Arbroath and Forfar Railway
|Arbroath and Forfar Railway|
It opened in 1838–1839 and perhaps due to its low fares, it was remarkably successful. It used the track gauge of 5 ft 6in, although it was converted to standard gauge later. It was later absorbed by the Caledonian Railway, and as a lateral, local route its importance was submerged by the later trunk lines.
A little over a mile of the original line north from Arbroath forms part of the present-day main line, but the remainder is now closed.
Arbroath Town Council initially considered the construction of a canal in 1817 to link the two towns, but this was quickly abandoned before construction began, and little was done for another 19 years, when an application to Parliament for the legislation required to build a railway line was submitted.
Before the line opened, the traffic of the district was inadequate to support a single road coach. Nonetheless it was incorporated on 17 May 1836,[note 1] with share capital of £70,000 and borrowing powers of £35,000. A second Act was passed in 1840 authorising an additional £55,000 of capital.
Whishaw reports that
We were much surprised, when examining this line in September last, to see a party of reapers travelling by the third-class railway-carriages in preference to walking to their work; and we found on enquiry that this was by no means an isolated case, but of everyday occurrence. In fact, with the low fares adopted on this line, it is more economical for the poor man to ride than to walk.
The line ran from "near the harbour" at Arbroath, broadly north to the kirk at St Vigean's (where the present-day line diverges right); the line then continued north-west to "Friockham" [sic: actually Friockheim] and then west to Guthrie and Forfar. The Forfar station was in the angle between Playfield (which became Victoria Street) and Bailiewellbrae Road (now Carsburn Road).
Whishaw later states that the Arbroath station was at "Catharine Street" (i.e. Catherine Street); this is not near the harbour, but it appears that Catherine Street was the passenger station and there was an extension of the line to serve the harbour for goods traffic purposes. This seems to be confirmed by Cobb. The Dundee and Arbroath Railway opened to Arbroath in 1838 but had a separate station nearby, without any rail connection initially. Awdry refers to the Arbroath and Dundee railway having a branch to "Almericloss"; this may be a typographical error, and seems to refer to the Dundee and Arbroath station.
The line rose about 221 feet from Arbroath to Forfar: the steepest gradient was 1 in 130, and the curvature was gentle. The length of the line was a little over 15 miles. Although opened as a single line, the formation was made for a double line.
In common with the neighbouring Dundee and Arbroath Railway, it had a track gauge of 5 ft 6in. Whishaw reports that the engineer, Mr Grainger,
considers the English gauge [of 4ft 8½in] too narrow, and the Great Western gauge [of 7ft 0¼in] too wide; he has, therefore, taken something like a mean, which would enable him to allow sufficient space for the proper construction of the locomotive engines, and also afford more useful space in the carriages.
The track was formed of parallel (i.e. not fish-belly) rails of 48 lbs per yard on timber cross-sleepers. The turntables were 12 feet in diameter. (This refers to wagon turntables, commonly used at this date for siding connections.)
Apart from the terminal stations, there were six intermediate stations though, at the start, "no great expense had been incurred in the erection of intermediate station-houses".
Cobb indicates that the intermediate stations were Colliston, Leysmill, Friockheim, Guthrie, Auldbar Road, and Clocksbriggs.
At the beginning there were three locomotives, Victoria, Britannia and Caledonia, all six wheeled tender engines, with five foot driving wheels and 3 ft 6in carrying wheels. They had outside cylinders and inside bearings. All three proved to be exceedingly reliable.
The carriages were of three types: "Mixed" with a central first-class compartment and second class at each end, "Second" class only and "Third" class only. The first class compartments were glazed, while the second class were provided with curtains. The third class were without roofs but had seats.
It passed into the hands of the Aberdeen Railway 31 July 1845, and was later leased in perpetuity to the Caledonian Railway, although it retained its separate identity until the grouping of the railways in 1923.
Connections to other lines
- Scottish Midland Junction Railway at Forfar North Junction
- Dundee and Forfar Direct Line at Forfar East Junction
- Aberdeen Railway at the triangular junctions of Glasterlaw Junction, Friockheim Junction and Guthrie Junction
- North British, Arbroath and Montrose Railway at St Vigean's Junction north east of Arbroath
- Dundee and Arbroath Railway close to Arbroath (new) and Arbroath (Catherine Street)
Apart for the section between Arbroath (new) and St Vigean's Junction operated by Network Rail, with passenger services primarily operated by First ScotRail as the Edinburgh to Aberdeen Line, the railway is closed.
- "Arbroath Probus Club". Arbroath Herald (Johnston Press). 29 November 2013. p. 24.
- Christopher Awdry, Encyclopaedia of British Railway Companies, Patrick Stephens Limited, Wellingborough, 1990, ISBN 1-85260-049-7
- E F Carter, An Historical Geography of the Railways of the British Isles, Cassell, London, 1959
- Leslie James, A Chronology of the Construction of Britain's Railways, 1778–1855, Ian Allan, Shepperton, 1983, ISBN 0-7110-1277-6
- Francis Whishaw, The Railways of Great Britain and Ireland Practically Described and Illustrated, 1842, reprint 1969, David & Charles (Publishers) Limited, Newton Abbot, ISBN 7153 4786 1
- Angus Heritage, on website page The Forfar Witches at
- Col M H Cobb, The Railways of Great Britain -- A Historical Atlas, Ian Allan Publishing Limited, Shepperton, 2003, ISBN 0-7110-3003-0
- According to James; Whishaw says 19 May 1836
- N.Ferguson, (2000). Arbroath & Forfar Railway and the Dundee to Forfar Direct Line. Oakwood Press. ISBN 978-0-85361-545-3.
- Jowett, Alan (March 1989). Jowett's Railway Atlas of Great Britain and Ireland: From Pre-Grouping to the Present Day (1st ed.). Sparkford: Patrick Stephens Ltd. ISBN 1-8526-0086-1. OCLC 22311137.
- March 1843 timetable from Bradshaw's Railway Monthly (XVI)
- "Arbroath and Forfar Railway". RAILSCOT. Retrieved 2008-10-22.