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TITLE
A Steam Special arriving at Kyle of Lochalsh, 1997
EXTERNAL ID
NRM_NBNW_KL_DS080572
PLACENAME
Kyle of Lochalsh
DISTRICT
South West Ross
OLD COUNTY/PARISH
ROSS: Lochalsh
DATE OF IMAGE
5 October 1997
PERIOD
1990s
CREATOR
Lynn Patrick
SOURCE
National Railway Museum, York
ASSET ID
20057
KEYWORDS
railway
railways
trains
stations
A Steam Special arriving at Kyle of Lochalsh, 1997

Arrival at Kyle of Lochalsh station of the steam special photographed on 5 October 1997. The event formed part of the centenary celebrations of the line's opening.

The 63 miles of railway from Dingwall to the Kyle of Lochalsh was opened on 2 November 1897, although the initial section from Dingwall to Stromeferry opened on 19 August 1870. The impetus for building the extension was to counter the North British Railway's plans to extend the West Highland Railway to the west coast. The final difficult section took so long to get approval to build because the engineers and workers had to construct 29 bridges, cut through 31 sections of solid rock at an average cost of £20,000 per mile. In 1893 the Stromeferry to Kyle project began with the work being carried out by the Highland Railway Company and its contractors. It took over 80 navvies nearly four years to complete, a task initiated over 30 years earlier by the Dingwall & Skye Railway Company. At the time it was the most expensive railway ever built. The site of Kyle of Lochalsh station had to be blasted out of solid rock and was opened, along with the pier, in 1897. A ramp for animals was constructed so the beasts could be herded off the trains and on to waiting boats. From here ferries connected the Isle of Skye with the mainland at Kyle, forming the new terminus of the Dingwall & Skye Railway, for 27 years previously located at Stromeferry where a steamer service operated to the Isle of Skye and Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. The pier at Kyle was relocated as the roll on and roll off style of ferry to Kyleakin was brought into service. With the opening of the Skye Bridge on 16 October 1995 the ferry ceased all together.

Before the coming of the railway there were no more than three houses in Kyle. On the day of the first train, the bay took on the more elaborate name of Kyle of Lochalsh. Kyle was essentially a green field site. A village had to be constructed for the railway staff including a hotel, shops, a library and accommodation.

The station had a turntable and a locomotive shed standing outside the station area. After the shed the track divided into three alongside the signal box. The box itself closed on 3 June 1984. One of these tracks led to the station pier. The station has a broad island platform on a pier with a single storey station building constructed in the West Highland Railway Swiss chalet style. Today, the station building is occupied by both the railway and private enterprise. The Friends of the Kyle line have a shop and an exhibition area in part of the building.

When the motor car became the de facto mode of transport in the UK, the railways suffered, and traffic along the Kyle line fell dramatically to the point where the railway management looked into its viability. Dr Beeching marked the line for closure in 1963 but the line was reprieved. In 1970 the line was again destined to close but again the decision was overturned in 1974. Both the Kyle and Far North lines saw increased rail traffic during the oil boom. Today, they form one of the lifelines to remote communities and are a popular tourist attraction.

Background
Over one hundred years ago, two of the most picturesque railways in the world, the Kyle line and the Far North line, were built. Linking them to the rest of the UK rail network is the Highland main line. From 1997 to 2003 the National Railway Museum photographed these three lines, and from the images three exhibitions were created - 'Connection to the Kyle', 'By Firth and Flow' and 'The Highland Link'. The exhibitions were hosted on the Scottish Archive Network (SCAN) under the digital exhibition 'North by Northwest' which officially launched the National Archive of Scotland site on 5 June 2001 in Inverness. The collaboration with SCAN lasted until 2009 when 'North by Northwest' was transferred to the Am Baile website.

'North by Northwest' documents living history and records a snapshot of time in the lives of the people and the lines during the closing years of the twentieth century and the emergence of the twenty-first century. The exhibitions celebrated the impact of the Highland railways on the people, landscape and economy of the Scottish Highlands.

We acknowledge support from the following sponsors who funded the photographic survey of the Highland main line, the Kyle and the Far North lines by the National Railway Museum photographers between 1997 and 2003:

Railtrack, Railtrack-Scotland, ScotRail, EWS, Porterbrook, First Engineering, The Highland Rail Network Development Partnership, The Highland Council, Ross & Cromarty Enterprise, Caithness & Sutherland Enterprise, Safeways, Friends of the National Railway Museum, Perth & Kinross Council, and the Highland Railway Society.

