Please Sign In | Register
Google pluspinterestShare on Stumble UponShare on RedditFacebookShare on Tumblr
TITLE
The Formation of the Dingwall & Skye Railway
EXTERNAL ID
GB1796_SINCLAIR_JOHNTHOMAS_01
OLD COUNTY/PARISH
ROSS
PERIOD
1980s; 1990s
CREATOR
John Thomas
SOURCE
Inverness Museum and Art Gallery
ASSET ID
2061
KEYWORDS
Highland Railway
railways
transport
audio

Get Adobe Flash player

The Dingwall and Skye Railway was opened in 1870 but only went as far as Strome Ferry on Loch Carron. It would be another twenty-seven years before the railway reached the terminus at Kyle of Lochalsh. In this audio extract, John Thomas (1914-1982), one of Britain's leading railway historians, talks about the formation of the Dingwall and Skye Railway. The recording was made on board a special excursion train to Kyle of Lochalsh in 1973.

The idea of a railway line crossing Ross-shire from east to west was first mooted in an informal meeting held in the Caledonian Hotel, Inverness, during the wool sales week in July, 1864. In the previous year, the direct line from the south, via Perth and Aviemore, had reached Inverness, and the line to the north had got as far as Meikle Ferry. So far, there had been no talk of a railway from Inverness to the west coast. One of the gentlemen at the Inverness meeting was MacLeod of MacLeod, and as a resident of Skye, he had this to say, 'This town, Inverness, is undoubtedly the county town, but at present I call Glasgow my county town, for I go there for everything I want by means of the steamers'. MacLeod wanted a railway that would get him quickly from Skye to Inverness and the meeting resolved that steps should be taken to promote such a railway.

The first official meeting of the promoters took place in an office in Westminster a few weeks later. Westminster, because many of the promoters were members of the House of Lords and were more often in London, than in the Highlands. The new railway was named 'The Skye Railway'. That was its official name, 'The Skye Railway', but at the second meeting, the title was changed to 'The Dingwall and Skye Railway'. An Act was obtained on 5th July, 1865 and the company set about creating the railway it had dreamed of. It was no easy task; not everyone wanted the railway. Hostile landowners rushed to Parliament with objections when the railway threatened to invade or even to come near their properties. Others demanded impossible sums of money in cash to permit the line to cross their land.

Nearly three years passed without a spade being turned while the promoters fought objection after objection. At one of many frustrating meetings of the board, the chairman announced, 'In consequence of unforeseen difficulties which have arisen in arranging with certain landowners on the line, no progress has been made with the works, and the directors think it right to state at once to the shareholders that no steps will be taken until these difficulties are removed'. Using perseverance and guile, the directors took their line across country to deep water at Strome Ferry on Lochcarron, fifty-three miles from Dingwall, by 19th August, 1870. At that point, ten and a half miles short of the planned terminus, the money ran out. Another twenty-seven years were to pass before the railway reached Kyle of Lochalsh

For guidance on the use of images and other content, please see the Terms and Conditions page.
High Life Highland is a company limited by guarantee registered in Scotland No. SC407011 and is a registered Scottish charity No. SC042593
Powered by Capture

The Formation of the Dingwall & Skye Railway

ROSS

1980s; 1990s

Highland Railway; railways; transport; audio

Inverness Museum and Art Gallery

Bill Sinclair Audio: Dingwall & Skye Railway

The Dingwall and Skye Railway was opened in 1870 but only went as far as Strome Ferry on Loch Carron. It would be another twenty-seven years before the railway reached the terminus at Kyle of Lochalsh. In this audio extract, John Thomas (1914-1982), one of Britain's leading railway historians, talks about the formation of the Dingwall and Skye Railway. The recording was made on board a special excursion train to Kyle of Lochalsh in 1973.<br /> <br /> The idea of a railway line crossing Ross-shire from east to west was first mooted in an informal meeting held in the Caledonian Hotel, Inverness, during the wool sales week in July, 1864. In the previous year, the direct line from the south, via Perth and Aviemore, had reached Inverness, and the line to the north had got as far as Meikle Ferry. So far, there had been no talk of a railway from Inverness to the west coast. One of the gentlemen at the Inverness meeting was MacLeod of MacLeod, and as a resident of Skye, he had this to say, 'This town, Inverness, is undoubtedly the county town, but at present I call Glasgow my county town, for I go there for everything I want by means of the steamers'. MacLeod wanted a railway that would get him quickly from Skye to Inverness and the meeting resolved that steps should be taken to promote such a railway. <br /> <br /> The first official meeting of the promoters took place in an office in Westminster a few weeks later. Westminster, because many of the promoters were members of the House of Lords and were more often in London, than in the Highlands. The new railway was named 'The Skye Railway'. That was its official name, 'The Skye Railway', but at the second meeting, the title was changed to 'The Dingwall and Skye Railway'. An Act was obtained on 5th July, 1865 and the company set about creating the railway it had dreamed of. It was no easy task; not everyone wanted the railway. Hostile landowners rushed to Parliament with objections when the railway threatened to invade or even to come near their properties. Others demanded impossible sums of money in cash to permit the line to cross their land. <br /> <br /> Nearly three years passed without a spade being turned while the promoters fought objection after objection. At one of many frustrating meetings of the board, the chairman announced, 'In consequence of unforeseen difficulties which have arisen in arranging with certain landowners on the line, no progress has been made with the works, and the directors think it right to state at once to the shareholders that no steps will be taken until these difficulties are removed'. Using perseverance and guile, the directors took their line across country to deep water at Strome Ferry on Lochcarron, fifty-three miles from Dingwall, by 19th August, 1870. At that point, ten and a half miles short of the planned terminus, the money ran out. Another twenty-seven years were to pass before the railway reached Kyle of Lochalsh