Schull and Skibbereen Railway
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The Schull and Skibbereen Railway (also known as the Schull and Skibbereen Tramway and Light Railway) was a minor narrow gauge railway in County Cork, Ireland. It opened in 1886 and closed in 1947. The track gauge was a 3 ft (914 mm) narrow gauge. The formal name of the company was The West Carberry Tramways and Light Railways Company Ltd.
The S&S's main line was 15 ½ miles long. It was one of several in Ireland built under the terms of the Tramways Act 1883. It largely ran alongside roads, although a large 12-arched masonry viaduct was built over an inlet of Roaringwater Bay.
The line linked the small harbour and village at Schull (in Irish: Scoil Mhuire) with the town of Skibbereen (An Sciobairín). The only sizeable intermediate village was Ballydehob (Béal Átha an dá Chab), although the station was located inconveniently far from the village. The line was single track, with a passing place at Ballydehob station. Other halts were built at Newcourt, Church Cross, Hollyhill, Kilcoe and Woodlands (of which only Hollyhill had a station building).
The station at Skibbereen was built on a cramped site adjacent to that of the Cork, Bandon and South Coast Railway. The S&S trains had to reverse out of the station into a headshunt, before proceeding towards Schull. (A similar reversing operation is still required at Killarney railway station on Iarnród Éireann's line from Mallow to Tralee).
Construction was begun in 1885 and soon proved to be substandard. The Inspector of Railways refused to allow the line to be opened for public service in August 1886. Following some remedial work and a subsequent inspection, the line opened in September with a restricted speed limit of only 15 miles per hour. In October the service had to be suspended for 10 days owing to problems with both the track and the locomotives. Services had to again be suspended in April 1887, with local ratepayers having to subsidise the company. The Inspector of Railways gave a highly critical report of the line's standards of operation.
Following further losses, in 1892 the Grand Jury of County Cork appointed a committee of management to run the line. In 1893 a short extension to Schull Pier was built.
Ownership by the GSR and CIÉ
In 1925 the company was incorporated into the new Great Southern Railways. Owing to a shortage of coal during World War II (known as The Emergency in neutral Ireland), services had to be suspended between April 1944 and December 1945. In 1945 the GSR was incorporated into Córas Iompair Éireann (CIÉ). A further shortage of coal resulted in a renewed suspension of services on 27 January 1947. The line never reopened; CIÉ formally abandoned the railway in September 1952.
The line was operated by steam locomotives throughout its existence:
- SSLR 1 to 3 – Dick, Kerr 0-4-0T tramway locomotives of 1886
- SSLR 4 – Nasmyth, Wilson & Co. 4–4–0T of 1888
- SSLR 1 and 3 – Peckett and Sons 4–4–0T of 1906 and 1914
- GSR 6S – ex CMLR 6
Other narrow gauge railways in Co. Cork