A History of Me

Dundee / Newtyle Railway - general background

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Map of the lines The Dundee and Newtyle Railway Company was formed in 1826 and in the following year tenders were invited for contractual engineering works. This was the first railway to be built in the north of Scotland. It was planned as a link between the manufacturing city of Dundee and the fertile valley of Strathmore. However, it terminated at Newtyle which, at that time, was little more than a mill and a few houses, rather than Forfar or another of the larger Strathmore towns.

The line was built with a 4 foot 6 inch gauge - there being no standard gauge accepted at that time. It had several unusual features. Charles Landale *, the engineer, decided on a policy of 'up and over' for the Sidlaws, rather than go round them, and this resulted in three inclines, at Law (1 in 10), Balbeuchly (1 in 25) and Hatton (1 in 13). The inclines were worked by stationary steam engines. Initially the coaches and wagons were pulled by horses over the level stretches of line between the inclines. Later two steam locomotives were used although horses provided the back-up when the locomotives broke down.

The tunnel through Dundee Law was completed in 1829 and opened to traffic on 16th December 1831.

In its own way the railway was one of the most important early lines in Scotland. It was the first Scottish public line not to rely on a coalfield for the bulk of its traffic and can therefore be regarded as the first Scottish railway to be built for general traffic in both directions. The railway was leased to the Dundee & Perth Railway in 1846 and eventually became part of the giant Caledonian system (in 1865). The gauge was altered to standard in 1849 and during the 1860s deviation lines were opened to avoid the three inclines, which then fell into disuse.

Sources Archive of Shiell and Small *, the solicitors for the Company and Don Martin and Paul Bamford * in www.victoriantimes.org

The map shows the original lines plus deviations. Although Google found it at http://www.railscot.co.uk/Dundee_and_Newtyle_Railway/frame.htm I've noticed that the link to the site doesn't work every time.


Please feel free to contact me by e-mail at elliottsimpson@hotmail.com

* these links no longer connect

July 2006