The Webmaster recalls the saying "Today's headlines -
next week's chip wrappers" and believes the original version of this article is an exception.
It first appeared in the Dundee Courier - Supplement - on Saturday 31st January 2015.
It is reproduced here with the kind permission of "The Courier".
Some added text and pictures are shown)
Copies of the original pages appear HERE
in Adobe Reader (PDF) format with a few added photographs..
Dundee to Newtyle Railway-Courier 1.pdf - Dundee to Newtyle Railway-Courier 2.pdf
Dundee to Newtyle Railway-Courier 3.pdf - Dundee to Newtyle Railway-Courier 4.pdf
Grand Plan That Went Off The Rails
A RAILWAY CARRIAGE propelled by a sail hoisted aloft on a pole. To those of us rather more au fait with the high-speed, mega-powered trains of the 21st century, it seems almost unthinkable. Yet in 1831 it was ingenious.
brain behind the sail-driven train was William Whitelaw, the man in
charge of the horse which took up haulage if the wind failed or was in
the wrong direction. He made the sail out of a canvas wagon sheet and
attached it to a stick on top of the carriage to speed things up to
around 20mph and lighten the strain on the horse. However, the
locomotive engine, made two years after the
the introduction of railways in the first half of the 19th century,
small lines had sprung up all over the
was a link between the manufacturing, industrial city of
The line terminated
at Newtyle which, at that time, was little more than a mill and a few
houses, unlike Forfar or larger Strathmore towns.
was built with a 4 feet 6˝ inches gauge, there being no accepted
standard gauge at that time - and this led to problems connecting it
with later lines coming in from
construction of the railway was complicated by the decision to build a
tunnel through Dundee Law, which was finally completed in 1829, allowing
the 11-mile line to open to traffic on
extract from the Dundee Courier at the time stated, "The Railway
betwixt this town and Newtyle has at length been opened. On Friday
last (16th) carriages started for the first time for the conveyance of
goods and passengers. The distance from Newtyle to the temporary place
of starting (it would later move from
"For years, Lochee station would have been a hive of activity as workers from nearby Camperdown Works, owned by the Cox family and for a time the world's largest jute works, employed around 5,000 people at its height in the early 1900s. Its brick chimney, Cox's Stack, at nearly 300ft, can still be seen from the station site.
With the decline of
the jute industry, many of the goods that the railway was carrying
disappeared. Despite this, it managed to survive for more than 130
end of the Second World War signalled the writing on the wall for small
branch lines," Dr. Martin, a lecturer in Life Sciences at
IN SEPTEMBER 1833,
two steam locomotives, the Earl of
Airlie and the Lord Whamcliffe,
replaced the horses and made their first trip on the line. Built in
IN SEPTEMBER 1833, two steam locomotives, the Earl of Airlie and the Lord Whamcliffe, replaced the horses and made their first trip on the line. Built in
1834, a third locomotive was acquired, the Trotter.
Its derailment at Pitpointie on
April 1836, a fourth engine known as John
Bull, from the great locomotive works of Robert Stephenson & Co,
was bought. Three or four passenger trains ran each way daily, according
to season. By 1835 there were reduced fares -`workmen's tickets' - for
transported included cinders, hay, iron, flax, coal, lime, potatoes,
grain, manure, stone and slate, as well as ale, silks and gold plate.
landscape of the country changed in the early 20th century and while
there were fields in Strathmore, there were also bone grinding and
linoleum factories and quarries," says Dr Martin. "Now you'll
see sheep grazing - it's a case of industrial reclamation - things
reverted back to nature."
1846, the railway was saved from bankruptcy by being leased to the
The line was absorbed by the Scottish Central Railway Company in 1863,
which in turn was taken over by the giant Caledonian Railway Company in
line was extended in 1861 from Newtyle to Meigle to join the Scottish
Central Railway running from Perth
through Coupar Angus and Forfar to
the Great Freeze in 1947, a passenger train was snowed-in for over a
week near Auchterhouse. In his book, “The Dundee and Newtyle
Railway”, Niall Ferguson (ISBN-13:
978-0853614760) recalled: "Passengers made their way to the village
where they were put up in various houses including Auchterhouse Smiddy,
where five schoolboys on their way home from Dundee spent the night
before finishing their journey home to Newtyle on foot through the
in 1929, Tayport resident Reg Mulheron has fond memories of a train trip
it thundered past Meigle towards Ardler Junction, where two lines
gradually converged, the crew were unaware that the smaller and slower
As it thundered past Meigle towards Ardler Junction, where two lines gradually converged, the crew were unaware that the smaller and slower
it to have been allowed on to the main line was a catastrophic error. As
the two trains came together, the 321-ton express smashed into the
trundling tank engine. The Swiftsure was spun like a toy and its coaches piled headlong into
fields. The first few carriages, unmanned, were reduced to splintered
wood and twisted steel. The
driver David Nutt had been thrown clear and went searching for his
crew-mate - but fireman James Smith was trapped beneath the tender and
grievously injured. He died in the Dundee Royal Infirmary that night.
Meanwhile, in the cab of the tank engine, fireman Robert Nixon lay
stricken with a smashed leg and driver John Laing had been hurled
against the controls. He, too, died later in the D.R.I., while Nixon
lost his leg.
damage caused by the Second World War, in 1948 the
FOR 30 years, the
tunnel was re-opened by the Scottish Mushroom Company for growing
purposes in 1898, but the company went into liquidation in 1902. Five
years later, botanist Sir Patrick Geddes, a pioneer of the Green
movement and modem town planning, drew up plans for the tunnel as a
fernery, along with elaborate plans for the surrounding area.
from right) are relics of the old railway: the former Newtyle Station;
the “Miley” at
Deirdre Robertson is campaigning to have the Law Tunnel re-opened as a
tourist attraction and local historian Ron Watt's film about the railway
picked up steam after being launched online in November, 2014.
like to see the tunnel re-opened but it could be dangerous," says
Mr. Watt (82). "I played there as a child - we'd climb into the
tunnel, or as far into as we could before we got scared."
Simpson (69) has fond memories of exploring the tunnel in the 1960s.
"The entrance was covered with rubble but over the years, rain had
uncovered the top of the arch," he says. "We could feel a
draught coming through one end and there was a gap large enough to
slither down into it. One of the lads who came in with me had a Tilley
lamp so we could see. It was so exciting."
this adventure, when the northern end of the tunnel was excavated in the
1980s, Elliott took photos of surveying. He put them and other pictures
he'd taken of features along the line online in an attempt to create an
of the line is seeing a new lease of life as walking and cycling routes
-the Newtyle Path Network, Sidlaw Path Network and
the pathways which meander past these fascinating features comes at a
cost. "Paths need to be resurfaced, ditches cleaned and water
courses kept clear," says Newtyle Path Network member (and Courier
columnist) Dudley Treffry. "And linking with other projects around
Strathmore will incur further expenditure.
hoping to raise the line's profile, making the old turntable in Newtyle
into a landscaped feature and providing information boards and
seating." Evidently, much has changed since the line opened almost
two centuries ago, but it hasn't been abandoned to weeds and
dereliction; people really care enough about this part of their heritage
to want it to continue to play a role in their future.
You may also wish to read about the Dundee to Forfar Railway
line on this website.
There is a considerable amount of information that can be found online regarding these historic railways.
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This page was updated - 16 March, 2015