Cork, Blackrock and Passage Railway
The Cork, Blackrock and Passage Railway was a 3 ft (914 mm) narrow gauge railway in County Cork, Ireland. It was originally opened in 1850 as a 5 ft 3 in (1,600 mm) railway between Cork and Passage West, but was converted to 3 ft (914 mm) gauge in 1902. An extension southwards from Passage West to Crosshaven opened in 1904. The railway closed in 1932 and has since been replaced by a public pathway and nature area.
The railway operated along the west bank of the River Lee and Cork Harbour from Cork to Blackrock and Passage West. Thereafter the 1904 extension headed inland towards Carrigaline before running alongside the south bank of the Owenabue River to Crosshaven.
Stations were :
- Cork Albert Street railway station (replaced the earlier Cork Victoria Road railway station)
- Show Ground Halt railway station
- Blackrock (CBPR) railway station
- Rochestown railway station
- Passage railway station
- Glenbrook (CBPR) railway station
- Monkstown railway station
- Rafeen railway station
- Carrigaline railway station
- Crosshaven railway station
The initial, northern, part of the railway (Cork to Passage West) was less than 7 miles (11 km) long; it opened on 8 June 1850. The station at Cork was originally located at City Park, but relocated to Albert Park in 1873 (close to the Albert Quay station of the Cork, Bandon and South Coast Railway). Three steam locomotives were built. The company also operated ferries, but lost a considerable part of the traffic from Cobh following the opening of a direct railway from Cobh to Cork in 1862.
The 7 miles (11 km) of track provided insufficient revenue for the company. To improve profitability, the company decided to build a 9½ mile extension to Crosshaven. To reduce construction costs, the extension line would be built to narrow gauge and the original section converted. The last broad gauge train operated in October 1900.
Four new narrow gauge locomotives were built for the line by Neilson Reid in Glasgow. Upon rebuilding to narrow gauge, the section between Cork and Blackrock was converted to double track - unique on an Irish narrow gauge railway. The CB&PR had a busy commuter traffic (to and from Cork).
The southern extension from Passage West to Monkstown opened on 1 August 1902 and the final section to Crosshaven opened in 1904; the extension included a tunnel at Passage and large lattice viaduct near Crosshaven. The cost of the extension (£200,093 or around €18M 2007/8 equivalent) was considerably more than the company had originally estimated; the works were carried out just at the time when the railway started to experience serious competition from the Cork Electric Tramways and Lighting Company, which included services to Blackrock (via Blackrock Road) and Douglas.
The company's fortunes started to seriously deteriorate in 1914 due to disruption caused by conflict. This compounded the difficulties caused by competition from the electric trams.
World War I
The line ran close to several naval installations, notably at Haulbowline. Crosshaven station was closed on security grounds, heavily curtailing revenue. In 1917 the Government took over control of all railways in Ireland for the remainder of the War.
Irish Civil War
The railway suffered extensive damage during the Irish Civil War of 1922-1923. The workshops at Passage were damaged. The viaduct at Douglas was partly destroyed, but was repaired (mainly by engineers of the Irish Army).
In 1924 the company was incorporated into the Great Southern Railway. As an economy measure, the double track section of the railway was singled in 1927. Competition from motor buses started to become intense (and the Cork tramways were also affected, closing in 1931).
The section between Monkstown and Crosshaven closed on 31 May 1932. The rest of railway closed on 10 September 1932. Upon closure, some of the line's steam locomotives were transferred to the Cavan and Leitrim Railway.
Since the closing of the railway, the line has been paved over to serve as a recreational walkway, with lighting and benches put in place. Two bridges were put in place along the Rochestown area of the path for pedestrians.The Albert Road station building has survived. It was for many occupied by Metal Products Ltd. who operated a factory producing nuts, bolts and other metal components. It is currently occupied by Carey's tool hire company. The section of former rail between Albert Road and the Atlantic pond has been mostly removed. From the Atlantic Pond to Rochestown a paved footpath follows the route of the rail line. The rest of the walkway to Passage consists of a gravel walkway that follows the river. There is evidence of the rail line between Passage and Monkstown, then onto Carrigaline. From the eastern edge of Carrigaline town the walkway continues to the outskirts of Crosshaven.
Along the route you can still see various remains of the original rail line. The Blackrock signal house and platform are still intact, it is located under the bridge on the Blackrock road close to Blackrock church (the house is now privately owned). The bridge over the Douglas estuary, between Blackrock and Rochestown is still standing, although it had fallen into disrepair until the late 1990s when extensive repair work was completed. The remains of the Rochestown platform can be seen from the Rochestown road, opposite the pub "The Rochestown Inn". At various points on the route from Passage to Monkstown and Carrigaline, smaller bridges, old water towers and tunnels are visible. Along the length of walkway from Carrigaline, signal lights for the trains have been restored and line the Owenabue River to Crosshaven.
Work began in May 2017 to improve the path that connected to the Marina Park, as well as the park itself. For the path, from the pedestrian bridge over the South Ring Road, just passed the Rochestown area, to the park, construction is taking place to improve the surface of the path, maintenance of trees along the path, as well as install new walkways down from footpaths in areas above.
- Cork and Muskerry Light Railway
- List of narrow gauge railways in Ireland
- Schull and Skibbereen Railway
- Jenkins, S.C. (1993). The Cork, Blackrock and Passage Railway. ISBN 0-85361-405-9.
- Creedon, Colm (1992). The Cork Blackrock & Passage Railway and River Steamers 1850 - 1932.