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John Speller's Web Pages - North British Railway
Invergarry & Fort Augustus Railway
Why would a short-lived line in the wilds of Scotland be of any interest to anyone? The Invergarry & Fort Augustus Railway is interesting because it was the legacy of a dream that the Glasgow & South Western Railway once had of building a railway line from Glasgow along the Great Glen to Inverness. The 23-mile-long Invergarry & Fort Augustus Railway, which was authorized by an Act of 1896 and opened on 22 July 1903, had been intended to be part of this route to Inverness. The North British Railway, and the Highland Railway in particular -- for they had so far maintained a monopoly over Inverness -- strongly opposed the G&SWR's plans for a rival route. The Highland Railway, getting the upper hand, helped the Invergarry & Fort Augustus company to complete its line and worked it when it first opened. It did not, however, prove viable for the Highland to work the line, which was detached from the rest of their system, so on 1 May 1906 the working of the line was transferred to the North British Railway, who worked it as a branch of the West Highland line, with which there was a double junction at Spean Bridge. The line ran north for 23 miles from Spean Bridge, through Gairlochy, Invergloy, Invergarry and Aberchalder to Fort Augustus. At Fort Augustus there was a jetty where tourists could board steamers to enjoy the beauties of Loch Ness and live in hope of seeing the fabled monster. The rest of the line to Inverness was never built, which is a pity since it would have been of considerable strategic importance in the First World War. Even the Fort Augustus line was of some strategic use in the Second World War. Although the line was very useful to the isolated communities it served, and had a connection with Glasgow and the rest of Britain via the North British Railway at Spean Bridge, it could hardly have been expected to pay its way and it closed for a time on 31 October 1911. The North British Railway reopened the line on 1 August 1913 and bought out the bankrupt company a year later. After the Grouping the LNER closed the line to passenger traffic on 1 December 1933, and goods traffic also ceased on 1 January 1947, after which the track was pulled up.
North British Railway Fort Augustus branch train in 1908 comprising a single coach behind one of Dugald Drummond's "R" Class bogie tanks (LNER Class "D-51")
Railway Clearing House Junction Diagram of Spean Bridge, 1909. Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons
Invergloy Station
The steel lattice Oich Viaduct on the Invergarry & Fort Augustus Railway in a Highland Railway postcard of 1903
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