Giant's Causeway & Bushmills Railway

'...listen for the whistle...'

Information

The Causeway Tramway was re-opened Spring 2002. The locomotives and rolling stock were once used at Shane's Castle and include a Peckett 0-4-0 WT 'Tyrone' built in 1904 for the British Aluminium Company, Larne, a Barclay 0-4-0WT 'Shane' built in 1949 for Bord na Mona (incidentally the same year that the old tramway closed) and a Simplex 'T' class diesel locomotive (Rory). An interesting fact  'Shane' was one of three locomotives built by Andrew Barclay of Kilmarnock for use on the peat bog rail by Bord na Mona and was specifically designed to burn peat.
Prior to the initiation of the original Giant's Causeway Tramway in 1883, there had been several meetings, engineer surveys and costing done to evaluate the feasibility of constructing a railway line along the coast from Portrush to Ballycastle, the idea  being to link the commercial coal, bauxite, iron, limestone, lignite and basalt industries along the north coast with the commercial harbour of Portrush. The ambitious proposal  was shelved due to a lack of finance and doubts about the returns from such an investment. A narrow gauge railway was eventually built from Ballycastle to Ballymoney via Armoy and Dervock. The Giant's Causeway tramway was brought into being by the vision and enthusiasm of Mr William Traill of Ballyclough who himself was a keen advocate of the railway and kept well informed on technological development in engineering. It was this fact coupled with the Siemens Company showing the first electric railway system at the Berlin Trade Fair in 1879, that lead to that company being commissioned to incorporate their technology into the Giant's Causeway Tramway system. Mr Traill built the generating station at the Walkmill Falls (still there but minus the equipment) and installed water turbines to produce the necessary electrical power for the tram line. Sir Macnaghten of Dundarave was very opposed to the construction of the railway to the point that he diverted water from the river Bush above the Falls in an attempt to lessen the flow. However, the tramway opened in 1883 and was hailed as the world’s first commercially run 'hydro-electric' powered tram system. The initial electric cars were Midland Carriage and Wagons which were later followed by GEC and a Peckham car. Although hydro-electric power was used, most of the time two Wilkinson steam locomotives hauled the carriages. It originally ran from Portrush to Bushmills with a later extension added to the Giants Causeway. In 1899 the live rail which ran alongside the track, was replaced by an overhead electric wire, steam haulage ended in 1916.  The tramway ran for 65 years before finally closing down in 1949.
The carefully planned design of the railway’s station, workshops, carriage sheds and signs hark back to this golden era. The Giants Causeway station offers various facilities including a picnic area, restrooms, cafe and car park.
The Giants Causeway & Bushmills Railway Company accepts no liability for any loss, inconvenience or delay. It is advisable to check if the service is operating to avoid disappointment. The Giant's Causeway & Bushmills Railway is a not-for-profit organisation, limited by guarantee. Charity Reference No: XR 208

WA Shearings