John Speller's Web Pages Wigtownshire Railway

John Speller's Web Pages - G&SWR
Wigtownshire Railway
The Wigtownshire Railway was incorporated by an Act of 18 July 1872 to build a 19-mile line from Newton Stewart on the Portpatrick Railway to Whithorn with a short branch from Millisle to Garlieston. The Chairman was the Earl of Galloway. The line opened from Newton Stewart to Wigtown on 2 August 1875, with the Garlieston branch following on 3 April 1876 and completion to Whithorn on 9 July 1877.

Meanwhile, Thomas Wheatley (1821-1883) had been having a less than successful career. Following a fatal accident on the Midland Railway on 19 October 1845 which was in fact due to the imperfections of the locomotive, Wheatley, who was the driver, had unjustly been found guilty by an ill-informed jury of manslaughter. In spite of this he rose to be Locomotive Superintendent of the North British Railway. In October 1874, John Monteith Douglas, who was something of a busybody among the Directors of the NBR, discovered some minor financial irregularities in the accounts of Cowlairs Works. The chaos in the finances of the Locomotive Department was probably no worse than on the rest of the North British, a notoriously poorly managed railway, but Wheatley was left little option but to resign. At the end of July 1875 he was appointed the General Manager of the Wigtownshire Railway, and, much loved by the local population, ran the line until his death on 13 March 1883. The gross receipts of the line were only about 7,500 a year, so Mr. Wheatley can hardly have made a fortune from the line, but he seemed devoted to it.

Following Wheatley's death in 1883, the Caledonian Railway temporarily took over working the Wigtownshire Railway until 6 August 1885, when it was vested in the Portpatrick & Wigtownshire Joint Railway (Joint LNWR, MR, GSWR and CR). It passed to the LMS on 1 January 1923. The line closed to traffic under the Beeching Axe on 5 October 1964.
Map of the Wigtownshire Railway
Wigtownshire 2-4-0 well tank locomotive No. 1 "Albert." This was one of 2-2-2 well tanks purchased by Thomas Wheatley from the North British Railway at the time of his appointment as General Manager in 1875, and converted to 2-4-0 well tanks by Wheatley and his son. The livery of the Wigtownshire Railway was black lined out with vermillion, but the lining looks black owing to the pre-panchromatic film
Wigtown station in a postcard view of around 1905
Whithorn station with a passenger train standing at the platform in around 1890 behind a Caledonian Railway "486" Class 0-6-0 saddle tank
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