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The Dunrod quarry branch


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The Greenock and Wemyss Bay railway was opened in 1865 and absorbed by the Caledonian Railway (which had worked it from the beginning) in 1893. There were two branches off of it, both closed many years ago. Recently, I walked the routes of both these branches, taking photographs. I’ll include the photos of one branch, that from Dunrod to the quarries in Shielhill Glen, in this topic, and start another topic for the Overton paper mill branch.


There were quarries in Shielhill Glen, above Inverkip, for many years. Red sandstone was quarried here, and much of it was used to build houses in Inverkip, Wemyss Bay and Skelmorlie. There is a well-built cart track into one of the quarries, still showing marks of cart wheels. In 1868, a short branch was opened from Dunrod to other quarries in Shielhill Glen. It operated for less than 20 years – the quarries apparently closed between 1876 and 1885. The track is shown as lifted on an 1897 map.


The first photo shows the line of the branch curving away from the Wemyss Bay line – it follows the fence and hedge on the middle right of the picture.




This part is still in use as a farm track. The next picture looks back towards the junction:




The line runs parallel to a road:




then crosses a road junction and passes through a field:






It then enters the glen itself. This is where the big surprise comes – the remains of the pillars and abutments of a three-span viaduct over the Kip Water, which runs through the glen:






remember that it’s at least 125 years since this line was closed!


The route of the branch then runs on a ledge cut in the south side of the glen:






A couple of landslips have blocked the route. One of them is pretty big – I had to climb out of the glen to go round it. (The road up the glen is currently closed, due to a landslip several months ago.) The whole route after the viaduct is quite a scramble, good walking boots are recommended. (Guess who was wearing runners? e5024227.jpg)


Finally, the branch ends at the quarries. According to maps, one of the quarries was across the Kip Water from the railway. This looks like the abutments of a bridge over the stream:




And this is the end of the line. There appear to have been loading banks on either side of the track:






I grew up less than 5 miles from this line. I’ve cycled through Shielhill Glen many times and walked the upper part of the glen a few times. I only found out about this branch when reading ‘Caley to the Coast’ by AJC Clark within the last couple of years! For a line closed in the 19th century, there is still a lot remaining to see.

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