Lanarkshire and Ayrshire Railway

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Lanarkshire and Ayrshire Railway
Clydesdale Junction Railway
Hamilton Branch (CR)
Newton East Junction
Newton West Junction
Kirkhill Junction
Glasgow Central Railway
Clydesdale Junction Railway
Kirkhill Tunnel
Cathcart East Junction
Cathcart District Railway
Cathcart (CDR)
Cathcart West Junction
Cathcart District Railway
Busby Railway
Clarkston East Junction
Clarkston West Junction
Lyoncross(never opened)
Paisley and Barrhead District Railway
Netherton Goods
Glasgow, Barrhead and Kilmarnock Joint Railway
Lugton South and East Junctions
Lugton High
Lugton (GB&KJR)
Lugton South JunctionGB&KJR
Gree Goods
Barmill and Giffen North Junctions
Glasgow, Barrhead and Kilmarnock Joint Railway
Giffen South/Kilbirnie Junction
DM Beith
Lissens Goods
Glasgow, Paisley, Kilmarnock and Ayr Railway
Glasgow, Paisley, Kilmarnock and Ayr Railway
Kilwinning (GPK&AR / AR)
Kilwinning Junction
Bogside Moor Halt
Bogside (GPK&AR)
Irvine (GPK&AR)
Glasgow, Paisley, Kilmarnock and Ayr Railway
Ardeer (Nobel)
Ardeer (Iron)
Stevenston (AR)
Stevenston Moorpark
Ardrossan Railway
Saltcoats North
Largs Branch
Ardrossan Town (AR)
Ardrossan North
Ardrossan Montgomerie Pier
Ardrossan Harbour (AR)
Ardrossan Winton Pier (AR)

The Lanarkshire and Ayrshire Railway (L&AR) was a railway company in Scotland built in the late 19th century that provided services between Ardrossan and Glasgow, with branches to Irvine and Kilbirnie. The line was operated by the Caledonian Railway with an aim to compete with the Glasgow and South Western Railway (G&SWR).[1] The line was extended in 1905 from Giffen to Newton,[2] and in 1923 the line was merged, along with its G&SWR counterpart, into the London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMSR).

As a result of a single company now owning two lines travelling to the same locations, the L&AR lines were closed off in stages, starting with the branches to Irvine and Kilbirnie in 1930.[3][4] The last section of the line to close was from Stevenston to Ardrossan in the late 1960s. Only the line north of Neilston is still open today, as part of the Cathcart Circle Lines. Although the rest of the L&AR has long since been lifted, various embankments, viaducts, former station houses and abandoned platforms mark the route on which train passengers were once carried.[5]


1883–1897: Early days[edit]

The first train timetable for the line in 1888

The Lanarkshire and Ayrshire Railway began life as the Barrmill and Kilwinning Railway, which was to be a 6.5 mile line running from Barrmill station on the Glasgow, Barrhead and Kilmarnock Joint Railway to a junction just north of Kilwinning station on the former Glasgow, Paisley, Kilmarnock and Ayr Railway.[6] To this effect, the 'Barrmill and Kilwinning Railway Act' received Royal Assent on 20 August 1883.[6] However a year later a heavily modified act was submitted to Parliament, including extensions to Ardrossan, Irvine, Ardeer Ironworks, Eglinton Ironworks and Kilbirnie. A change of name for the company was also approved, and so the 'Lanarkshire and Ayrshire Railway Act' received Royal Assent on 28 August 1884.[7] Robert McAlpine was chosen as contractor for the construction of the line.[8]

The opening ceremony for the railway took place on 3 September 1888 at the Ardrossan station, with a special train service running to Glasgow that day. Full passenger services began on 4 September 1888.[8] The branch to Kilbirnie was opened on 1 November 1889 for goods traffic and opened to passengers on 2 December 1889,[9] and the branch to Irvine was opened the following year on 2 June 1890. Ardrossan Montgomerie Pier station opened on 30 May 1890.[9]

Stations opened during this period[10]
Date Stations opened
3 September 1888 Ardrossan, Auchenmade, Kilbirnie Junction (later Giffen), Kilwinning, Saltcoats, Stevenston
2 December 1889 Glengarnock, Kilbirnie
2 June 1890 Irvine
30 May 1890 Ardrossan Pier

1898–1923: Further extensions[edit]

The Gree Viaduct in 2007 (demolished in February 2008), on the former line between Newton and Giffen

Fierce rivalry with the Glasgow and South Western Railway meant that in 1898 construction began on a further extension of the line from Giffen to Newton. This meant that the Caledonian Railway would be able to avoid use of the Glasgow and Kilmarnock Joint Railway, and therefore avoid sharing revenue with the G&SWR.[2]

