County Donegal Railways

Gauge: 3ft (915mm)

 

Collection Objects

Number Railway Object Type Description Image
TYWRM:CDR002 County Donegal Railway nameplate Nameplate from locomotive 'FINN' file CDR002.jpg
TYWRM:CDR003 County Donegal Railway totem enamel sign 'DONEGAL RAILWAY CO' file CDR003.jpg
TYWRM:CDR004.1 County Donegal Railway advertising poster colour poster of CDR train in Barnesmore Gap file CDR004-1.jpg
TYWRM:CDR004.2 County Donegal Railway advertising poster reproduction colour poster of CDR train in Barnesmore Gap file CDR004-2.jpg
TYWRM:CDR005 County Donegal Railway axlebox cover axlebox cover from CDR locomotive bogie file CDR005.jpg
TYWRM:CDR006 County Donegal Railway nameplate Nameplate from locomotive 'GLENTIES' file CDR006.jpg
TYWRM:CDR008 County Donegal Railway semaphore signal Saxby and Farmer semaphore signal file CDR008.jpg
TYWRM:CDR009 County Donegal Railway nameplate Nameplate from locomotive 'STRANORLAR' file CDR009.jpg
TYWRM:CDR010 County Donegal Railway vehicle lamp tail lamp; glass; in wooden frame file CDR010.jpg
TYWRM:CDR011 County Donegal Railway timetable poster CDR timetable poster dated 5 June 1939 file CDR011.jpg
TYWRM:CDR012 County Donegal Railway advertising poster Colour CDR poster mounted on board file CDR012.jpg
TYWRM:CDR013 County Donegal Railway ticket dating press Ticket dating Press - side entry file CDR013.jpg
TYWRM:CDR014 County Donegal Railway ticket 78no. CDRJC tickets
TYWRM:CDR015 County Donegal Railway armorial device coat of arms 'COUNTY DONEGAL RAILWAYS JOINT COMMITTEE' file CDR015.jpg
TYWRM:CDR016 County Donegal Railway ticket Blue card Banking Engine Pass file CDR016.jpg
TYWRM:CDR017 County Donegal Railway ticket Pink card Banking Engine Ticket file CDR017.jpg
TYWRM:CDR018 County Donegal Railway timetable timetable booklet from 25 June 1958 file CDR018.jpg
TYWRM:CDR019 County Donegal Railway notice CDR card notice advertising First Class travel file CDR019.jpg
TYWRM:CDR020 County Donegal Railway advertising poster Special Excursion Poster for Bank Holiday Monday 4.8.1958 file CDR020A.jpg
TYWRM:CDR021 County Donegal Railway report Report to the Minister for Industry and Commerce on closure of CDRJC line from Donegal to Ballyshannon file CDR021.jpg
TYWRM:CDR022 County Donegal Railway report 12 page booklet with the accounts and statistics for the year ended 31st December 1944; including a map of the system file CDR022.jpg
TYWRM:CDR023 County Donegal Railway notice Circular 106/52 dated 5.3.1952 amending the Appendix to the Working Timetable file CDR023A.jpg
TYWRM:CDR024 County Donegal Railway notice Circular 79/59 dated 20.10.1959 amending the Working Timetable from 26.10.1959 file CDR024.jpg
TYWRM:CDR025 County Donegal Railway pass County Donegal Railways Free Pass file CDR025A.jpg
TYWRM:CDR026 County Donegal Railway advertising poster County Donegal Railway Joint Committee poster advising of the withdrawal of railway services between Strabane and Killybegs; Strabane and Letterkenny; and Donegal and Ballyshannon after 31 December 1959 file CDR026.jpg
TYWRM:CDR026.2 County Donegal Railway advertising poster County Donegal Railway Joint Committee poster advising of the withdrawal of railway services between Strabane and Killybegs; Strabane and Letterkenny; and Donegal and Ballyshannon after 31 December 1959 file CDR026-2.jpg
TYWRM:CDR027 County Donegal Railway notice County Donegal Railways hanging card advert for excursion tickets to Londonderry; Belfast and Dublin file CDR027.jpg
TYWRM:CDR028 County Donegal Railway report Strabane & Letterkenny Railway Co Report of the Directors and financial statement year ended 31.12.1945 file CDR028.jpg
TYWRM:CDR029 County Donegal Railway train staff County Donegal Railways train staff for the Letterkenny to Glenmaquin section of the Strabane and Letterkenny Railway file CDR029.jpg
TYWRM:CDR030 County Donegal Railway report 12 page booklet with the accounts and statistics for the year ended 31st December 1928; including a map of the system file CDR030.jpg
TYWRM:CDR031 County Donegal Railway book County Donegal Railways Appendix to the Working Timetable; 1st January 1935 file CDR031A.jpg
TYWRM:CDR032 County Donegal Railway stamp County Donegal Railway stamps; denominations 3d; 5d; 6d; 8d; 9d; 10d; 1/-; 2/- file CDR032.jpg
TYWRM:CDR033 County Donegal Railway waybill County Donegal Railways waybill; carbon copies from Killygordon station. file CDR033A.jpg
TYWRM:CDR034 County Donegal Railway label County Donegal Railway cycle label file CDR034.jpg
TYWRM:CDR035 County Donegal Railway rule book County Donegal Railways Joint Committee Rule and Regulations book dated 1908 file CDR035.jpg
TYWRM:CDR036 County Donegal Railway ticket County Donegal Railways caution ticket for drivers entering section under warning conditions file CDR036.jpg
TYWRM:CDR037 County Donegal Railway ticket Donegal Railway paper ticket Dunkineely to Dublin return 27.1.1896 file CDR037.jpg
TYWRM:CDR038 County Donegal Railway leaflet County Donegal Railway Excursion Arrangements leaflet for summer 1938 with timetable and fares and map of the system. file CDR038.jpg

