Ballymena, Cushendall and Red Bay Railway

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Ballymena, Cushendall
& Red Bay Railway
16 mi 20 ch
26.15 km
13 mi 40 ch
21.73 km
11 mi 20 ch
18.11 km
Cross Roads
9 mi 60 ch
15.69 km
8 mi 20 ch
13.28 km
Clough Road
6 mi 60 ch
10.86 km
6 mi 00 ch
9.66 km
4 mi 00 ch
6.44 km
2 mi 60 ch
4.43 km
0 mi 00 ch
0 km

The Ballymena, Cushendall and Red Bay Railway was a 3 ft (914 mm) narrow gauge railway between Ballymena and Retreat,[1] both in County Antrim, in what is now Northern Ireland. It operated from 1875 to 1940.[2]


The line in 1906

The railway line was incorporated in 1872,[3] opened in May 1875 and was the first narrow gauge railway in Ireland to be sanctioned by Parliament. It was essentially a mineral railway which ran for 1614 miles from Ballymena to Retreat. It served iron mines in the area, which were connected to the mainline by sidings and branch lines, some of which were owned by mining companies. Initially it was financially successful, but later the market collapsed and in October 1884 it was taken over by the Belfast and Northern Counties Railway (BNCR),[2] the sale having been approved by Parliament on 14 July 1884.[3] In 1886 the first passenger trains were introduced, which terminated at Parkmore, some 234 miles from Retreat.[2]

For most of the route from Ballymena trains had to struggle against the gradient taking 50 minutes for the northbound journey and returning in 40 minutes. The summit at Essathohan siding was 1,045 feet (319 m) above sea level, the highest point reached by an Irish railway. To reach the tourist areas of Cushendall and Glenariff, passengers had to hire road transport from the Parkmore terminus. At the start three Black Hawthorn 0-4-2ST engines were used, but these were replaced by the BNCR. Passengers were transported in tramway type bogie carriages. Passenger traffic ceased in 1930 and goods traffic ceased in 1940.[2]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ 55°04′52″N 6°03′50″W / 55.081°N 6.064°W / 55.081; -6.064
  2. ^ a b c d e Baker, Michael HC (1999). Irish Narrow Gauge Railways. A View from the Past. Ian Allan Publishing. ISBN 0-7110-2680-7.
  3. ^ a b "Ballymena, Cushendall & Red Bay Railway Organisation". Trainweb. Retrieved 28 October 2007.
  4. ^ a b "Ballymena, Cushendall & Red Bay Railway Line". Trainweb. Retrieved 28 October 2007.

Coordinates: 54°51′47″N 6°16′41″W / 54.863°N 6.278°W / 54.863; -6.278