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The Invergordon Archive

Aerial View looking North
The Invergordon Archive
Aerial View looking North

This aerial view is similar to picture #289 and was probably taken from a ship in the floating dock - the masts of two accommodation ships can be see on the left. Of interest is the train that can be seen running along the harbour. According to military plans, there were a number of lines and branches and sidings. The railway line along the shore went the entire way and towards Saltburn - thought to provide a temporary access to transport all the fill needed for land reclamation.
Picture added on 06 January 2016 at 10:56
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World War 1 Buildings
Quite a picture! Gives some idea of how things would be today if industry had not come to call. The buildings in the middle left (backing onto the railway) were presumably military accommodation of some kind.
Added by Bill Geddes on 12 October 2017
The railway line along the shore was a siding that ran from the main railway yard using the crossing at the west end of the High St. It was strictly for the dockyard and it terminated there.
Added by Harry O'Neill on 18 October 2017
The Dockyard railway systen ran through to the edge of Saltburn, along what was then called Dockyard Terrace, the railway line was lifted along the Saltburn Road/ Dockyard Terrace in 1920 as per these two stories from the Highland News which had an office in Castle Road, Invergordon.
The first from February 28th 1920. "The railway track along the side of Saltburn Road is now being raised by the Admiralty." The second from October 23rd 1920. "The railway alongside the Saltburn Road has now been entirely removed, and it is understood that the ground will be levelled to its original state."
Added by Alan Kinghorn on 30 October 2017
Interesting Alan, I often wondered why that stretch of land beside the road from the dockyard to the cottage brae looked different. picture #31 and picture #406 shows clearly the lay of the land.
Added by Harry O'Neill on 30 October 2017
Any idea what the purpose was to extend the railway this far along the Saltburn road?
Added by Eddie Trotter on 03 November 2017
The railway arrived in Invergordon in 1863 and, looking at the 6-inch OS map of 1880 (which was surveyed in 1872) it can be seen that the branch line from the station sidings across the road to the harbour already existed. The map shows the line running east, just south of the Bone Mill, and terminating at the southern part of Munro Street. Provision of this branch makes sense as most if not all freight up until then would have been transported by sea, allowing this to be moved straight onto railway wagons rather than using horse-drawn wagons through the town to the railway station.

In Marinell Ash’s book, ‘This Noble Harbour’, she mentions on Page 181 that the Channel Fleet paid its first official visit to Invergordon in 1863: “At the time of the Fleet’s first visit work was already under way to reclaim land at Chapel Bay on the harbour at Invergordon. About 40,000 cubic yards of clay from the railway cutting at the back of Invergordon were transported to the shore by means of a specially constructed tramway. A stone breastwork about two hundred and fifty yards long was built to protect the infill. After construction was finished the tramway was realigned to the edge of the new embankment and the existing road extended to run parallel with it, thus providing access from the railway line to the harbour for the first time.”

The 1880 OS map shows the coastline from the harbour eastwards following the general path of the railway line. There is no land reclaimed as shown in the above photo. So the infill referred to above must be south of the station to allow the harbour branch line to be constructed.

This same 1880 OS map shows no buildings eastwards on the north side of the High Street and then Saltburn Road from the Police Station, known as the old ‘Lock-Up’ – next to Frew’s Garage, to the old school building at the western end of Saltburn. There is of course Seabank Cottage but this is set back up on hill on Seabank Road. On the 6-inch OS map of 1907 there is no change. From 1910 to 1915, having established the Firth, and in particular Invergordon, as a ‘floating second-class naval base and war anchorage …. fortified on a scale sufficient to deter armoured attack’ (This Noble Harbour - Page 188), there was considerable development regarding housing and the hospital. Up until that time, Saltburn Road as we know it was a fairly narrow road at the side of the Firth with no sea defence. It is very different now and I would suggest that prior to building the officer’s cottages overlooking the Firth and the hospital that sea defences would have been constructed. It is likely that a similar method would have been used as for Chapel Bay described above. Infill may have been needed, but the use of a tramway or small railway would have been appropriate for the transport of building materials. How this would have connected to the existing railway siding which terminated at Munro Street is not known, but level ground exists between the end of the railway siding and Saltburn Road by following the coastline.
Added by Malcolm McKean on 05 November 2017
Hi Eddie, think it accessed the quarry in Saltburn, but not positive. There is some info online that indicates this though.
Added by Harry O'Neill on 09 November 2017
The purpose of the siding to the north of the Admiralty Cottages and the R.N. Hospital and the siding to Saltburn was as follows, taken from the book "British Railways and the Great War" written by Edwin A. Pratt.
From Page 536 - "Transport of the materials required for the building of the model village (Admiralty Cottages) necessitated laying down of additional sidings North of Invergordon. Eventually these sidings were extended past the harbour for about half a mile to a borrow pit from which a large quantity of soil, etc., was taken for the reclamation carried out at the harbour, where a long timber jetty into deep water was built."
Added by Alan Kinghorn on 16 November 2017
Alan, this is brilliant and, with your earlier comment, ties in with the comment made by Graham Mackenzie on 28th October 2014 on picture #1614 regarding the site of an old quarry at Saltburn. As no other quarry has come to light in that area, it is quite likely to have been the one used for the reclamation of land at the harbour mentioned in Edwin A. Pratt’s book.

What is also of interest is that there is no mention of a narrow gauge railway in Pratt’s book so I guess we must assume that all the rail lines were of standard gauge barring the one (‘tramway’) mentioned in Marinell Ash’s book regarding transporting of the infill to Chapel Bay.
Added by Malcolm McKean on 17 November 2017
Yes thanks to you Alan, I am now reading Edwin A Pratt's book, very informative.
Added by Harry O'Neill on 17 November 2017
'Inverness & Ross-shire Railway' (Keith Fenwick) also has interesting details of the various Invergordon area lines/operations. For example details re the 'other' lower Dalmore branch & workings (shore/Belleport way from distillery which was used as mine factory & barracks). Interestingly a steam railcar from England was once used to transport personnel between Dalmore & Invergordon. Book is published by the Highland Railway Society. Cheers folks, love this site, best wishes to you all & particularly to the admins.
Added by Dave Fleming on 20 December 2017
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World War 1 Buildings

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