Lochside Station Lochwinnoch

The Village Railway Stations 

by

ADRIAN THARME, August 2018

Lochside Station

This article is adapted from the handout notes I produced in 2016 to accompany  a small 

exhibition in the Community Library of photographs and storyboards outlining the history

 of the two railway stations which served the village from 1840. 

This exhibition was not intended to be a definitive history. Rather it was hoped that the

displays would serve as interesting background for more recent residents and to “jog happy memories” for longer term villagers. For schoolchildren and younger people an aim was to show how different the railway services of the past were from those of today.       

The First Village Rail Service 1840

Phoenix Steam Engine

The Glasgow Paisley Kilmarnock & Ayr Railway Co (GPKA) completed a rail link from Glasgow to Ayr in 1839. The project had taken 6 years and Lochwinnoch Station opened as an intermediate point on the route on 12 August 1840. Within a year a schedule of five trains daily in each direction (except Sun) was being operated. 

The Glasgow terminus for this line was Bridge Street on

the south side of the Clyde. From there the line to Paisley

(renamed Paisley Gilmour Street  in 1883) was shared with

another rail company and included stops at Shields Road

and Moss Road (renamed Cardonald in 1879).

From Paisley to Ayr the track and stations were fully

owned by GPK&A.  The stations on this line were Elderslie,

Johnstone (renamed Johnstone High from 1851 till 1962),

Cochrane Mill (renamed  Milliken Park in 1853) , Howwood 

(closed in 1842 and then reopened in 1876), Lochwinnoch,

Beith North, Kilbirnie  (renamed Glengarnock in1951),

Dalry, Kilwinning, Irvine, Barassie, Troon, Monkton,

Prestwick, and Ayr.. 

The end-to-end journey took two and a half hours. This was

due not only to the lower speed capability of locomotives at

                                             that time but also because the transit time at each stop included the                                                loading and unloading of items being transported in the goods van

                                             which was coupled to the passenger coaches. However, this was less                                                than half the time taken by the Fair Trader Stage Coach which had                                                  provided the only previous transport between Glasgow and the                                                          Ayrshire coast via the Lochwinnoch Roadhead  Inn.

Phoenix

Passenger carriages in the early days on this route were designed to hold 18 in First Class, and 30 in Second Class. Third Class carriages which had NO seats were situated next to the engine, followed by Second Class, then First Class and the Goods Van bringing up the rear. 

The locomotives operating  through Lochwinnoch in these early days were designed and built in Glasgow by GPKA. They were given names such as Eglinton, Phoenix, Prince Albert, and 

Loudon. The engine pulling the first service through Lochwinnochon 12 August 1840 was the “Cutty Sark”.

The arrival of the railway reflected the

growing population of the village, its

continued industrial expansion, and the

increased need for faster and more

reliable transportation for people, mail

and goods to and from Glasgow and

Ayrshire. The impact on the social

development of the village was

significant and progressed Lochwinnoch’s

transformation from being a largely

self-contained and self-sufficient

community.

The next developments 

 

A series of mergers and amalgamations of regional private rail companies resulted in the formation of the Glasgow & South Western Railway in 1850. This company assumed responsibility for the management  of the line from Glasgow to Ayr and in the ensuing years introduced three significant changes affecting Lochwinnoch.

Railway Bridge under construction

The first was in 1876 when G&SWR established it’s Head Office at St Enoch’s Station in Glasgow. This led to the transfer of scheduled services from the old terminus at Bridge Street Station to

St Enoch’s resulting in a new route between the village and the city.

From 1876 trains operated from Lochwinnoch  to Glasgow St Enoch’s Station via Paisley Canal Street, Hawkhead, Crookston, Corkerhill, and Cumberland Street in the Gorbals. This was the route operated for the next 90 years.

The second change was at Lochwinnoch Station where G&SWR built 7 cottages for local

railway workers. Station staff, signalmen, line maintenance workers and their families would

live in this railway hamlet until the cottages were demolished around 1960. Many locals will

recall the names of some of these railway cottage residents : O’Neil, Williamson, Fenion,

Gilmour, Douglas, McKinnon and latterly McGuire, McQuade, and Andrews. Sadly there is no

evidence of the cottages at the station today.

