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Rathlin Island Railway

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Hello all


A friend recently told me about a railway on Rathlin Island, used for the construction of the lighthouse. I quote here:


"Progress was slow and during 1914 the Board of Trade enquired if the work could not be hastened. When one sees the amount of concrete poured and set against the cliff at Crockantirrive coupled with an inclined railway built at Corraghy so that materials could be landed and brought across to the new station, no wonder the building took so long".


Anyone have any info on it? Gauge, stock, when it closed etc.? I would imagine that it was man-powered.



In addition, there appears to be this 'carriage' on the island. While I personally think that the wheel on it could be a road wheel, I'd be interested to see people's thoughts on it:





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The Lighthouse that you are referring to is Rathlin West Lighthouse , one of three Lighthouses on Rathlin Island . The other two Lighthouses are Rathlin East and Rue Point , which can be seen on your right as you enter the port from Ballycastle .


A temporary pier was built below the base of the Lighthouse . An inclined railway was constructed from the pier to the cliff top to facilitate the transpotation of materials for the construction of the Lighthouse .

The are no details of the railway / track gauge . I would sugguest that it was Funicar type railway and it would have been 2' gauge as that was the norm for contractors to use . There would not have been a locomotive used here but a steam driven winch / pulley system or even horse driven.


This is Irelands only upside Lighthouse . The quality of concrete used back in 1912 was superb as it has not deteriorated over the years . The are approx 180 steps down from the top down to the Lighthouse itself . Rathlin West Lighthouse is worth a vist if you are in County Antrim just to see the quality of the workmanship from a 100 years ago which you will not see today .


The van in the picture was the local telephone exhange from Rathlin to Ballycastle using radio link / micro wave before a cable was laid on the sea bed and the radio link decommissioned .


The Fastnet Lighthouse had a 2' gauge track with a truck that would transport the granite from where it is was landed from the boat and transported to base of the Lighthouse . A block & tackle with a truck on wheels with the granite piece secured would be pulled up the side of the lighthouse to where it was reqiured .

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According to Johnson's Atlas & Gazetteer there were two railways on Rathlin Island:


#379 - as Joe Keegan mentioned above, this was the inclined plane used in the construction of the West Lighthouse. It was about 200 yards long and was operated by a four horse winch. In operation from about 1912 until circa 1917.


#409 - a ¾-mile 3' gauge tramway linking the Killeany Limestone Quarries to the pier in Church Bay. It was owned by a Mr Johnson and seems to have been in operation around the 1922 period. The stone exported from the quarry went to Glasgow.

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The van in the picture is indeed a mobile telephone exchange. A number of these were based in N. Ireland and were used when the permanent exchange was out of service due to fire, flooding or when, in some cases, was blown up during the Troubles. I think I am right in saying that Castlewellan was the last time one was used due to an explosion.

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