Scottish Central Railway in 1865.

Argyle and Perth

Callander and Oban Railway

The Callander and Oban Railway was an independent railway company but it was supported by the Caledonian Railway.Awdry, 64 - 65] The Caledonian railway company ran the train services, but the line remained independent until it was taken over by the London, Midland and Scottish Railway at Grouping. An extension from Connel Ferry to Ballachulish was authorised on 1 August 1896 and opened on 24 August 1903.

The Crieff Lines

Crieff Junction Railway

The Crieff Junction Railway connected the main line from Stirling to Perth at Gleneagles to Crieff.

Perth, Almond Valley & Methven Railway; and Crieff & Methven Railway

Around one and half miles north of Perth, was the junction with the Perth, Almond Valley & Methven Railway. This line was added to by the Crieff & Methven Railway to reach Perth from the east.

Lochearnhead, St Fillans and Comrie Railway

This line connected Comrie to the Callander and Oban Railway at Balquhidder Junction south of Lochearnhead.

Crieff and Comrie Railway

This line connected the line entering Crieff from the south and east to the Lochearnhead, St Fillans and Comrie Railway at Comrie.

Chief Mechanical Engineers

* Robert Sinclair 1847-1856
* Benjamin Connor 1856-1876
* George Brittain 1876-1882
* Dugald Drummond 1882-1890
* Hugh Smellie 1890
* J. Lambie 1890-1895
* John F. McIntosh 1895-1914
* William Pickersgill 1914-1923

ee also

*List of early British railway companies
*Caledonian Railway Single
*Caledonian Railway 72 Class
*Caledonian Railway 498 Class
*Caledonian Railway 782 Class
*Caledonian Railway 812 Class
* Locomotives of the Caledonian Railway

External links

* [ The Caledonian Railway Association]
* [ The Caledonian Railway on RAILSCOT]




* No Author, (1980). "British Railways Pre-Grouping Atlas and Gazetteer". 5th Edition, Shepperton: Ian Allan Ltd. ISBN 0-7110-0320-3.

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