The third and most significant development was the establishment of a new loop line branching from the main Glasgow to Ayr track at Brownhill Junction near Dalry. This “Lochwinnoch Loop“ as it was known ran via Kilbirnie along the north side of the Barr and Castle Semple lochs stopping at the new stations of Lochwinnoch, Kilbarchan, and Johnstone North before rejoining the main line at Elderslie. A proposed station at Castle Semple never came to fruition but the planned site is still evident on the cycle track on the east side of St Bryde’s Bridge.

Glasgow & South Western Railway had bought land along this route over a number of years including the land in the village required for the new station, the railway sidings and coal yard

(Sandpiper Road and Station Rise). G&SWR also bought the Red House in Harvey Terrace as accomodation for the Station Master and Ardmannoch in Harvey Square for a senior manager based in Glasgow.

Hundreds of men were employed in the construction work and the 1901 Census lists the names of many of these workers and the sites of their temporary living quarters near the village.  

The topography of the village was changed considerably by the creation of the embankment along which the track was laid. Where previously there had been an uninterrupted view of the loch, the embankment now obstructed this for much of the village as it was then. 

This major engineering  project was completed in 1904 and the first train service operated on 01 June 1905. As the new station was to be known as Lochwinnoch, the original station was renamed Lochside and this remained  the case until 1985. The new station comprised of a Ticket Office, Lost & Found Office,  Goods Office, two Waiting

Rooms (one of these was Ladies Only), the

Station Master’s Office, Porters Room, and

Ladies & Gents Toilets. The Waiting Rooms

were heated by large open fires – bliss on a

cold winter’s morning! Access to the

platforms was via subway tunnels from

Church Street and Lochlip Road. The latter

entrance is behind the bricked up section

under the bridge.

The number of daily passenger services

through the village station peaked at twelve

in each direction. Additionally there were freight trains bringing coal into the sidings yard or taking the barytes mined at Muirshiel to Glasgow for processing. This rail facility brought new employment opportunities to the village and older residents will recall the family names of some of those employed as station staff, line maintenance men, signalmen, porters etc including Wylie,

Ross, Richardson, Gibb, Price, Eadie, Grant.

Lochwinnoch Railway Station
Old railway ticket for horses

A significant difference between the service provided in those days from that of today was the provision of mail and goods transportation on passenger trains. For the shops and factories this greatly improved access to needed materials and sales items. Heavy luggage and suitcases could be sent in advance, for example, to a family’s holiday destination on a door to door basis. Advance booking was, however, required when domestic pets, horses or livestock were to be transported! For example, an entire Lochwinnoch farm (yes, everything including cattle, sheep, and 

hens, tractors and ploughs, plus all the farmhouse effects were transferred 550 miles on a special train from the village station to Bude in Dorset in 1952. (see footnote 1). In the Library archive there is also a “goods transportation” receipt in the name of Lady Lee-Harvey of Castle Semple House for transporting her horse from Lochwinnoch to Dunbar in 1879 at a cost of £1 and 4 shillings.

In 1921 Parliament passed the Railways Act which re-organised most private railways into four major companies. Both of the stations serving the village at that time came under the auspices of the largest of these, London, Midland & Scottish Railway ( LMS ), which was formed in 1923. No major changes to operations, other than increases to daily services, or changes to station facilities took place in the years running up to the nationalisation of the railways in 1948. The next significant change was the decision in 1955 to close Lochside Station as demand for passenger, freight and mail services continued to focus more at the station in the village.

Lochwinnoch Station

In what was the “hey-day” of rail services in

the village many will recall not only the 

scheduled services operated by steam

locomotives but also the special trains into

and out of the village. The former included

“Sunday School Trip Trains”, primarily but

not exclusively from Glasgow, which brought

hundreds to spend a day in Lochwinnoch

Public Park during the summer months.

The latter were mostly “Jimmy Speirs Specials”

taking village Darby & Joan Club members

(OAP’s) and their families on day outings to

Steam train at Lochwinnoch Station

various places such as Burntisland,

Dunfermline and Leven. The popularity of

these trips left the village a very quiet place

on those days! (see footnote 2)

Another “special“ train was the Saturday

night arrival from St Enoch’s at 6.40pm.

