Notes: Knockmore station, opened on 1 July 1974, was situated on the former Great Northern Railway Ireland Dublin – Belfast main line at Lisburn. Since 1968 the line had been part of Northern Ireland Railways (NIR). There had been a junction at Knockmore since 13 November 1871 when the Dublin & Antrim Junction Railway had opened its 20 mile Knockmore – Antrim branch. That line had closed to passengers on 12 September 1960 but it had remained open for freight services. On 11 February 1972 the Northern Ireland Government authorised the building of a new station at Belfast that was designed to bring together train services that used three separate termini in the city. The new station was to be called Belfast Central and to service it a long closed line, the Belfast Central Railway, had to be brought back to life. Other infrastructure improvements were also authorised including alterations at Knockmore to facilitate the reopening of the Antrim branch to passenger services.
The intention of NIR was to run Londonderry services to and from Belfast via the Antrim branch so that they could use the Belfast Central station. To do so the Antrim branch would have to be reopened to passenger services. In 1973 it was upgraded so this could happen. A Lisburn to Antrim passenger service was introduced on Saturday 26 January 1974.
Since the 1950s there had been a number of housing developments in the Knockmore area and to serve them NIR decided to open a station. A location was chosen that was just under ½ mile to the east of Knockmore Junction on the west and east sides of the Ballinderry Road bridge.
Initially the station consisted of a simple timber platform that served the down line (Belfast direction). This platform was on the east side of the Ballinderry Road Bridge. On the west side of the bridge there was a concrete platform on the up platform (Dublin direction). A footpath linked the down platform to Ballinderry Road and to the housing estate at Iniscarn Park. The Up platform was accessed via a gate that connected it to Ballycreen Drive.
The station was served by Belfast - Portadown services and by Lisburn - Antrim services.
As well as the junction at Knockmore there was also a level crossing and NIR wanted to close both. The solution was to lay a ‘third line’ parallel to the main line from Knockmore Junction to Lisburn station. Track laying started in 1975 and it resulted in a curious arrangement at Knockmore station for a short time. The new line was laid at the rear of the platform and a new concrete platform was built to serve it. A temporary bridge section provided a link between the concrete platform on the new line and the timber platform on the down main line.
On 31 May 1975 the timber down platform at Knockmore station was closed so that the third line could be completed. However at that point the project stalled due to planning issues and objections from residents and the matter ended up going to a public enquiry in May 1976.
From 31 May 1975 Knockmore was served only by main line trains travelling in the up direction. They were trains that ran from Belfast to Portadown.
The public enquiry ruled in favour of NIR but it took until mid-May 1977 for approval to be granted. The last full day of operation for Knockmore Junction signal box was Friday 27 May 1977. It was demolished the next day and the junction was removed. The final section of the ‘third line’ was laid.
The new line was brought into use on Monday 30 May 1977. From this date the 'third line' platform was brought into use and it was served by Up and Down trains running on the Antrim branch. The third line platform only served the Antrim branch services as there was no physical connection between it and the main line west of Lisburn station.
On 23 January 1978 Londonderry services started to use the Antrim branch and thereby access Belfast Central (opened 26 April 1976).
The Antrim branch timetable for 6 June 1980 timetable showed Knockmore as having 7 services to Belfast Central and 6 to Ballymena Monday-to-Friday. On Saturdays there were 6 services to Belfast Central and 5 to Ballymena. Through services to Londonderry did not call at Knockmore and no trains called there on Sundays.
On 3 March 1982 a bomb was exploded at Knockmore which caused damage to all three running lines causing disruption to services.
From 15 October 2001 Londonderry services were switched back to their pre-1978 route. They could now access Belfast Central and Great Victoria Street because of the cross harbour line that had opened at Belfast on 28 November 1994. That had been followed by the relaying of the line between Bleach Green Junction and Antrim during the November 1999 and late 2000 period.
After 15 October 2001 only a limited service was run between Belfast and Antrim. Knockmore was served by only 3 trains in each direction Monday-to-Saturday and 2 trains each way on Saturdays. On 30 June 2003 the service was withdrawn.
A service of 13 Monday-to-Friday and 15 Saturdays only trains in the up direction only (to Portadown) was all that remained. These trains were of little use to the residents of Knockmore and consequently they were little used. The service was withdrawn completely after the 18.45 Banger to Portadown service departed on 24 March 2005. The platforms were removed in 2014.
Tickets from Michael Stewart and route map by Alan Young
- 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
- Notes and diary records of Edwin McMillan
- 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 Junction Halt, Brookmount, Brookhill Halt,
Meeting House Halt, Ballinderry, Legatiriff Halt, Glenavy, Crumlin,
Aldergrove and Millar's Bridge Halt