Ballasalla railway station
|Ballasalla Railway Station
Stashoon Balley Sallagh
Isle Of Man Railway
|Address||Station Road, Ballasalla, IM9 2FR.|
|Line(s)||Port Erin Line|
|Structure type||Station Building & Water Tower|
|Platforms||Two, Raised (One Goods, Disused)|
|Tracks||Two Running Lines & Two Sidings|
|Opened||1 August 1874|
|Closed||1967 Only (Seasonal Since 1965)|
|Owned by||Isle Of Man Heritage Railways|
|Formerly||Isle Of Man Railway Company|
|Passenger Only (Since 1965, Goods Previously)|
|Toilets, Waiting Room, Booking Facilities
Ballasalla Railway Station is located in the village of Ballasalla in the south of the Isle of Man, close to the airport, and is served on a seasonal basis by the Isle of Man Railway. It forms part of the sole remaining section of the once extensive network that operated across the island and is the usual crossing point for trains, making it popular with photographers.
The original wooden station was built in 1874 (to the same design as that still extant at Santon, the previous halt on the line). Being a market village the station soon acquired cattle docks and goods platforms. The original building was demolished in 1985 and replaced. A brick building housing a small ticket office and waiting area was built in 1985 and was opened in 1986 by Jack Nivison, the former President of the Legislative Council of the Isle of Man and MHK for Middle. Prior to this, the station, along with many other intermediate stopping places on the line, did not provide passenger platforms. The new building however was built at platform height, and was capable of holding a five-coach train, later increased to seven. The station also possesses a stone-built water tower and crossing keepers' hut, the latter was extensively modified to house the now-defunct mechanical station gates. A crossing keepers' house on the other side of the road now forms a private dwelling. In 2002 the opposite side of the line also received a full-length platform, which also serves the goods siding and a modern bus shelter was also installed; the platform edging used had previously been employed for the former South Line departure roads at Douglas Station and was retained for future use when lifted in 1979. There was also a goods shed on the site and this was a reused wooden building originally from the prisoner of war camp at Knockaloe in the west of the island which was also served by the railway during the first world war.Although now extensively modernised and not really recognisable as the station that existed until 1985, it remains one of the most picturesque settings on the line and is popular with photographers who get the opportunity to take images of two trains at once, as this station is now the only crossing place in use on the line: after timetable changes in 2001 there are no further crossing trains at Castletown railway station.
Prior to the nationalisation of the railway in 1978 a number of initiatives were experimented with by the railway company with a view to cutting back on expenditure to keep the railway alive and for this reason Ballasalla Station was (for one season only) the terminus of the line, with a short operation between here and Port Erin being the only service in 1976. The previous year the line was shorter still, only offering travel between Port Erin and Castletown and it was largely due to campaigning by locals that services extended this far. The Isle of Man Steam Railway Supporters' Association led a campaign to have the line fully reinstated. Happily, in 1977 the line opened once more in its entirety and has remained open ever since on a seasonal basis. Prior to this time, many goods and freight train services also terminated here, with the nearby local weekly mart being an extremely busy local event. With the village being surrounded by farms, the mart provided a vital source of income for the railway and the facilities that featured here were a testament to its once bustling location. In 2010 the railway's inaugural Teddy Bears' Picnic special trains were also based here, although train services operated through to Port Erin as normal rather than dedicated trains terminating here. With its run round facilities and water tower, the station is occasionally used for special hire services that connect with the local hostelry. Everyday service trains however do not terminate here, but all halt.
At the time the railway arrived here the road was little more than a pack-horse road and at the point where the line met this it was fitted with traditional level crossing gates. A gatekeeper's house and small lodge were also built: these both still stand, the former is now a private house whilst the latter remains extant though out of use. It was not until the 1960s that the wooden manually operated gates were replaced with far larger mechanical gates, and the small gate lodge modified to accommodate the "wheelhouse" and this takes the form of a small signal box-type structure in a position above the road to increase visibility for the person operating the gates. A series of inter-connected rods beneath the road protected by large metal plates were also extant though when the whole crossing was relaid in 2000 these were removed and a standard concrete crossing installed. These gates were opened and closed by a large ship's wheel structure which remains in situ. These distinctive gates were a feature of the line and survived until 2001 when, in line with a health and safety ruling, they were removed and replaced with automatic barriers which are now operated by the station staff from the platform for departing trains and by treadle activated by trains approaching from a southerly direction. The barriers now in operation tower above the site when in the "off" position, these being long enough to block both carriageways when in use. The crossing is also protected by colour lights to warn motorists of approaching trains, and a set of repeater lights on the exit to Silverburn Way further alert motorists approaching from a southerly direction.
