John Speller's Web Pages - North British Railway
West Highland Railway
The West Highland Railway runs from Helensburgh (where it connects with the Glasgow, Dumbarton & Helensburgh Railway to Glasgow, and thence to the Edinburgh & Glasgow Railway to Edinburgh) to Mallaig on the west coast of Scotland. The Act of Parliament authorizing the line passed on 12 August 1889, and construction began on 23 October 1889. The line opened as far as Fort William on 7 August 1894. The Mallaig Extension Railway completed the line from Fort William to Mallaig and was authorized on 31 July 1894 but did not open until 1 April 1901. The West Highland Railway was worked by the North British Railway, which absorbed it on 21 December 1908. The line is famous for its spectacular scenery, heavy gradients and concrete viaducts. Videos of the line may be seen [1] here , [2] here , , [3] here and [4] here. For a stunning trip over the whole line, see here. A BBC documentary of the line made in 1960 may be seen here; note the appearance of the old Fort William station, which has since been rebuilt.
Map of the West Highland Railway
Glenfinnan Viaduct, West Highland Railway. Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons
Matthew Holmes (1844-1903), Locomotive Superintendent of the North British Railway 1882-1903, designed the "N" Class 4-4-0 (LNER Class "D-35") for the opening of the West Highland line in 1894. They had 5 ft. 7 in. wheels for coping with the heavy grades of the West Highland section
When the "D-35"s came due for scrapping Gresley at first drafted in "K-2" Moguls from the Great Northern section. Later in 1937 he produced the 3-cylinder "K-4" Class 2-6-0 with small 5 ft. 2 in. driving wheels specially for the West Highland line. No. 3442, "The Great Marquess," has been preserved. Image copyright Peter Broster and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons License
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