Recently I’ve been working on some new items of stock for Isle Ornsay (story for another blog post) as well as taking a little time to digitise the route of Railways 1 and 2 from the proposal to help visualise the line more effectively. There is too much detail to cover in one post so I’ll go over it in stages, the first of which will cover the southern end of the railways on the Isle of Skye from Isle Ornsay to Broadford.
Here is the overview map of the line. The documents located within the National Archives give no clues as to where the stations could have been, so the ones annotated on the map are assumptions that I’ve made based on location of current settlements or ferry routes. There is potential that there could have been a few halts located elsewhere at smaller settlements or for access to certain local interest features.
Producing the map using Google Maps enables me to make use of StreetView to see what the areas look like where the proposed line comes close to the present day road network on Skye. All images from StreetView are useable on this blog, so you can pan around them and see what the views from an HLR train could have been like.
This is a shot located parallel with the station at Isle Ornsay looking roughly North. The station is well below the road level, almost at sea level, off to the right in the break between the fir trees where more of the sea is visible.
Once the line had left Isle Ornsay station it passed through two tunnels (marked red on the map), then turned along the edge of Loch na Dal running either on the level or up a gradient of 1:50. The StreetView image below shows the terrain of this stretch, here the line would have been located roughly halfway between the road and the coastline.
From here the line roughly follows the route of the A851 along the valley of the Abhainn Ceann-Locha which eventually runs into Loch na Dal. Further up the valley it crosses the Lon Creadha on a small single span bridge. As Sir Douglas Fox, chief engineer responsible for the plans of the HLR proposal, was renowned for his metal framed structures it is possible that the bridges of the line could have resembled something like the Banwy Bridge on the Welshpool & Llanfair Railway in Wales.
The line would have run from right to left across the image below. To the left of the A851 can be seen the original road, when the line had crossed the bridge it would have passed over this on a level crossing heading off into the moorland to the left of the image and passing to the right of the hills visible on the horizon.
Further along the line we pass beneath the slopes of Glac an Skulamus whilst passing behind the waterbody, Lochain Dubha. In the image below the line is located just on the far shore of the lochan.
From this point the line then begins to descend at 1:50 towards the hamlets on the outskirts on the eastern flanks of Broadford. By this point we’ve travelled approximately 6 miles and have not yet approached a station, or indeed anything resembling a settlement. However, just a little further on we come to an ideal site for the lines’ works to have been located, the hamlets of Harrapool and Waterloo. There’s potential that the sheds for the line could have been shared between here and Portree, but due to the availability of flat spaces in this are I felt this a more viable option. There would still have been some form of stabling sheds at Portree to accommodate the stock for the northern end of the line and the Dunvegan branch, but perhaps not the workshop facilities etc. which could have emerged at Waterloo.
The above image from StreetView shows a view through the site of the works looking towards Broadford. At Waterloo there would have been loco stabling facilities (sheds, coal, water), a workshops to carry out repairs to the various items of rolling stock, carriage sheds and a wagon works. There’s potential that a small halt may have been located here to capture traffic from the hamlets around the outskirts of Broadford, not to mention transporting workers to, and indeed from, the works.
A further 1.5 miles along the line we come to the site that I assume Broadford station would have occupied. This is located inland from the present location of the BP garage and Co-Operative Supermarket for those of you who know the area. This site is relatively flat and is located near to the old steamer pier which would have provided a connection to, Kyleakin, Kyle of Lochalsh and then the Highland Railway line to Inverness.
It is also near this site that the Skye Marble company railway approached from the south, turned north west to cross the Broadford River and headed off to the pier to the north of the town. The line owned by the marble company was originally built to 3′ gauge, 6″ wider than that which I’ve assumed that the HLR would have been built to. If the HLR had been built I’m assuming that the marble company would have regauged it’s line to enable it to make use of a much more extensive network of rail, and therefore ports to ship it’s produce from. Their existing loco ‘Skylark’ would have been totally inadequate for the trip to Isle Ornsay to discharge minerals at the quay. It’s likely that a small exchange yard would have been needed to allow the marble company locos to swap over for something with a little more oomph to cope with longer trains being hauled up reasonably steep grades.
The image below looks north west across Broadford and shows the point where the marble company line would have crossed the A87 and then the Broadford River. On the far bank of the river the remnants of the abutment of the bridge used by the line can still be made out.
The next post in this series of journeys along the line will cover Broadford to Sligachan, easily the most scenically splendid stretch of the entire line.
7.5 miles down, 66.5 to go!