This station serves the local attraction of Silverdale Glen, a small pleasure park with its own boating pool and water-powered merry-go-round with refreshment rooms. This is a 15 minute walk from the station and was once very popular making the station busy. The attraction is open throughout the year and is a popular destination for model boat enthusiasts who use the shallow boating lake out of season. In season there are both rowing boats and hand-operated peddle boats, popular for many years. In the past there has also been a large indoor model railway layout here where coin-operated trains were a feature. There was also a grotto-type walk through feature that boasted its own illuminated gnomes in a forest environment. Today the cafe and restaurant are a popular stopping off point and travellers on the railway find its location ideally suited for a day out by rail, the short distance to the station and pleasant glen between the two locations being tailored for the purpose. The tree-lined glen that joins the village proper with the pleasure park features its own wishing well and leads directly to the other nearby attraction, part of the Story of Mann located at Rushen Abbey. The pathways in this area form part of the Millennium Way, an island-wide public right of way created in 1979 to commemorate one thousand years of the island's parliament and it climbs beyond this point to the centre of the island.
The national heritage site at Rushen Abbey is also a short walk from the station; once a popular venue for dancing and famed for its cream teas, it later became The Academy nightclub and fell into disrepair before being developed as a major historical attraction. The earliest origins of the site can be dated to the tenth century when Savignac monks from Furness Abbey established a site here, later falling to Cistercian rule when the two orders merged. The nearby abbey church is dedicated to St. Mary but is approximately one hundred years younger than the abbey proper. Dissolved by the 16th century, by the early nineteenth century the ruins were marketed as a tourist destination served by the railway and famous for the strawberries and cream before World War II. After several years in different guises it was bought by Manx National Heritage in 1998 and excavated over the following years. It is now a heritage site and one that is popular with rail travellers when open (between April and October). A small visitors interpretation centre leads to the abbey gardens where there are interactive displays as well as audio and video material. An area designated for children is also available, where you can build a monks' arch among other activities. The popularity of this attraction is such that signs on the platform alert passengers that it is the correct station to alight to visit it. A further large sign in the car park gives details of the directions to the site.
Above the station in a westerly direction are the occupational crossings serving Ballahick and Ballawoods farms; these were until 2001 manned by seasonal gatekeepers but the installation of automatic barriers saw this practice discontinued. The office development that adjoins the station was once the extensive goods yard. This was sold off to create the extant developments in 1985 at which point the original station building dating from 1874 was demolished. A row of local authority housing appears to the southwesterly side of the station next to the level crossing keepers' hut and beyond this lies the Silverburn Estate, a housing development dating from the late 1960s and early 1970s. Beyond this the village has its own public house, The Whitestone, a hairdressers, florists, general store and post office as well as primary school and a nursing home. This village is also the home of the headquarters of the local authority, Malew Parish Commissioners and their offices are next door to the public house off the main road. The station is the nearest to the island's only airport at Ronaldsway although the following request stop also serves this facility. An industrial estate on the site of the nearby Balthane Farm is home to a number of local businesses and also provides access to the runways and a footpath at the beach. Above the station is agricultural land and the farms of Ballawoods and Ballahick both of which have associated occupational crossings which bisect the railway's route. The name of the village translates from the Manx Language Balley Sallagh translating literally as Place Of Willow and trees of this species are much in evidence in the surrounding area.
|Preceding station||Isle of Man Railway||Following station|
|Ronaldsway||Port Erin Line.||Santon|
- Isle of Man Railway stations
- Rushen Abbey
- Malew Football Club
- Silver Burn
- Ronaldsway Airport
- James I.C. Boyd Isle Of Man Railway, Volume 3, The Routes & Rolling Stock (1996) ISBN 0-85361-479-2
- Norman Jones Scenes from the Past: Isle of Man Railway (1994) ISBN 1-870119-22-3
- Robert Hendry Rails in the Isle of Man: A Colour Celebration (1993) ISBN 1-85780-009-5
- A.M Goodwyn Manx Transport Kaleidoscope, 2nd Edition (1995)