Highlands, Scotland

Recommended for closure to passengers— along with the entire line from Dingwall to the Kyle of Localsh — in the March 1963-published report titled The Reshaping of British Railways, Plockton has survived as an operational station in the Scottish Highlands. Although no longer in railway ownership, the splendidly-restored main station building — dating back to the opening of the line — now fulfils the role of self-catered holiday accommodation.

The “Dingwall and Skye Railway” was incorporated by an Act of 5th July 1865 to construct a line from Dingwall to Kyle of Lochalsh, with a pier at the latter. 53-miles of single-track route opened between Dingwall and Strome Ferry on 10th August 1870 and, by an Act of 2nd August 1880, the Dingwall and Skye was amalgamated with the “Highland Railway” (ref: Bradshaw’s Railway Manual, Shareholders’ Guide, and Official Directory for 1893). Initially, the remaining portion between Strome Ferry and Kyle of Lochalsh was not pursued; however, new powers were obtained by Act of 29th June 1893 to build this 10½-mile-long section, complete with pier, with a capital of £200,000 and loans of £66,000, for completion within five years (ref: Bradshaw’s Railway Manual, Shareholders’ Guide, and Official Directory for 1899).

Public traffic commenced between Strome Ferry and Kyle of Lochalsh on 2nd November 1897 (ref: Bradshaw’s Railway Manual, Shareholders’ Guide, and Official Directory for 1899) after heavy civil engineering works. The design of the line's construction was carried out by Mr M. Paterson C. E. the Superintending Engineer to the Highland Railway Company; Mr Newlands was Resident Engineer; Mr John Best of Warriston House, Edinburgh, was the contractor; and Major Sir Francis Marindin of the Board of Trade inspected the line and authorised it to be opened to traffic (ref: The Inverness Courier, 2nd November 1897).

The line between Strome Ferry and Kyle of Lochalsh was single-track throughout, with traffic controlled by electric train tablet apparatus (ref: Cassier’s Magazine: A Monthly Review of the Applied Science of Engineering, May 1908), and intermediate stations were located at Plockton and Duirinish. A private platform was provided between Strome Ferry and Plockton to serve Duncraig Castle, and no intermediate crossing loops were laid (ref: The Railway Magazine, November 1966). All west-bound trains were booked to call at Plockton, where tickets were collected (ref: The Railway Magazine, February 1925).

Mr Peter Fraser was the Station Master at Plockton from the outset, and the stations here and at Duirinish were described at the time as being “substantially built and well equipped”, and that the locals highly praised their smart appearance (ref: The Inverness Courier, 2nd November 1897). Plockton station comprised a single platform, and in the 1st September 1897 edition of The Aberdeen Weekly Journal it was reported that consideration was being given to installing a crossing here at a future point in time. The same publication noted that the main station building provided accommodation for First and Third Class passengers “and all the other conveniences which modern requirements demand”. The station building was an attractive single-storey structure formed of vertical timber planks, complete with a slated pitched roof. Of the latter, this overhung the platform to form a canopy supported by five cast-iron stanchions. In January 1897, the Highland Railway Company had also advertised in local newspapers for contractors to build the following at Plockton: an Agent’s house and a block of three dwellings for Porters and Surfacemen. It was specified that the houses needed to be of stone construction with slated roofs and that the building contract did not include plumbing nor painting (ref: The Ross-shire Journal (Ross and Cromarty, Scotland), 22nd January 1897). The houses were reported as being pushed forward with at speed in the 24th April 1897 edition of The Railway Times.

Goods facilities comprised a trio of sidings on the Kyle of Lochalsh side of the station, which are marked on the accompanying diagram. One of these sidings passed through a goods shed, this of which was an all-timber construction with a pitched roof. As of 1925, under the "London Midland & Scottish Railway", there was one regular freight train per day along the line: the 9:35 AM from Dingwall to Kyle (ref: The Railway Magazine, February 1925).

By 1962, Plockton's timber goods shed had been taken down, but the siding that formerly passed through it was retained. Public goods traffic was withdrawn on and from 7th September 1964 (ref: Clinker’s Register, 1980). In the meantime, the station had been listed for closure, along with the entire line between Dingwall and Kyle of Lochalsh. The route was granted a reprieve from withdrawal of passenger services in April 1965 by the Minister of Transport (ref: The Scotsman, 17th April 1964). However, in November 1970, the British Railways Board was again posting public notices in newspapers, advertising the closure of the line between Dingwall and Kyle of Lochalsh, to be effective from 3rd May 1971 (ref: The Scotsman, 25th November 1970). Closure was deferred until 1st January 1974 (ref: The Railway Magazine, February 1972), but this, too, was never effected.

By summer 1971, the former goods yard site had been redeveloped, a series of semi-detached properties having been built. By 1988, Plockton's surviving main building of 1897 origin was owned by "Skye and Lochalsh District Council", which in that year debated what to do with the structure (ref: Aberdeen Press and Journal, 29th February 1988). On 8th September 1988, the council’s development committee met to consider a series of applications on the building’s future use: that of a railway museum, a restaurant, a craft workshop, a boat chandlery, a bunkhouse, and a house (ref: Aberdeen Press and Journal, 9th September 1988). The former station building was eventually restored and converted into a holiday let.

11th June 1962

A south westward view towards Kyle of Lochalsh reveals that the goods shed had been flattened by this time, a lone wagon being situated upon the siding that once passed through it. The main station building was later sold by British Rail to the local council and became a holiday let. An Austin Mini completes this period scene. © David Glasspool Collection