This brought the Final Editions of the

Glasgow Evening Times and Evening Citizen

containing the day’s football scores and

reports to the village. Both paper-shops

closed at lunchtime on Saturdays but

reopened to sell these papers – and there

were always queues!

The Beeching Axe

 

In the early 1960’s the British         Railways Board commissioned a report to review it’s operations. “The Reshaping of British Railways” produced by Dr Richard Beeching was accepted by the Board and in 1963 this was adopted by the Government of the day. The result was the closure of about 1/3rd of the UK rail network including the Lochwinnoch Loop Line. A committee (Lochwinnoch Rail Users) was formed to oppose the proposed closure of the line and the village station and had great help from our then MP, Norman Buchan. It became quickly clear, however, that the closure decision would not be reversed and the Committee re-focussed its efforts on persuading British Railways to reopen Lochside Station which, though closed in 1955, had never been demolished. Negotiations were successful and on 27 June 1966 Lochside reopened using the old ticket office and waiting room.

The previous evening, Saturday 26th June, a much less welcome event had taken place at

Lochwinnoch Station when the last train operated. The train from Glasgow was met by the

Committee and many other villagers who draped black ribbons around the station and the front carriage before presenting the driver with a bottle of whisky which had a specially printed label stating that the driver had operated the last train at Lochwinnoch Station. Just two members of that Committee are around today, Marcus Gatheral and Adrian Tharme.

As part of the deal negotiated with British Railways to reopen Lochside a subsidised bus service was to be operated between the village and the station and scheduled to meet each departure and arrival. A small residual component of this deal remains in place today for some of the evening trains.

 

Another station which closed as a result of Beeching was St Enoch’s in Glasgow. Trains to and from the village transferred to Glasgow Central but still via the Paisley Canal Street route. It was not until the early 1980’s that the Paisley Gilmour Street operation was introduced.

 

Initially Lochside was manned by some of the staff who had previously worked at the station in the village. A few years later, as part of a cost cutting exercise, staff were brought in on a daily basis from Johnstone before, eventually and inevitably, Lochside became an unmanned station. In the early 1980’s electricification work was started on the Glasgow to Ayr line and on completion of the section through Lochside in 1985, the ornate metal footbridge linking the two platforms was taken down, the station buildings were demolished, and the station was renamed Lochwinnoch. The wheel is indeed round!

 

Today, twice hourly trains get you to Glasgow Central in about 30 minutes, usually in comfort and with reasonably good punctuality. It makes it hard to imagine the euphoria in the village when that first train operated on 12 August1840, especially if you had been travelling in 3rd Class with no seats!

Footnote 1. 

The Noah's Ark train from Lochwinnoch

In 1952  Hugh MacLean-Walker, the tenant farmer of East Tandlemuir on the Muirshiel Road, was moving to a new farm at Bude in Dorset. Such was the difference in services offered by British Rail in those days that this could be accomplished by a special charter train. Wagons were parked for two days in the sidings at the village station and every item from the farm was loaded. This included all household effects from the farmhouse, tractors, ploughs, other farm machinery and implements, AND all the livestock ! Cows, sheep,chickens, farm dogs were all brought down to the station close to departure time. The journey of 550 miles was, at the time, a British Railways record for the transportation of a farm.

Donald Maclean-Walker, now 79 (as of 2018) but just 4 when he travelled on the Noah’s Ark train with his parents, visited Lochwinnoch in 2008 and was delighted to see his family’s adventure featured in the library archives.

Footnote 2 

The Jimmy Spiers Specials

Throughout the 1950’s the Darby & Joan Club,

a social club for elderly village residents, went on day outings to various places in Scotland on specially chartered trains. These were organised by the Club President and local district Councillor, Jimmy Speirs. Members and their families would depart on these trains from the village station and en route therewere light refreshments donated by village businesses such as Struthers Lemonade and the bakery shops plus musical entertainment. At the destination people would have free time before meeting at a venue, more often a community or church hall, for a pre-arranged High Tea.These were very special days for the villagers of the 1950’s and all made possible by the service provided by British Railways from our local station AND a real Lochenyochian star, Jimmy Speirs.