Station Name: CRUMLIN

[Source: Les Fifoot & Paul Wright]

Date opened: 13.11.1871
Location: North side of Main Street
Company on opening: Dublin & Antrim Junction Railway
Date closed to passengers: 29.6.2003
Date closed completely: 29.6.2003
Company on closing: Northern Ireland Railways
Present state: Extant
County: Antrim
OS Grid Ref: J155761
Date of visit: 6.6.2017

Notes: Crumlin station was situated on the 20 mile Lisburn – Antrim branch which was opened by the Dublin & Antrim Junction Railway (DAJR) on 13 November 1871.It connected the Belfast – Portadown line of the Ulster Railway (UR) at Knockmore Junction (Lisburn) to the Belfast – Coleraine line of the Belfast & Northern Counties Railway (B&NCR) at Antrim. At the time of opening there were 5 stations on the line including Crumlin.

The station at Crumlin was opened with the line on 13 November 1871. It was located on the eastern edge of its namesake 11 miles to the north of Knockmore Junction. The station was to the north of Main Street which passed over the line on a bridge.

The line was a single track railway built to the Irish standard gauge (5ft 3inch). A passing loop was provided at Crumlin so the station had two platforms. The platforms were linked by barrow crossings at each end of the station.

The main facilities were located on the northbound (Antrim direction) platform. At the time of opening this was designated as the down line platform.

Goods facilities were located on the west side of the line. They included two sidings, a goods shed, a lifting crane and a weighing machine. On the south side of the Main Street bridge, on the west side of the line, there was a siding that served a cattle dock.

To the north of the station was the largest engineering feature of the line, the Crumlin Viaduct, an iron structure that spanned the River Oaks.

Passenger services were operated by the UR mostly running between Belfast Great Victoria Street and Antrim. From the start Crumlin was the busiest station on the line and it remained so.

On 1 April 1876 the UR was absorbed into the Great Northern Railway Ireland (GNRI) and from that date they operated the train services. In 1879 the DAJR was taken over by the GNRI.

In 1882 the GNRI improved the facilities at Crumlin. A single storey brick built building was provided on the Antrim direction platform. It was built to a design that had been developed for the GNRI by architect William H Mills. A timber waiting shelter with a glass front was provided on southbound platform (Knockmore direction).

A signal box controlled the main line and the connection to the goods yard. It had a brick base with timber upper cabin and it was located on the east side of the line just to the north of the platform.

The December 1896 timetable showed 4 trains in each direction Monday to Saturday and a train each way on Sundays. At this time the up direction was still considered to be to Knockmore Junction and the down to Antrim.

The 1904 Railway Clearing House Handbook of Stations listed Crumlin as being able to handle passengers, parcels, general goods and livestock. The yard crane was capable of lifting 2-tons.

The July 1922 timetable showed the same level of service as there had been in 1895 as seen in the table below. By this time the GNRI had reversed the direction protocol for the line. Up was to Antrim and down to Knockmore Junction.

Up Trains - July 1922 Destination Down Trains - July 1922 Destination
9.00am Antrim 8.01am Belfast Great Victoria Street
12.15pm Antrim 10.36am (Mondays and Tuesdays Only ) Belfast Great Victoria Street
2.58pm (Saturdays Only) Antrim 10.50am (Mondays and Tuesdays Excepted) Belfast Great Victoria Street
4.07pm (Saturdays Excepted) Antrim 1.56pm Belfast Great Victoria Street
7.11pm Antrim 6.00pm Belfast Great Victoria Street
Sundays   Sundays  
10.28pm Antrim 7.54pm Belfast Great Victoria Street

In 1922 following the Irish War of Independence (1919 – 1922) 1922 the island of Ireland was divided into two separate states, The Irish Free State (after 1948 Republic of Ireland) and Northern Ireland. The GNRI network was located in both countries which caused it some difficulties. The Antrim branch was entirely within Northern Ireland so little changed with regards to its train services.

During the 1920s and 1930s the GNRI suffered competition from road transport. Local bus services hit passenger receipts and private hauliers using lorries had an impact on freight.

