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Connel Ferry Viaduct

(1914-1967)


Summary

The Ballachulish branch spanned the Falls of Lora at the mouth of Loch Etive on a magnificent cantilever bridge. A station named North Connel was opened near the north end of the bridge on 7 March 1904.

For a while, the Railway resisted pressure from the local authority and others to provide a footpath allowing people to cross the bridge on foot. From July 1909, a motor charabanc that had been adapted to run on rails provided shuttle services across the bridge, calling at Connel Ferry and North Connel and sometimes on to Benderloch. Motor cars were transported on wagons between Connel Ferry and Benderloch stations. In June 1914, a roadway was added across the bridge, immediately west of the railway. At the north end of the bridge, the roadway crossed to the opposite side of the railway. Road traffic and trains were not permitted on the bridge at the same time, and road traffic was single-file only. A toll was payable by road users, including pedestrians.

The method of protecting the roadway was significantly altered in 1930, when a system of interlocked stop signals and ground frames replaced the former interlocking with the tablet instruments. The new arrangements separated control of the gates from the tablet working and allowed the roadway to remain open for longer periods between trains. As part of these alterations, a mechanical indicator showing "Stop" or "Come on" was installed to control road traffic at the south end of the bridge. It was operated from a 1-lever ground frame at the north end. The mechanical indicator was replaced by a red/green colour light signal c.1953.


20 June 1914

Col. Pringle (Board of Trade) reported on his inspection of alterations to enable pedestrians and wheeled traffic to pass over the rail bridge. The roadway approach on each side of the bridge had been fenced and the track (on the west side of the bridge way) had been asphalted and provided with suitable wheel guards. There was a gateman's hut and two gates at each end of the viaduct, one for vehicles and one for pedestrians. The gates were controlled by an occupation key kept locked in an instrument in either of the gatemen's huts. The width of the track for vehicle and passenger traffic was 6 ft. 8 ins. only, so there was therefore no room for wheeled vehicles to pass on the bridge, nor for a train and a vehicle to pass each other with safety. This has rendered necessary some very intricate electrical interlocking in connection with the train tablet instruments at Connel Ferry West and Benderloch signal boxes. Therefore it was only necessary to say that tablet working on the railway had to be broken down before the occupation key could be removed by the gateman from the special instrument, and that all the tablets had to be in the Tyer's instruments before the signalman at Connel Ferry West was in a position to free the key for the use of the gateman. Similarly, all four bridge approach gates had to be properly closed and locked and the key returned to its position in one or other of the watchmen's instruments before tablet working on the railway could be resumed. An emergency key was kept in Connel Ferry West box for use of the stationmaster in case of a breakdown of the electric interlocking or damage with loss of an electric tablet or an occupation key. This electric key also broke down tablet working. Testing of this equipment in a variety of ways found no loophole which had not been foreseen and protected. There was an electric bell the public could use to call a gateman if he happened to be at the far end of the bridge. He suggested alteration of the wording of the notice re. the bell to give the general public fuller information re. the whereabouts of the gateman who was in telephone communication with both boxes on either side of the bridge. Facilities to the public were only available during daylight hours as there were no lighting arrangements on the bridge or approaches.


14 May 1930

Revised signalling arrangements introduced, making control of the gates independent of the tablet working.



Connel Ferry Viaduct (1953)
Connel Ferry Viaduct (1953)

16 September 1957

Temporary siding opened at south end of bridge. 2-lever ground frame released by section token.


14 January 1958

Temporary siding at south end of bridge removed.