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British Industrial History

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Kilmarnock and Troon Railway

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The Kilmarnock and Troon Railway was the first railway line in Scotland authorised by Act of Parliament, in 1808; It was authorised by 48 Geo. III., c. 46, of May 27th, 1808, to make a railway from Kilmarnock to Troon for the improvement of the Ayrshire estates of the Duke of Portland, who bore the cost of construction. The engineer was William Jessop. It was the first railway in Scotland to use a steam locomotive; and it was the only one in Scotland for fourteen years. The length was 9 miles, and the gauge 4ft.

The line was intended to carry coal for the Duke of Portland; and ran services between Kilmarnock and Troon Harbour.

The line began life as a 9.5-mile, double-track 4 ft gauge, horse-drawn waggonway which opened on 6 July 1812. It was built using cast iron plate rails with an inner flange.

1818 A 2.5-mile branch to Drybridge and Fairle colleries was built to 3 ft 4 in gauge. It opened in 1818. The branch had fish bellied edge rails set in iron chairs spiked to stone blocks.

A George Stephenson built locomotive, his second one from Killingworth colliery, was tried on the main line in 1817, but the weight of the engine broke the cast iron plate rails. It worked better when wooden rails were used; and the locomotive remained in use until 1848. Sprocket-wheels on the driving axles caused problems by digging up the pathway for horses which was raised up between the rails. An eye witness had commented upon the ease and grace by which the huge machine snorted along the line.

In 1837 an Act of Parliament was obtained to convert the line for locomotive use; and these services commenced on 27 September 1841.

On 16 July 1846 the line was leased to the Glasgow, Paisley, Kilmarnock and Ayr Railway (GPK&A).

On 16 July 1899 the line was bought by the GPK&A's successor, the Glasgow and South Western Railway, who ran services until the 1923 Grouping.

Services continued under the London, Midland and Scottish Railway and then British Rail until the line's closure to passenger traffic on 3 March 1969.

The Drybridge branch was abandoned in 1846 or 1849.


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