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Leadhills and Wanlockhead Branch

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Introduction
Local area
Chronology

Locations
Elvanfoot
Leadhills
Wanlockhead

This site
Caledonian Railway
Glasgow, Dumfries and Carlisle Railway

Other sites
Lead and Labour; The story of the miners of Leadhills and Wanlockhead

ScotRail

The Leadhills and Wanlockhead Railway

The Museum of Leadmining, Wanlockhead


Leadhills and Wanlockhead Branch
(Caledonian Railway)
 

A portion of this closed standard gauge railway has been reopened as a narrow gauge tourist line. The line reached the highest point of any standard gauge railway in Britain and was built as a light railway. Construction involved use of mass concrete in viaducts.

Survey To be entered
Engineers To be entered
Act 1897
Contractors To be entered
Opened 5 October 1901
Closed 1938
Clickable map of the Leadhills and Wanlockhead Branch.

Local area 

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This line was built from Elvanfoot into the Lowther hills to two small mining settlements. The area was known for its lead mines, but silver and gold were also extracted here. Mining in the district long pre-dates railways. Traditionally lead went overland to the port at Leith, however the arrival of the railways in the area reduced this flow.

By Leadhills there were to the south the Wilson and Glengonnar pits, to the east an area where gold had been found, to the north the Wembley pit and the Susannah and Humby veins, and slightly further north smelters at Waterhead where the adits which drained the mining emptied into the Glengonnar Water. Tramways were used in the Leadhills mines.

To the west of Wanlockhead were the Bay mine (named for the Botany Bay colony) and Glencrieff mine. An surface tramway ran from Meadowfoot to Wanlockhead which pre-dated the railway. Originally it only ran as far as the town, but later it may have been modified to run to near the station.

William Symington grew up in Wanlockhead and two of his engines were used; one at Bay and one at Humby.

Chronology

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Description of route

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From Elvanfoot to Wanlockhead.

Elvanfoot

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This station is now closed, however the main line of the Caledonian Railway remains open between Glasgow and Carlisle. The junction between the Wanlockhead line and the main line faced south. Nearby a concrete viaduct still stands - this viaduct is due for demolition (some time after Dec 2005) so if you haven't seen it go and see it!

Elvan Water Viaduct

By Toddle Moss a two arch viaduct crossed the Elvan Water. This was demolished in 2006.

Rispin Cleugh Viaduct

This high viaduct was demolished in the 1980s.

Leadhills Shed

This shed was about a third of a mile north of Leadhills.

Leadhills

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This station was closed with the rest of the line in 1938. A narrow-guage railway (2 foot) now runs from Leadhills to short of Wanlockhead by the former Glengonnar mine. The photograph on the left shows the replacement station (on the same site as the original) and looks towards Elvanfoot. The photograph on the right shows the view towards Wanlockhead. Signalling has been installed at the station since the photographs were taken.

Glengonnar

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This station is the southern terminus of the narrow gauge line and was not a station on the original line, although a mine of the same name existed nearby.

Wanlockhead

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The original railway was closed in 1938 and the station site is now bare except for the remains of a colliery winding house. The new line has not yet reached here from Leadhills. The photograph shows the view looking towards Leadhills from the station site. A Tramway ran west from here in connection with the railway.


Page created on 11/03/1997
Page last edited on: 17/03/2012
Contact: Ewan Crawford