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High Life Highland is a company limited by guarantee registered in Scotland No. SC407011 and is a registered Scottish charity No. SC042593
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A Steam Special arriving at Kyle of Lochalsh, 1997

ROSS: Lochalsh

1990s

railway; railways; trains; stations

National Railway Museum, York

North by Northwest - The Kyle Line

Arrival at Kyle of Lochalsh station of the steam special photographed on 5 October 1997. The event formed part of the centenary celebrations of the line's opening.<br /> <br /> The 63 miles of railway from Dingwall to the Kyle of Lochalsh was opened on 2 November 1897, although the initial section from Dingwall to Stromeferry opened on 19 August 1870. The impetus for building the extension was to counter the North British Railway's plans to extend the West Highland Railway to the west coast. The final difficult section took so long to get approval to build because the engineers and workers had to construct 29 bridges, cut through 31 sections of solid rock at an average cost of £20,000 per mile. In 1893 the Stromeferry to Kyle project began with the work being carried out by the Highland Railway Company and its contractors. It took over 80 navvies nearly four years to complete, a task initiated over 30 years earlier by the Dingwall & Skye Railway Company. At the time it was the most expensive railway ever built. The site of Kyle of Lochalsh station had to be blasted out of solid rock and was opened, along with the pier, in 1897. A ramp for animals was constructed so the beasts could be herded off the trains and on to waiting boats. From here ferries connected the Isle of Skye with the mainland at Kyle, forming the new terminus of the Dingwall & Skye Railway, for 27 years previously located at Stromeferry where a steamer service operated to the Isle of Skye and Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. The pier at Kyle was relocated as the roll on and roll off style of ferry to Kyleakin was brought into service. With the opening of the Skye Bridge on 16 October 1995 the ferry ceased all together.<br /> <br /> Before the coming of the railway there were no more than three houses in Kyle. On the day of the first train, the bay took on the more elaborate name of Kyle of Lochalsh. Kyle was essentially a green field site. A village had to be constructed for the railway staff including a hotel, shops, a library and accommodation. <br /> <br /> The station had a turntable and a locomotive shed standing outside the station area. After the shed the track divided into three alongside the signal box. The box itself closed on 3 June 1984. One of these tracks led to the station pier. The station has a broad island platform on a pier with a single storey station building constructed in the West Highland Railway Swiss chalet style. Today, the station building is occupied by both the railway and private enterprise. The Friends of the Kyle line have a shop and an exhibition area in part of the building.<br /> <br /> When the motor car became the de facto mode of transport in the UK, the railways suffered, and traffic along the Kyle line fell dramatically to the point where the railway management looked into its viability. Dr Beeching marked the line for closure in 1963 but the line was reprieved. In 1970 the line was again destined to close but again the decision was overturned in 1974. Both the Kyle and Far North lines saw increased rail traffic during the oil boom. Today, they form one of the lifelines to remote communities and are a popular tourist attraction.<br /> <br /> Background<br /> Over one hundred years ago, two of the most picturesque railways in the world, the Kyle line and the Far North line, were built. Linking them to the rest of the UK rail network is the Highland main line. From 1997 to 2003 the National Railway Museum photographed these three lines, and from the images three exhibitions were created - 'Connection to the Kyle', 'By Firth and Flow' and 'The Highland Link'. The exhibitions were hosted on the Scottish Archive Network (SCAN) under the digital exhibition 'North by Northwest' which officially launched the National Archive of Scotland site on 5 June 2001 in Inverness. The collaboration with SCAN lasted until 2009 when 'North by Northwest' was transferred to the Am Baile website.<br /> <br /> 'North by Northwest' documents living history and records a snapshot of time in the lives of the people and the lines during the closing years of the twentieth century and the emergence of the twenty-first century. The exhibitions celebrated the impact of the Highland railways on the people, landscape and economy of the Scottish Highlands.<br /> <br /> We acknowledge support from the following sponsors who funded the photographic survey of the Highland main line, the Kyle and the Far North lines by the National Railway Museum photographers between 1997 and 2003:<br /> <br /> Railtrack, Railtrack-Scotland, ScotRail, EWS, Porterbrook, First Engineering, The Highland Rail Network Development Partnership, The Highland Council, Ross & Cromarty Enterprise, Caithness & Sutherland Enterprise, Safeways, Friends of the National Railway Museum, Perth & Kinross Council, and the Highland Railway Society.