Station Name: FORT WILLIAM (1st site)

[Source: Martin Briscoe]

Date opened: 7.8.1894
Location: Linnhe Road (A82) now runs through the site of the station which was located at the junction with Gordon Square
Company on opening: West Highland Railway
Date closed to passengers: 9.6.1975
Date closed completely: 9.6.1975
Company on closing: British Rail (Scottish Region)
Present state: Demolished - no evidence of the station remains.
County: Inverness-shire
OS Grid Ref: MN101738
Date of visit: February 2007 and 16.6.2008

Notes: Fort William – The terminus at Fort William was located in Station Square adjacent to Loch Linnhe  and close to the pier and Macbraynes Bus Station. The main building was of brick and stone construction featuring a turret and a double arched entranceway. There were two platforms, one of which was an island, the track extended from one side of the island platform onto the pier.

Goods facilities were provided at a separate goods station at Parade Corner, half a mile north of the passenger terminus, close to the present Fort William Station. The goods stations consisted of a large brick goods shed and associated building and a loading platform with a canopy. The goods station has now been demolished and the site redeveloped. Fort
William also had a two road stone engine shed and turntable alongside the goods station.   In order to accommodate a new road through Fort William the station was resited half a mile north on 9th June 1975.  Construction of the new road had started prior to this date and after closure the station and adjacent bus station were quickly demolished. 


The origin of the West Highland Railway dates back to 1884 when the North British Railway backed the Glasgow & North Western Railway to build a line from the NBR at Maryhill in Glasgow to Fort William with a proposal to extend the line to a junction with the Highland Railway five miles south of Inverness.

The Highland Railway vigorously opposed the scheme which would have taken traffic from their own line as the proposed route would have reduced the distance between Glasgow and Inverness by 47 miles; the Bill was rejected. Three years later, the West Highland Railway Bill proposed a new line from Helensburgh on the NBR to Fort William with no connection to
Inverness. The Highland still opposed the scheme but without success and an Act was passed on 12th August 1889 and in the following session powers we obtained to build a short branch from Fort William to Banavie on the Caledonian Canal.

Construction started the same year and the line opened in its entirety on 7th August 1894 with the Banavie branch opening on 1st June 1895. Initially apart from a local service there were three daily trains between Glasgow and Fort William and a fourth from Kings Cross during the summer months. A sleeper service was introduced from Kings Cross in 1901.

In 1895 The West Highland and North British Railway introduced a Bill to extend the Banavie branch to Mallaig, a distance of 41 miles.  Once again the Highland opposed the scheme fearing that it would divert traffic from its route to Strome Ferry and its recently sanctioned route to the Kyle of Lochalsh. The Highland withdrew its objection after receiving an agreement that the West
Highland and NBR would not promote a line between Fort William and Inverness for at least 10 years.

The West Highland Act was passed in 1896 and construction started the following year but there were numerous engineering difficulties and the line, which was operated by the NBR, didn’t open for passenger traffic until 1st April 1901.

In 1896 the Invergarry and Fort Augustus Railway introduced a Bill to build a 24 mile branch from the West Highland at Spean Bridge to Fort Augustus. There was once again considerable opposition  from the Highland because of the short distance between Fort Augustus and Inverness but the Bill was passed on 24th August that year and despite the 1895
agreement there were several schemes to extend from Fort Augustus to Inverness but this never happened. Construction was completed at the end of 1901 but by this time there was no money to purchase locomotives and rolling stock due to the heavy engineering costs required to complete the line. The NBR offered to work the line at cost price but this was refused by the I & FA who instead offered the line to the Highland which brought the NBR in further dispute with the Highland.  The Highland eventually received authority to work the line which opened on 22nd July 1903. The NBR and Highland then settled their long running dispute with a further agreement not to encroach further on each others territory.

On the 31st December 1908 the original line between Craigendoran and Fort William, the Banavie branch and the Mallaig extension were absorbed by the NBR.

Initially the main line carried little freight traffic but this gradually improved and by 1920 there were five daily freight trains between Glasgow and Fort William.

The West Highland passed through some of the most scenic areas of Scotland. When built the section of line between Craigendoran and Fort William was largely without public roads and with the prospect of sparse traffic for many years the line was built as cheaply as possible with numerous sharp curves. The line between Craigendoran and Fort William and the Mallaig branch were single track throughout with passing places. Initially there were 16 intermediate stations on the main line with one station at the terminus of the Banavie branch. This was renamed Banavie Pier with the opening of the Mallaig extension and an extension station at Banavie was opened at the same time leaving the original terminus to serve the pier.

Most of the intermediate stations similar, the buildings being largely of timber construction on lower course of brick, except Rhu, Tulloch, Roy bridge, Spean Bridge and Fort William the stations have an island platform connected to the entrance by subway. The most important intermediate station is Crianlarich where there is a junction with the Callander – Oban line.
The buildings on the Mallaig extension are similar to those on the main line but with the exception of the terminus at Mallaig all the stations have side platforms.

The Fort Augustus branch closed to passenger traffic on 1st December 1933 and to goods on 1st January 1947.  The short branch to Banavie Pier closed to passengers on 16th December 1939 and to goods traffic on 6th August 1951.

The remainder of the line remains open to passenger traffic with a regular daily steam service called ‘The Jacobite’ during the summer operating between Fort William and Mallaig, this is the only scheduled steam hauled train to run on the mainline in Great Britain.  The goods station AT Fort William closed in the 1970’s but the line still carries freight traffic to the
aluminium smelter at Fort William. Until recently the paper mill at Corpach was also still rail served; the mill has now closed and has been demolished. The diesel shunter from the mill is on loan to the Strathspey Railway. A large saw build is to be built on the site, this will continue to use rail transport.

Tickets from Michael Stewart - Click here for a 40' model of the station - See also Trainspots

See also Banavie Pier and Fort Augustus branch

Fort William Station in the early 20th century
Copyright photo from
John Alsop collection

Fort William Station forecourt in July 1951
Copyright photo by E R Morten (To see more of E R Morten's railway photos see David Hey collection)

Fort William station forecourt in November 1965
hoto by Terry Tracey

Fort William Station in August 1966
hoto Robert Bridger (from 30937 Photographic Group web site)

Fort William Station in the 1970's
Photo by Kenny Macraild

Fort William Station shortly after closure. The track was lifted and the station demolished immediately after closure.
Photo by Kenny Macraild

Within a few weeks of closure in 1975 demolition of Fort William station is well underway.
Photo by AL Savage from
Julieanne Mountford photography web site

The site of Fort William Station looking north in February 2007. Compare this to the 1965 station forecourt picture above, the building on the right can be seen in both pictures.
hoto by Martin Briscoe

Click here for more pictures of Fort William Station




[Source: Martin Briscoe]

Last updated: Thursday, 21-Dec-2017 01:01:15 CET
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