After five years of construction the new branch opened on 1 May 1903 with several new stations along the route, many of which were duplicates of stations on the joint line.[2]

Stations opened during this period[10]
Date Stations opened
1 May 1903 Lugton, Muirend, Neilston, Patterton, Uplawmoor, Whitecraigs
1 August 1904 Kirkhill
1 September 1906 Brackenhills
The site of the goods station at Lissens in 2007

1923–1970: A premature end[edit]

The duplication of lines and stations would soon become worthless when both the Caledonian and Glasgow and South Western Railways were merged as part of the larger London, Midland and Scottish Railway group in 1923. Many stations had to be renamed so as not to become confused with their former G&SW counterparts. With too many lines serving the one area and no competition, the first closures on the line occurred in the summer of 1930 when the Irvine branch was closed to passenger services,[3] with the Kilbirnie branch closing to all traffic later that same year (although freight services to Glengarnock continued until 1945).[4] On 4 July 1932 all stations from Ardrossan North to Uplawmoor were closed to passenger services.[11]

A half buried bridge near the site of the Saltcoats station

Passenger and freight services to Montgomerie Pier continued for many years, and with the closure of the Stevenston to Kilwinning East section in June 1947 a link was created between the remaining line to Montgomerie Pier and the former G&SWR Glasgow line just to the west of the branch to Ardeer station.[11] This link was eventually closed to all traffic in 1968, and was completely lifted in 1970. A section of track from the site of Ardrossan North station remained joined to the former Ardrossan Railway. This section of track was used by the Shell Bitumen plant at Ardrossan Harbour.

Stations closed during this period[10]
Date Stations closed
28 July 1930 Bogside, Irvine
1 December 1930 Brackenhills, Glengarnock, Kilbirnie
4 July 1932 Ardrossan, Auchenmade, Giffen, Kilwinning, Lugton, Saltcoats, Stevenston
2 April 1962 Uplawmoor
6 May 1968 Montgomerie Pier
The disused DM Beith line near Barrmill in 2005

Present day[edit]

Today the only operational section of the Lanarkshire and Ayrshire Railway is the line between Newton and Neilston, which was electrified in the early 1960s, and sees regular passenger services as part of the Cathcart Circle Lines. Various landmarks of the railway still exist throughout the former route, for example a large viaduct remains to the north of Kilwinning, now used as part of the National Cycle Network. Two other prominent viaducts, namely the eleven arch span Gree viaduct and the seven arch span Giffenmill viaduct were both located between the former Lugton and Giffen stations and survived into the 21st century. This was short-lived as the Giffenmill viaduct was demolished in September 2006,[12] with the Gree viaduct demolished shortly afterwards in February 2008, over five years after permission for its demolition was granted for a second time.[13]

The viaduct to the north of Kilwinning in 2006

Also in the area is a single track running from Lugton which follows the Glasgow, Barrhead and Kilmarnock Joint Railway line to Beith until it reaches Barrmill, where it then heads south through Giffen to DM Beith along the original route of the L&AR before the 1905 extension was built. This track, mostly relaid in the 1950s, was used for freight by DM Beith, however it fell into disuse in 1996.[12]

Company directors[edit]

At the time of the railway opening in 1888, the company directors were:

  • G. R. Vernon, M.P. (Chairman)
  • J. C. Cuninghame
  • The Earl of Eglinton and Winton
  • R. W. Knox
  • James Neilson
  • Archibald Russell
  • John Watson
  • John Cunninghame

Railway map[edit]

The following map illustrates the route of the Lanarkshire and Ayrshire Railway in 1906:

Connections to other lines[edit]

The remains of the bridge that carried the line over the former Ardrossan Railway until 1947 at Stevenston



  1. ^ Wham, page 62
  2. ^ a b c Thomas, page 94
  3. ^ a b Stansfield, page 27
  4. ^ a b Stansfield, page 28
  5. ^ Wham, page 68
  6. ^ a b Awdry, page 60
  7. ^ Awdry, page 85
  8. ^ a b Thomas, page 92
  9. ^ a b Thomas, page 93
  10. ^ a b c All tabled opening/closing dates from Butt, R.V.J. unless otherwise noted
  11. ^ a b Stansfield, page 31
  12. ^ a b Beith Online - Giffen Viaduct
  13. ^ "North Ayrshire Council - Planning Committee Report". 2004-04-05. Retrieved 2007-08-27. 


External links[edit]

Tait, W. A. P. (1891). "The Lanarkshire and Ayrshire Railways. (Abstract)". Minutes of the Proceedings 105 (1891): 298. doi:10.1680/imotp.1891.20492.  edit