Downpatrick and County Down Railway

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Coordinates: 54°19′34″N 5°43′19″W / 54.326°N 5.722°W / 54.326; -5.722

Downpatrick & County Down Railway
DCDRcolourcrestsmall.jpg
The DCDR crest, based on the crest design of many Irish railway companies
Locale Northern Ireland
Commercial operations
Name Belfast & County Down Railway
Built by Belfast & County Down Railway
Original gauge 5 ft 3 in (1,600 mm) Irish Gauge
Preserved operations
Operated by Downpatrick & Co. Down Railway
Stations 4
Length 4 miles (6.4 km)
Preserved gauge 5 ft 3 in (1,600 mm) Irish Gauge
Commercial history
Opened 1859
Closed 1950
Preservation history
1985 Work Starts On Preserved Railway
1987 First Public Trains Run
1995 South Line extended To Magnus' Grave
2005 North Line extended to Inch Abbey
2014 Carriage Gallery officially opened
Downpatrick and
County Down Railway
Belfast & County Down Railway
to Belfast
Inch Abbey
River Quoile
Downpatrick
Downpatrick Loop Platform
King Magnus' Halt
Ardglass Line
Ballydugan(proposed)
Belfast & County Down Railway
to Newcastle

The Downpatrick & County Down Railway is a heritage railway in County Down, Northern Ireland. The project is based at Downpatrick, on part of the former route of the Belfast & County Down Railway.

The railway, which has a triangular layout, connects two local tourist attractions, Inch Abbey to the north, and a locally famous Viking site ('King Magnus' Grave') to the south, and will eventually reach an 18th-century corn mill to the south near Ballydugan. It is the only operational Irish standard gauge (5' 3") heritage railway in the whole of Ireland.

History[edit]

Local architect Gerry Cochrane M.B.E. was inspired to start the scheme after taking a walk along the route of the line, and by 1982 had gained support to rebuild part of the line as a heritage steam railway from the local council.[1] Lord Dunleath, whose father had purchased the railway trackbed adjacent to his estate after the closure of the BCDR in Downpatrick, gave the newly formed society a package of land on which to build the line and station for a peppercorn rent. This was on the approaches to the old Downpatrick station, which had been demolished in the 1970s. Work started on rebuilding the railway in 1985, with public trains finally running in the town again in December 1987,[1] making it the first Irish gauge heritage railway in Ireland to carry passengers over its own track. Track has been relaid on nearly 6 km (4 mi) of Belfast and County Down Railway trackbed, and a 1.6 km (1 mi) extension south to the hamlet of Ballydugan has been proposed.

The railway began life as the Downpatrick & Ardglass Railway, as the original intention was to extend the railway to this fishing port on the south coast of County Down. This name was dropped in 1996 following the abandonment of this proposal and the railway was renamed the Downpatrick Railway Museum until 2005 when the new name, Downpatrick & County Down Railway was adopted following the opening of the Inch Abbey extension.[1]

The Downpatrick & County Down Railway was the subject of a BBC1 Northern Ireland 40-minute documentary, "Raising Steam", which was broadcast on Monday 14 January 2008.[2] It has also appeared in numerous other TV productions by BBC, UTV, RTÉ and independent programme makers, and most recently as a location for the James Gray directed film, the The Lost City of Z.

O&K No. 1 at Downpatrick

Operations[edit]

Approximately 5 km (3 mi) of 1,600 mm (5 ft 3 in) Irish standard gauge track are open as of 2016, along which a steam locomotive, O&K No. 1, and 1950s-60s era diesel locomotives are run, drawing preserved rolling stock. Passenger trains are usually operated with brake/generator standard class coach 3223, which was built in 1954 by Córas Iompair Éierann, and brake/standard class coach 728, which was built in 1951 by the Ulster Transport Authority. Stock is added to or withdrawn from the 'running set' as maintenance allows. Older carriages built by the Great Southern and Western Railway and Belfast and County Down Railway were operated on the line until they were moved elsewhere on site for display or maintenance.

