John Speller's Web Pages Maidens & Dunure Railway

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Maidens & Dunure Railway G&SWR Horizontal

The Maidens & Dunure Light Railway

The Maidens & Dunure Light Railway was a delightful little line serving the coastal resorts on what is sometimes called the Carrick Coast between Ayr and Girvan, and in particular the hotel and golf course at Turnberry. Video of the hotel can be seen in this LMS official film of 1937. Other tourist attractions include Burns's cottage at Alloway and the picturesque ruins of Dunure Castle. The Ayr Burns Club was active in discussions about the construction of the railway, trying to ensure that it would pass through Alloway in a way that was convenient without detracting in any way from the character of the neighborhood. The 19-mile line was authorized under the Light Railways Act in 1899, graded in 1901 and purchased and completed in 1906 by the Glasgow & South Western Railway. The engineer of the line was Alexander Melville, who had to cope with difficult terrain involving the construction of no fewer than 65 bridges, 20 viaducts and 6 culverts. The intermediate stations between Girvan and Ayr were Dipple, Turnberry, Maidens, Dunure, Glenside, Balchriston Level Crossing Halt, Knowside, Heads of Ayr and Alloway. The Turnberry station was a grander affair than the rest, with steel and glass canopies. With the rise of the motor car the line declined rapidly after World War I and regular passenger service was withdrawn in in 1930, though the Turnberry was still served by the the occasional train and the part of the route to Heads of Ayr was subsequently reopened following the construction of a Butlin's Holiday Camp, then closed and then opened again and finally closed in 1968. Freight service over part of the line ceased in 1955 and over the rest in 1959. The Maidens & Dunure line largely duplicated the inland line from Ayr to Girvan via Maybole, and it is reasonable that one or other of these lines should have eventually been closed. Since, however, the coastal Maidens & Dunure route was considerably shorter than the inland line and also had more potential as a tourist route, it might have made more sense to upgrade the coastal line and close the inland one.
The standard style of station on the Maidens & Dunure Light Railway was an attractive wooden chalet design, of which this example at Dunure was typical
The station at Alloway, birth place of Robert Burns, shortly after opening
The Turnberry Hotel, built by the Glasgow & South Western Railway and opened with the Maidens & Dunure Light Railway in 1906 was said to be the finest hotel in Scotland
Official photograph of the viaduct over Rancleugh Burn at the time of opening. The 90 ft. high viaduct had two main spans of 100 ft. and three approach spans on each side of 56 ft.
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