 

 CDRMap

Stretching for many miles through a remote and mountainous part of Ireland this extensive narrow-gauge railway had a remarkable history of growth and expansion. It provided direct connections to the city quayside of Derry whilst reaching into the most inhospitable glens and mountain passes. Throughout its existence it provided vital transport to the communities it served. It also provided jobs for hundreds of people.

The origins of the County Donegal Railway lay in the Finn Valley Railway opened in September 1863 between Strabane and Stranorlar to the Irish standard gauge of 5’3″. From the mid-1870s representations were made for the extension of the railway westwards. In July 1879 an Act was passed empowering the West Donegal Railway Company to construct a line, eighteen miles in length from Stranorlar, through the Barnesmore Gap to Donegal town. This was to be built to Ireland’s second “standard gauge” of 3ft 0in. The WDR chairman, Lord Lifford, and many of the officials were also closely involved with the FVR.

Progress on the WDR was hindered by lack of money and the line was prematurely terminated four miles from Donegal. Nevertheless the line opened to traffic on the 25th April 1882, passengers being brought into Donegal by horse drawn carriage. Eventually finance was raised to bring the line into Donegal in 1889. To work the line, three 2-4-0 tank engines were purchased from Sharp, Stewart & Co. Transhipment of all passengers and freight to the broad gauge was, of course, necessary at Stranorlar.

The Light Railways (Ireland) Act of 1889 aided development of the railway system in Ireland by offering state aid to new light railway companies, in return for a commitment to operate the lines. Profits would be divided between the company and the state. Under the terms of this Act the West Donegal Light Railway opened in 1893 running for nineteen miles between Donegal and the port of Killybegs. The following year the Finn Valley Railway opened a twenty-four mile stretch of line alongside the Finn and Shallogan rivers between Stranorlar and Glenties. Both were 3ft 0in gauge.

By this time the FVR and WDR had merged under Parliamentary sanction in 1892 as the Donegal Railway Company. The opening of these new lines gave the Donegal Railway Company 75½ miles of track. The broad gauge FVR section was re-gauged to 3ft 0in in July 1894. Problems of transhipment at Stranorlar were simply transferred to Strabane. The advantages of securing independent access to the city and quays of Derry were recognised. Despite opposition from the Great Northern Railway, Parliamentary approval was obtained for the Donegal Railway’s own line from Strabane to Derry, opened in May 1900. At the same time, approval was granted for a branch line to Ballyshannon and this opened in 1905.

This growth began to take its toll on the company’s finances, and led to the purchase of the system in 1906 by an association of the Great Northern Railway and the (English) Midland Railway. Thereafter the DR became known as the County Donegal Railways Joint Committee (CDRJC). Under the new arrangement, all lines were operated by the CDRJC, except for the Strabane to Derry section which became the sole property of the Midland.

The final extension, a branch line from Strabane to Letterkenny, was opened in January 1909. A separate company was formed to construct this line, though both the GNR and the NCC had financial involvement. Trains were operated by the CDRJC, bringing the total mileage worked to 124½ miles.

With partition in 1921 six of the nine counties of Ulster were formed into the new Northern Ireland while the remaining three, Monaghan, Cavan and Donegal, became part of the new Irish Free State. This caused considerable inconvenience to the CDR as trains now had to negotiate customs inspections at Strabane (Northern Ireland) and Castlefinn or Lifford (Free State) which often led to long delays and timetable disruption.

Meanwhile a number of economy measures had been introduced, including the pioneering development of railcars – both petrol and diesel, which enabled the system to survive longer than many of its contemporaries. Even so after the Second World War, traffic on the system began to decline as a consequence of the competition from road transport. The Glenties branch closed to regular passenger and goods traffic on the 13th December 1947 and eventually to all traffic in March 1952.

Since 1948 the Derry section had come under the control of the Ulster Transport Authority. As losses mounted, the UTA applied for closure. By now, much of the permanent way was in need of repair and capital for replacement was not available. Formal application for complete closure of the system was made in May 1959 and all services ceased on 31st December 1959.