The railway also operates one of the prototype BR-Leyland Railbuses, RB3, which was modified in the early 1980s to run on Irish metals and was used for a period by Northern Ireland Railways. The railway has also been donated several items of stock by Irish Rail, such as Sligo, Leitrim and Northern Counties Railway Railcar B, built in 1947. This railcar is in poor condition and it will be some time before the DCDR can return it to operational condition. A second O&K steam locomotive is also under restoration. 1875-built 0-6-0 tank engine, GSWR No.90, which was delivered to Downpatrick in October 2007 after overhaul at the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland's workshops in Whitehead, Co Antrim, is Ireland's oldest operational steam engine. A mainline diesel locomotive, CIÉ A class No.A39, was moved to the railway in November 2009. This locomotive is on loan from the Irish Traction Group. ITG-owned 141 class locomotive No.146 joined the railway's fleet in late November 2010. [3]

In 2009, the Carriage Gallery was completed, which has created an interactive museum in which the public can enjoy the railway's collection of carriages in varying states for repair from immaculately restored to ex-hen house condition. The Carriage Gallery was officially opened by the Earl Of Wessex in 2014.

The railway also aims to have an at least partially operational mechanical signalling system, using the preserved King's Bog and Bundoran Junction signal cabins along with multiple semaphores that are on the site. Related to this is the Double Track Project, which will allow simultaneous operation on the North and South lines.

Every year, the DCDR operates the following trains:

  • Saint Patrick's Day Specials, which are held on Saint Patrick's Day and operate to Inch Abbey
  • Easter Specials, which take place over a couple of days around the Easter Period, and operate to Inch Abbey
  • May Day Specials, which take place on May Day and operate to Inch Abbey
  • Summer Specials, which take place every weekend during summer and operate to Inch Abbey
  • Halloween Specials, which take place on the weekend prior to, and on, Halloween night, and operate to Magnus' Grave
  • Santa Specials, which take place on the weekends prior to Christmas, and operate to the Loop Platform
  • Mince Pie Specials, which take place on the last weekend of the year, and operate to Magnus' Grave or Inch Abbey - these are usually diesel-hauled

Bank Holidays, private charters and film contracts make for extra trains throughout the year too.

List Of Stock[edit]

Steam Locomotives
Number Wheel Arrangement Build Date Original Operator Current Status Photo Notes
1 0-4-0T+WT 1934 Irish Sugar Company In Service Downpatrick.jpg Overhauled at Whitehead by RPSI. Arrived at Downpatrick in 2012.
3 0-4-0T+WT 1935 Irish Sugar Company Under Overhaul Downpatrick Nummer 3 (1).jpg Boiler moved to Whitehead in January 2016 for overhaul.
90 0-6-0T 1875 Castleisland Railway/GSWR On display in Carriage Gallery - Awaiting Overhaul No. 90, Downpatrick.JPG On loan to DCDR from Irish Rail. Originally built as a railmotor.
Diesel Locomotives & Multiple Units/Railcars
Number Class Build Date Original Operator Current Status Photo Notes
E421 E421 Class 1962 CIÉ On display in Carriage Gallery - Awaiting Overhaul E421 At Downpatrick.JPG Named W.F. Gillispie OBE
E432 E421 Class 1963 CIÉ Awaiting Overhaul Downpatrick 1.jpg -
G611 G611 Class 1961 CIÉ Stopped Awaiting Attention Downpatrick 2.jpg Owned by the Irish Traction Group
G613 G611 Class 1961 CIÉ Undergoing Overhaul G613 (Deutz).jpg Privately Owned
G617 G611 Class 1962 CIÉ Operational Downpatrick 3.jpg Owned by the Irish Traction Group
A39 A (001) Class 1956 CIÉ Operational A39r, Downpatrick.JPG Owned by the Irish Traction Group. Currently numbered A39R.
146 B (141) Class 1962 CIÉ Operational 146, Downpatrick.JPG Owned by the Irish Traction Group
C231 C (201) Class 1956 CIÉ Operational C231 At DCDR.JPG Owned by the Irish Traction Group
Railcar B - 1947 SLNCR Awaiting Overhaul Downpatrick 4.jpg Last passenger-carrying SLNCR vehicle
RB3 - 1981 BR Stopped.

