1 EAGLETON NOTES: One For Mark: Garve Station

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Sunday, 5 July 2015

One For Mark: Garve Station

For many years I have been meaning to photograph this station with its extra wide gap between the two railway lines. I had been told nearly 40 years ago when passing with a colleague who was a train enthusiast that the gap was to enable fishing boats carried on goods trains to pass. Having plenty of time when going for the ferry on Monday last with CJ I stopped and took some photos.

The following is an extract from the Highland Regional Council's website entitled Am Baile:

Garve is one of the stops on the Skye Railway which opened in 1870. The station was designed by Murdoch Paterson and has a fine lattice-sided foot bridge across the line. 
A feature of the station is that there is a particularly wide gap between the up and down lines. The original plan for the Skye Railway was not just to carry passengers, goods and fish between east and west but to transport fishing boats as well. This was to avoid the dangers of the journey round the north of Scotland. There was the safer alternative of the route through the Caledonian Canal but this was expensive. The idea was that vessels would be craned out of the water at the Dingwall Canal on to special wagons and transported across the country to be lowered in to the sea at Strome Ferry. The extra wide gap at Garve was to allow the boat trains to pass other passenger and goods trains safely. The cranes were ordered and it was hoped that the railway would be ready for the early summer when the fishing fleet needed to be moved. However when it became clear that the railway would not open until July the cranes were postponed until the following year. That was the last that was heard of the "Fishers' Boats" scheme, the only legacy the gap at Garve Station. 
Garve had the possibility of becoming a major junction. Twice in the late nineteenth century plans were proposed to build a railway line from Garve to Ullapool. In 1890 the route was given Royal Assent but disagreements between the rival railway companies meant that it never came to fruition.
Looking East to Inverness
Looking west to Kyle of Lochalsh and Skye 

29 comments:

  1. I always thought this line was single track but of course they had to have passing loops. It looks grand here basking in the sunshine.

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    1. Given the number of trains per day, I'm not sure how much use the passing loops actually get these days.

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    2. Interestingly I was at a wedding in Strathcarron last year and the station was well-used. It's on the same line.

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  2. Quirky and fascinating information. The yellow wall paint of the station house is bright and cheerful. I think we might paint our house that colour and rename it "The Buttery".

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    1. Not sure I fancy butter quite that bright YP. More like "The Daffodilly".

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  3. Quirky and fascinating information. The yellow wall paint of the station house is bright and cheerful. I think we might paint our house that colour and rename it "The Buttery".

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    1. A distinct case of déjà vu here YP.

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  4. Interesting, that's definitely a new one for me. I'm trying to envisage how they would have positioned the boats on a wagon though. If they needed to position the tracks further apart to allow two trains to pass then this would suggest that the width of the wagons (or their loads) was wider than normal but you would assume this would mean they would need a wider loading gauge throughout the entire line so the boats didn't hit bridges or signals etc. Also usually the loading gauge is such that things don't overhang platforms (so people don't get knocked over), but the tracks are in the normal place, otherwise you'd need a ramp/bridge to board the train! Of course given it was never actually tried I can't find any information on how they were going to actually do it.

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    1. Mark I'd never given any thought to those points (because I'd never had to) but as I only discovered when I read the article that the line had never carried boats it may well be that they were never addressed properly. On the other hand as it would be unlikely back in the 1870s that the trains would roar through stations with a boat on perhaps they would just have gone through slowly making sure there was no one in the way. We may never know.

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  5. My Dad was a railwayman and we would walk the tracks as kids shovelling cow dung that would fall from the trains and use it to fertilise the garden. Don't know where that memory came from?Nothing to do with fishing boats that's for sure.

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    1. Carol we used to collect the dung from the horse drawn delivery wagons to fertilise our garden. It was always a question of who got to it first. Mrs Murphy our neighbour next door but one usually won!

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  6. This reminds me of my dad - because anything to do with old railways does. We visited lots of railway-related places in Britain too back on our travels in the 1970s. But I think Inverness was as far north as those travels took us. What is that thing parked outside the station house? It looks like a very small train to me but it would not fit on those tracks! :)

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    1. Monica it's a little train made from barrels or the like for children to sit in and play whilst waiting for the train.

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  7. It's interesting that the railway has stayed the same and not been replaced by rebuilding of some sort.

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    1. Yes Red. It's one of the ones that has escaped the cuts.

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  8. The following is a comment by Fred Silver made on Facebook which I think merits copying here too. As I understand it, the Ullapool to Garve railway is unique. No other railway in the UK got as far as getting Royal Assent, i.e. full Parliamentary approval - and then remained unbuilt. A new Act had to be passed two years later to allow them to not build it. The project was opposed by Stornoway's business community who feared trade would be overly attracted to Ullapool if the railway was built. The railway link was strongly supported by the Mathesons but by then, their immense fortunes had largely been dissipated by spending or lost in economic downturns.

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  9. Some interesting bit of history there, thank you!

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    1. It's a pleasure Meike. I doubt it will be much use in a pub quiz though.

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  10. Very interesting...my curiosity has got the better of me and I am wondering how wide the span is between the two tracks, it must be quite a small boat that would have been transported.
    "Royal Assent" now there's a term I had never heard before and I like it.

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    1. Usually the gab between two lines is referred to as "the six foot" and is you'll guess it is usually about 6 foot -- it varies on curves to deal with bogie stock overhanging the line more. Having done a bit of rather unscientific measuring from the photo I reckon the gap at Garve is about 9 foot 4 inches, so a good extra 3 feet. Mind you three feet doesn't seem like a lot of extra space to fit a boat!

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    2. Virginia 'Royal Assent' is the constitutional action by which an Act of Parliament becomes law.

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    3. Thanks Mark, the gap in the photo looked small to me but with your trained eye and explanation I totally get it now.
      GB even though we were under British rule before we became independent, I had never heard the term before, but now I have, and I really like it, thanks.
      My friends call me The Virginous One, so from now on I will be incorporating "Royal Assent" into my vocab when my subjects want something from me.
      You know like "Oh Virginous One can I borrow your dvd?" To which I may reply "You have my royal assent!"
      Love it.

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    4. Oh Yes, Virginia, you must definitely add "You have my royal assent!" It sounds great.

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  11. It never occurred to me that there would be trains on the islands. My lack of imagination I guess. I see there is a window open upstairs in the station building, which adds to the used and friendly look.

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    1. Pauline your feelings were correct: there are no trains on the Island. This line is on the mainland between Inverness and Kyle of Lochalsh. You will see it next month.

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  12. How to make the most boring topic on earth of interest - you have a certain knack, GB.

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    1. Hmmm CJ. I'll take that as a compliment (given that you thought my choice of topic was so boring!).

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