Locomotives

Class 1
1 Alice Sharp, Stewart No. 3023 of 1881; 2-4-0 tank. Scrapped 1926
2 Blanche Sharp, Stewart No. 3021 of 1881; 2-4-0 tank. Scrapped 1909
3 Lydia Sharp, Stewart No. 3022 of 1881; 2-4-0 tank. Scrapped 1910

Class 2
4 Meenglas Neilson & Co. No. 4573 of 1893; 4-6-0 tank. Scrapped 1935
5 Drumboe Neilson & Co. No. 4574 of 1893; 4-6-0 tank. Scrapped 1931
6 Inver Neilson & Co. No. 4575 of 1893; 4-6-0 tank. Scrapped 1931
7 Finn Neilson & Co. No. 4576 of 1893; 4-6-0 tank. Scrapped 1931
8 Foyle Neilson & Co. No. 4577 of 1893; 4-6-0 tank. Scrapped 1931
9 Colombkille Neilson & Co. No. 4578 of 1893; 4-6-0 tank. Scrapped 1937

Class 3
10 Sir James Neilson, Reid & Co. 6103 of 1902; 4-4-4 tank. Scrapped 1933
11 Hercules Neilson, Reid & Co. No. 6104 of 1902; 4-4-4 tank. Scrapped 1933

Class 4
12 (9) Eske Nasmyth, Wilson & Co. No. 697 of 1904; 4-6-4 tank. Scrapped 1954
13 (10) Owenea Nasmyth, Wilson & Co. No. 698 of 1904; 4-6-4 tank. Scrapped 1952
14 (11) Erne Nasmyth, Wilson & Co. No. 694 of 1904; 4-6-4 tank. Survived till closure
Scrapped 1968
15 (12) Mourne Nasmyth, Wilson & Co. No. 700 of 1904; 4-6-4 tank. Scrapped 1952

Class 5
16 Donegal Nasmyth, Wilson & Co. No. 828 of 1907; 2-6-4 tank. From 1937 4 Meenglas.
Survives
17 Glenties Nasmyth, Wilson & Co. No. 829 of 1907; 2-6-4 tank. From 1937 5 Drumboe.
Survives
18 Killybegs Nasmyth, Wilson & Co. No. 830 of 1907; 2-6-4 tank. From 1937 6
Columbkille. Survives
19 Letterkenny Nasmyth, Wilson & Co. No. 831 of 1908; 2-6-4 tank. From 1937 7 Finn
Scrapped 1940
19 Raphoe Nasmyth, Wilson & Co. No. 832 of 1908; 2-6-4 tank. From 1937 8 Foyle.
Scrapped 1955

Class 5A
21 Ballyshannon Nasmyth, Wilson & Co. No. 958 of 1912; 2-6-4 tank. From 1928 1 Alice
Scrapped 1961
3A Strabane Nasmyth, Wilson & Co. No. 957 of 1912; 2-6-4 tank. From 1928 3 Lydia
Scrapped 1961
2A Stranorlar Nasmyth, Wilson & Co. No. 956 of 1912; 2-6-4 tank. From 1928 2 Blanche
Survives

Internal Combustion
1 Petrol inspection car Alldays & Onions of 1906. Survives
2 Ford Petrol Railcar ex Derwent Valley Railway acquired 1926. Withdrawn 1934
3 Ford Petrol Railcar ex Derwent Valley Railway acquired 1926. Withdrawn 1934
2 Petrol Railcar ex C&VBT 193
3 Drewry Petrol Railcar ex Dublin & Blessington 1934. Converted to trailer 1944. Survives
4 Ford Petrol Railcar ex GNR 1928
6 Reo Petrol Railcar 1930. Rebuilt as trailer 1945
7 Diesel Railcar 1930. Scrapped 1949
8 Diesel Railcar 1931. Scrapped 1949
9 Reo Petrol Railcar 1933. Scrapped 1949
10 Reo Petrol Railcar 1933. Destroyed by fire 1939.
12 Diesel Railcar Walkers of Wigan of 1934
14 Diesel Railcar Walkers of Wigan of 1935
15 Diesel Railcar Walkers of Wigan of 1935
16 Diesel Railcar Walkers of Wigan of 1936
17 Diesel Railcar Walkers of Wigan of 1938. Destroyed in accident 1949
18 Diesel Railcar Walkers of Wigan of 1940
10 Diesel Railcar Walkers of Wigan of 1932 Ex Clogher Valley 1942
11 Phoenix Steam tractor by Atkinson Walker Waggons of 1928. Converted to diesel. Ex Clogher Valley 1942
19 Diesel Railcar Walkers of Wigan of 1950. Sold to Isle of Man Railway 1 March 1961. Survives.
20 Diesel Railcar Walkers of Wigan of 1951. Sold to Isle of Man Railway 1 March 1961. Survives.

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