On display in Carriage Gallery

NIR RB3 Ballymena Geograph-2091774.jpg Experimental Railbus - built by BREL/Leyland for use on British Rail, came to NIR 1982
458 450 Class 1985 NIR Mechanically Operational, but not in service Downpatrick 5.jpg 3-Car set. Named Antrim Castle. Undergoing conversion to Buffet/Grotto train.
712 - 1962 CIÉ Awaiting Overhaul Downpatrick 6.jpg ITG-Owned Wickham Railcar
713 - 1962 CIÉ Undergoing Overhaul Downpatrick 7.jpg Wickham Railcar, Nicknamed Rosie
Carriages
Number Type Original Operator Current Status Photo Notes
39 Six-Wheeler BCDR In Carriage Gallery, awaiting overhaul Downpatrick 8.jpg Third Brake - on temporary underframe
72 Bogie BCDR On display in Carriage Gallery Downpatrick 9.jpg Originally railmotor; later converted to autocoach
148 Bogie BCDR On display in Carriage Gallery Downpatrick 10.jpg Includes half of carriage BCDR No. 152
153 Bogie BCDR In Carriage Gallery, Awaiting Overhaul Downpatrick 11.jpg Royal Saloon: carried at least 3 British Monarchs; on temporary underframe
154 Six-Wheeler BCDR In Carriage Gallery, Awaiting Overhaul Downpatrick 8.jpg Second - on temporary underframe
1918 Bogie CIÉ Part of Buffet Set Laminate Coach No. 1918, Downpatrick.jpg Laminate Brake
1944 Bogie CIÉ Undergoing Overhaul Park Royal, Downpatrick.JPG Park Royal
2419 Bogie CIÉ Part of Buffet Set Downpatrick 12.jpg Buffet Carriage
2978 Bogie CIÉ Used as Grotto Carriage at Halloween & Christmas Downpatrick 13.jpg Travelling Post Office
3223 Bogie CIÉ Operational Downpatrick 14.jpg Laminate - Brake Generator Second
6111 Bogie CIÉ Awaiting Overhaul Downpatrick 15.jpg Former AEC railcar 2624, converted to push-pull driving trailer in 1974. Arrived at DCDR 07/02/2015
Unknown Six-Wheeler GNR In Carriage Gallery, Awaiting Overhaul Downpatrick 16.jpg Third - on temporary underframe
33 Unknown Ulster Railway In Carriage Gallery, Awaiting Overhaul Downpatrick 17.jpg Only surviving stock from UR; on temporary underframe. Third oldest carriage in Ireland (built 1862).
25 Six-Wheeler MGWR In Carriage Gallery, Awaiting Overhaul Downpatrick 18.jpg -
53 Six-Wheeler MGWR In Carriage Gallery, Awaiting Overhaul Downpatrick 19.jpg -
69 Six-Wheeler GSWR Undergoing Overhaul Downpatrick 20.jpg Converted from Full Brake to Brake First Saloon; Privately Owned
836 Bogie GSWR Undergoing Overhaul Downpatrick 21.jpg -
1097 Bogie GSWR Stored Downpatrick 22.jpg On loan from RPSI
1287 Bogie GSWR In use as a 'Tarry' (mess van) Downpatrick 23.jpg On loan from RPSI
728 Bogie UTA Operational Downpatrick 24.jpg Ex-MPD driving trailer; later 70 Class Intermediate
8918 Bogie BR Awaiting Minor Maintenance DBSO, Downpatrick.JPG Ex-BR DBSO 9712, later came to NIR but was never used in service.
3189 Bogie BR Part of Buffet Set Downpatrick 25.jpg Ex-BR MK I Brake Third - Converted by CIÉ to Generator Coach
Wagons & Underframes
Number Type Original Operator Current Status Photo Notes
