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All Aboard For Blairgowrie

All Aboard For Blairgowrie

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1855 All Aboard For Blairgowrie


All Aboard For Blairgowrie

“Change here for Blairgowrie” – John Robertson, Railway Porter.

Many of Blairgowrie and Rattray street names have interesting origins and can provide a fascinating glimpse into the town’s past. None more so than Signal Box Road, Terminus Street, Station Brae, Yard Road and Railway Road. Apart from these street names, very little remains of Blairgowrie Railway Station and the Blairgowrie Branch Line. The site is now the location of a large supermarket and the Blairgowrie Waste and Recycling Centre.

It was in November 1853 that the ceremony of turning the first sod  of the Blairgowrie Branch Line took place.

The detail of the inscription can be seen below:

The line opened on 1 August 1855. The original Blairgowrie Station building, built by the Scottish Midland Railway Company, was rebuilt in 1895 by the Caledonian Railway. There was also a station at Rosemount, opened in September 1857 by the Scottish Midland Junction Railway. The name was changed to Rosemount Halt in 1938. This shows the wooden waiting room, the Station Master’s House and the Level Crossing.

This station would have been used by golfers.

There was also a halt at Stormont Loch which would have been popular with curlers and ice skaters in the Winter months. Before cars, buses and heavy goods vehicles, almost everything and everybody coming into and out of Blairgowrie, would have travelled by train. This was an extremely busy railway line for both freight and passengers. This would have been a common sight as carters brought goods and produce to be loaded on to railway wagons. Saturday trains would have been busy with local people going to Dundee for shopping. Extra trains were laid on for special events like the Blairgowrie Highland Games and the Fair o’ Blair. 

On Wednesday 25 July 1906 the Dundee Courier reported:

BLAIRGOWRIE – The Fair – Yesterday the town was alive with visitors on the occasion of the Fair o’ Blair. Special trains poured in holidaymakers, while from the country round carriages, motors, and bicycles contributed to the crowd. An unusual passenger! Tony Brenchley writes in “A Social History of Blairgowrie and Rattray” of ‘the most unusual regular passenger’ in the late 1920s and into the 1930s.

“ Jock the Craw had a nest in the big trees near the Hill Church Manse. At the sound of the whistle of a train approaching Blairgowrie he would fly out to the engine and, enticed by titbits from the enginemen’s lunch packs, perch on the tender until the engine reached the platform. Jock would never go into the train shed or other buildings, and usually only went on out-going trains as far as the ’white gates’ where a track to Blairgowrie House crossed the railway. However, on one occasion he was persuaded to go as far as Rosemount. Perhaps the contents of the engineman’s ‘pieces’ were particularly good that day!”

It is sixty years since Dr Richard Beeching published the first of two reports ‘ The Reshaping of British Railways’ (1963). It was followed in 1965 by ‘The Development of the Major Railway Trunk Routes’. The name Beeching will forever be associated with the loss of so many of our railways. With the Blairgowrie passenger service having already ended on 10 January 1955 (prior to Beeching), the end of the line for freight services finally came on 6 December 1965. The demise of the Blairgowrie Branch Line was met with great sadness, as the railway had made an important contribution to the development and prosperity of the town and had enriched the lives of residents.

As well as several railway related street names, some sections of the former railway lines in the wider area have found a new life as walking and cycling routes, some as part of the Perth & Kinross core path network.Some sections, such as those at Ballathie and Newtyle, still retain some railway infrastructure alongside the paths.

Further information on the Blairgowrie Branch Line and the wider rail network can be found here: 

Read more in “A Social History of Blairgowrie and Rattray” edited and compiled by Margaret Laing.

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