The Second World War (1939 – 1945) was a busy period for the GNRI and traffic levels increased significantly. In 1942 a branch line was opened from what became Siding Junction (½ mile to the north of Crumlin station) to Gortnagallon where the United States Army Air Force (USAAF) opened an air base which was known as Langford Lodge Base Air Depot Number 3. From May 1942 passenger services were operated to and from Gortnagallon for workers and military personnel. Crumlin station became an important transfer point for traffic going onto and coming off the branch. Military personnel were posted at the station to guard it. The passenger services to Gortnagallon had ended by October 1945 and the branch was lifted by 11 April 1948 (when the Siding Junction was removed).

After the war there was a resurgence in the competition from road transport and that put the GNRI in a difficult financial situation. At first it was aided by both governments but that was set to change with the creation of the Ulster Transport Authority (UTA).

The UTA was created by the Northern Ireland government in 1948 to run nationalised transport undertakings. All of the railways in Northern Ireland, with the exception of the GNRI, came under its jurisdiction in 1949. The UTA, along with the Northern Ireland Government, was notoriously anti-rail (in 1950 it closed the entire Belfast & County Down Railway system except for the Belfast – Bangor line). In 1953 the GNRI was jointly nationalised as the Great Northern Railway Board (GNRB). During this period the UTA was busy closing lines throughout Northern Ireland but the joint nature of the GNRB arrangement staved off closures on the former GNRI system until 1958. Frustrated at not being able to close the lines of the former GNRI the Northern Ireland government dissolved the GNRB in May 1958. They divided the assets between the two states depending upon which side of the border they were located. Crumlin station and the former GNRI lines in Northern Ireland became part of the UTA.

The 1956 Handbook of Stations listed Crumlin as being able to handle passengers, general goods, parcels, furniture vans, livestock and horse boxes. At that time the yard crane was cabable of lifting 5 tons.

On 12 September 1960 the passenger service between Belfast Great Victoria Street and Antrim was withdrawn and all of the stations on the Antrim branch, including Crumlin, were closed completely.

The line had to remain open to serve goods services that ran to and from the Republic of Ireland. The southbound line (at this time still the down) and the goods sidings were lifted and the southbound platform waiting room was demolished.

After 15 February 1965 when the Portadown – Londonderry line was closed additional freight traffic started to use the line as it formed the only surviving route between Londonderry and the Republic of Ireland.

In 1968 the UTA was abolished and what was left of the Northern Ireland railway network became part of Northern Ireland Railways (NIR). NIR was a more pro-rail organisation and it set about making improvements to the network in the Belfast area. One of the most significant improvements saw the creation of a Belfast Central station which opened on 12 April 1976. The new station was designed to replace three termini that were located in different parts of the city and bring the train services together. At the time of opening it was able to replace two of the stations (Belfast Great Victoria Street and Belfast Queens Quay). It was also able to handle Londonderry services through a reopening of the Antrim branch.

To facilitate the running of Londonderry services into Belfast Central the Antrim branch was refurbished. Under NIR the line reverted to up being the Knockmore direction and down the Antrim direction.

At Crumlin the passing loop was put back. The signal box was demolished and signalling equipment (controlled from Antrim) was located inside the main station building. The station building was altered so that part of it became an open fronted waiting shelter.

A local passenger service was introduced between Lisburn and Antrim on 26 January 1974. It called at Crumlin and the other stations on the line. From 23 January 1978 Londonderry services started to run along the Antrim branch but most of them didn’t call at Crumlin.

On Friday 25 May 1979 the 20.10 Belfast Central to Londonderry train arrived at Crumlin at 20.46. The train, formed of a three-coach 80 class DMU, was busy as there were a number of passengers on board travelling to the North West 200 Motorcycle races at Portrush. The train departed from Crumlin at 20.47 and shortly after it had pulled out of the station a woman passenger noticed a parcel under one of the seats. The passenger alerted the conductor and the train was stopped 1½ miles to the north of the station. The passengers were quickly ushered off the train and the driver uncoupled the motor coach from the two carriages and moved it away in order to salvage it. Shortly after the parcel exploded starting a fierce fire. Minutes later a second bomb exploded and driving trailer number 748 was completely destroyed. Intermediate trailer 767 sustained slight damage. The observant woman passenger had saved the lives of many people as the terrorists had given no warning about the bombs.

In 1979 a siding was installed at Crumlin. It was located in the original goods yard (west side of the line) and its purpose was to facilitate the disposal of redundant rolling stock that was contaminated with blue asbestos. The redundant trains were brought to Crumlin and shunted onto the siding. They were then loaded onto lorries and taken to a nearby flooded quarry where they were sunk.