1536 Tanker Private Owner Not In Use Downpatrick 29.jpg -
18885 Goods Van CIÉ Used for storage Downpatrick 30.jpg Contains Generator - known as Roaring Meg
8452 Plough/Brake Van GSWR Used for storage Downpatrick 31.jpg -
8314 Ballast Hopper GSWR Used for Ballast Trains Downpatrick 34.jpg -
8411 Ballast Hopper GSWR Used for Ballast Trains Downpatrick 33.jpg -
C496 Ballast Hopper NIR Used for Ballast Trains Downpatrick 35.jpg -
Unknown Goods Van BCDR Awaiting Overhaul Downpatrick 36.jpg Body Only
Unknown Goods Van GNR Stored Downpatrick 37.jpg Body only; Grounded
C505 Flat NCC In Use Downpatrick 38.jpg -
713 Flat NCC In Use Downpatrick 39.jpg Former 70 Class Driving Trailer; body destroyed in arson
C604 Container Flat NCC In Use Downpatrick 40.jpg Brown Van underframe; Carries BCDR Van
Unknown Bridge Wagon BCDR Awaiting Overhaul Downpatrick 41.jpg 1 of 3 Bridge Wagons
Unknown Bridge Wagon BCDR Awaiting Overhaul Downpatrick 41.jpg 1 of 3 Bridge Wagons
Unknown Bridge Wagon BCDR Awaiting Overhaul Downpatrick 41.jpg 1 of 3 Bridge Wagons
C378 Open Wagon Courtaulds Not In Use Downpatrick 42.jpg -
33 Brake Van NCC Not In Use Downpatrick 43.jpg Used in the lifting of the Portadown - Derry/Londonderry line
935 Underframe WLWR In Use Downpatrick 44.jpg Carries BCDR Royal Saloon No. 153
Unknown Underframe NCC In Use Downpatrick 45.jpg Carries UR No. 33
C??? Container Flat NCC Not In Use Downpatrick 46.jpg Brown Van underframe one of 599-608 series
3084 Steam Crane NCC Not In Use Downpatrick 47.jpg Consists of Crane, Water Wagon & Jib Wagon; built 1931. Originally self-propelled; now the largest in Ireland (capable of lifting 36t).
667 Goods Van NCC Not In Use Downpatrick 48.jpg Brown Van
674 Goods Van NCC Not In Use Downpatrick 49.jpg Brown Van
687 Goods Van NCC Not In Use Downpatrick 50.jpg Brown Van
688 Goods Van NCC Not In Use Downpatrick 51.jpg Brown Van
Unknown Underframe BNM Not In Use Downpatrick 52.jpg 2 Re-gauged 4-W Underframes
C32 Open Wagon UTA Not In Use Downpatrick 53.jpg Pyramid ends
Unknown Underframe GSWR In Use Downpatrick 54.jpg Carries BCDR No. 154
Unknown Underframe GSWR In Use Downpatrick 55.jpg Carries BCDR No. 39
1110 Underframe GSWR In Use Downpatrick 10.jpg Carries BCDR No. 148
13M Underframe MGWR In Use Downpatrick 56.jpg Carries GNR 6w (unknown number)
PW Vehicles
Number Original Operator Current Status Photo Notes
HC1 NIR Not In Use Downpatrick 26.jpg Former Tamper, Converted By NIR Into a Hedgecutter
7 (7007) NIR Operational Downpatrick 27.jpg Type 7 Tamper
315 NIR Operational Downpatrick 28.jpg USP3000C Ballast Regulator

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Cochrane, Gerry (2009). Back in Steam: the Downpatrick and County Down Railway from 1982. Newtownards: Colourpoint. ISBN 978-1-906578-29-9. 
  2. ^ Raising Steam.
  3. ^ "American Baby Boomer adopted by Downpatrick Railway". Latest News. Downpatrick & County Down Railway. 2010-11-29. Retrieved 2012-07-23.