BRIEF HISTORY OF THE
(This article by J.G. first appeared in "Monifieth Matters")
this railway was constructed there were two rail routes to travel from
committee set up by The Dundee and Arbroath Railway in 1845 made the
decision to make a start. Was the cost of £150,000 too much of a
gamble? Dock Street Station was opened in 1857 and a year later was
renamed Dundee East Station. This was to be the starting point for the
direct line to Forfar when it was eventually built. During the next few
years from 1856 onwards a number of the various small companies
amalgamated to form slightly larger ones but were still very local in
make up. The building of the direct line was still very much in the
minds of the SNER (Scottish North Eastern Railway) which was the name
given to a newly amalgamated group of companies.
surveys were carried out but no concrete decisions were made on which
route the new line should take. Suggestions were made as to where the
line would leave the main track of the
was the next place for a new station to be built with the new building
inspected and approved in October 1874. Commuters to
A siding area was constructed mainly to "park rolling stock"
to supply carriages for the busy commuter trains. In 1891 the residents
of Gagie and Wellbank petitioned the railway company to have a station
built but were turned down. The reason given was that £2,000 for a
station at Gagie and £600 for one at Wellbank would be too expensive!
Gagie did get one about 40 years later. Apart from the main stations
there were also what was described as private sidings - some at quarries
and one at a seed crushing plant at Monikie. As Barnhill became a busy
commuter station it was necessary for a water tank to be erected to
supply water for engine boilers and this was carried out for the
princely sum of £35.
the 1914-1918 War, troop trains were often seen moving regiments and
equipment around the countryside, and commuter services brought workers
to the commerce and industry of
During the late 1880's and 90's there were two derailments - both incidents involving the same locomotive, a 2-4-0 No. 49, at Kingennie and Kirkbuddo, both being caused by points malfunctions. Fortunately there were no injuries to passengers on both occasions due to the slow speeds that the derailments happened. Two recorded incidents at the peaceful Kingsmuir station were, (1) in 1888 when the Station Master was charged with embezzlement and was committed to prison by the Sheriff at Forfar and, (2) in 1914 when the east gable of the Station Master's house collapsed. The building was described as "very old and past repair". The Railway Company built a completely new one for £355 which included in the price, was improved toilet facilities for the station staff.
October 1952 there was, what was called, a minor incident at Barnhill
station when a trainload of sugar beet that was destined for the factory
at Cupar in Fife which had a brake failure while approaching the
station. It derailed just south of the platform, spilling several tons
of sugar beet over the embankment.
weather in the winter could affect the line and there are old
photographs showing trains stuck in, and negotiating deep snow and ice.
The winter of 1947 was particularly difficult. Statistically the total
length of the line was 17¼ miles, almost all-single line apart from
passing places or loops at the stations. The line was designed to reduce
the gradients, making it easier for the early engine technology. It
looped around the countryside to the centres of population and is thus,
longer than a direct straight line on the map. The track bed was
double-headed rail in 24ft lengths. There were 19 over-bridges, 26
under-bridges and perhaps the most famous landmark on the line is the
viaduct known locally the "Seven Arches". It was 150 yards in
length with seven spans 50ft high, reaching to a total height of 85ft.
The engineers John Willet and George Mackay designed it. Contractor
William Leslie undertook construction. The Seven Arches is now
designated listed building which is a favourite route for cyclists and
haunt for dog-walkers, ramblers and walkers between schools and new
housing. Pausing to look gives one a sense of the quality of Victorian
engineering and construction.
the 1850’s a driver’s wage was £64 per annum and a fireman would
receive £55. In 1900, at the turn of the century, the driver’s wage
had gone up to £100 per annum.
the other end of the pay scale booking clerks and gangers would earn
approximately £2.10.shillings a fortnight.
its heydays the station at Monikie was the stop off point for
"picnic specials". These were trains that were used by
organisations such as Church groups for Sunday school outings to what is
During the First World War the railways were under
state control although not nationalised. This remained the situation
until the government of the day passed the 1921 Railways Act known as
the Groupings Act and after much discussion and debate, the "Big
Four " was established. The Forfar line was then run by the LMS
(London Midland and Scottish) from 1923. The 1939-1945 war placed many
demands on the line and rolling stock. Some research suggests that
armoured trains mounted with heavy guns, as defence against invasion or
parachute attack would have patrolled the line. The railways were
nationalised by the government from
However, the rail network was losing money on
local branch lines against competition from buses, cars and lorries and
needed new investment in rolling stock etc. Dr. Beeching was
commissioned by the government to look into the system and his proposals
resulted in the closure of a great many lines, including the
Forfar Station was gradually run down, being used
occasionally for Rail Historical Specials until 1981. Today, driving or
cycling along the route, one can see former bridges, track beds and old
platforms. Tracks were removed and over bridges were taken down but a
number of under bridges remain with roads above the bridges. Modern
housing has been built on station lands and in Forfar old sheds are now
in industrial use. Farmland has consumed some of the track but in many
places the track bed is still clearly seen and can be walked along.
seeking further information will enjoy reading "Arbroath and Forfar
Railway the Dundee Direct Line and the Kirriemuir Branch" by Niall
Ferguson, a local railway historian.
Model Group is completing a large model of the route, which is to be
The Webmaster invites any relevant photos which can be used (copyright free) on this page.
You may wish to read on this website about the Dundee to Newtyle historic railway.
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This page was updated - 08 February, 2015