The June 1980 timetable showed 8 trains in each direction Monday-to-Friday. On Saturdays there were 7 trains each way and no trains served Crumlin on Sundays.

The aspiration of linking all of the Belfast termini had not been achieved in 1976 as Belfast York Road station had remained open to serve the Larne line. After 1976 this line was physically isolated from the rest of the system and NIR continued to pursue its objective of connecting it to Belfast Central. In the early 1990s work began on the Belfast Cross Harbour railway which opened on 28 November 1994. Larne line trains could now reach Belfast Central. The former NCC route between Belfast and Londonderry was shorter than the route via the Antrim branch and this led to NIR reopening the Antrim – Bleach Green Junction line to passenger services on 15 October 2001. From that date Belfast – Londonderry services ceased to run via Crumlin.

To serve the former GNRI Antrim branch a limited Belfast – Antrim service was operated. The July 2002 timetable showed 3 trains in each direction Monday-to-Friday. On Saturdays there were 4 services to Belfast, 2 services to Portrush and 1 service to Antrim. There was also a Sunday service of 1 train in each direction. The service was withdrawn completely on 30 June 2003 and Crumlin station was closed once again.

In the early months of 2017 the passing loop was lifted. The station was extant and line was used by occasional passenger diversions, engineering trains and enthusiasts’ specials.

Tickets from Michael Stewart and route map by Alan Young

Sources:

  • Along UTA Lines, Ulsters Rail Network in the 1960s - Ian McLarnon Sinclair - Colourpoint 2009
  • Dark Days and Brighter Days for Northern Ireland Railways - Edwin McMillan - Colourpoint 2016.
  • Johnson's Atlas & Gazetteer of the Railways of Ireland - Stephen Johnson - Midland Publishing 1997
  • One Hundred and Fifty Years of Irish Railways - Fergus Mulligan - Appletree Press 1983.
  • Railways in Ireland, Part 2 - Martin Bairstow 2007
  • The Great Northern Railway, an Irish Railway Pictorial - Tom Ferris - Midland Publishing 2003

To see the GNRI Antrim branch click on the station name: Knockmore, Knockmore Junction Halt, Brookmount, Brookhill Halt, Meeting House Halt, Ballinderry, Legatiriff Halt, Glenavy, Aldergrove and Millar's Bridge Halt

See also: Gortnagallon


Crumlin station looking north from the Main Street bridge in the 1950s.


Crumlin station shown on a 6-inch scale map from 1882.


By the 1950s when this 6-inch scale map was drawn there had been much development at Crumlin.


Number 43 heads a passenger train northwards from Crumlin in 1959. The loco is a UTA class SG 0-6-0 (ex GNRI), built by Beyer Peacock in 1913. It survived in service until 1965. To the right of the rear coach, the main station building is visible, and the line diverging from the bottom left is the goods yard siding. Passenger services were withdrawn the following year.
Copyright photo from Ernies Railway Archive

Looking south at Crumlin station. Ex NCC 2-6-0, number 97 "Earl of Ulster", stands at the station with the RCTS/IPRS/SLS joint Irish tour, "Farewell to Steam in Ireland". The date was 12th June 1964, and by this time the signal box had been abolished, but still survived in a derelict state.
Copyright photo from Ernies Railway Archive


Crumlin station looking south on 12 July 1965. A special working for 'Orangemen' stands at the station allowing the bandsmen and their followers to board. The train ran to Antrim. The Crumlin signal box had been demolished by this time.
Photo by Roger Joanes from his Flickr photostream


Looking north along the Knockmore Junction platform at Crumlin station on 4 August 1997. A Londonderry to Belfast Central service waits for a clear road south.
Photo by Roger Joanes from his Flickr photostream

Crumlin station looking north on 8 August 2001. An NIR 80 Class DMU is seen arriving at the station on a Belfast Central working. When the passing loop was put back in 1973 both lines were signalled for bi-directional working.
P
hoto by Alan Young

A view looking north at Crumlin station on 6 June 2017. The passing loop had been removed for a second time and the station was looking very derelict.
P
hoto by Paul Wright

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[Source: Paul Wright]




Last updated: Tuesday, 07-Nov-2017 16:29:12 GMT
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