original substantial station in Market Street Downpatrick was
demolished in 1972 to make way for a supermarket. It had served
as a bus station with the Ulster Transport Authority and Ulsterbus
from the railway's closure in 1950 until 1972.
Downpatrick gasworks was located just across the street from the
railway station. When it was closed and demolished to make way
for a new college, the manager's house, a listed 19th century
building, had to be retained. The Railway came to an arrangement
with the local Education and Library Board whereby the building
was dismantled, moved across the road to the railway site and
a grant was obtained for its reconstruction as the station building.
Although it never was a railway station, it looks right as a branch
line station and many passengers comment on remembering railway
stations like it!
In 1992 the
Station was awarded the Ian Allan Heritage Award, First Class,
and this was presented to the Railway by the Duke of Gloucester
in London. At the end of 1998 a canopy was erected over the platform.
This canopy is the re-erection of a canopy which belonged to the
Goods Shed at Maghera in Co. Londonderry, which we have also re-erected
as a new engine-shed.
Downpatrick Loop Platform in 1986.
Loop Platform as it is today.
Downpatrick & Co. Down Railway is the only preserved railway
in the British Isles with a triangle of track - the Downpatrick
Loop, a feature that gives us many potential variations in train
Downpatrick Loop Platform was built at the southern end of the triangle,
and is the only surviving BCDR building in Downpatrick and was built
at the end Nineteenth Century to solve a operating problem that
the BCDR found themselves in after taking over another railway.
When the line was being built from Belfast, the intention was that
it would go no further than Downpatrick. Ten years later another
company, the Downpatrick, Dundrum and Newcastle Railway, extended
the line south to the seaside resort of Newcastle. When this company
was taken over by the BCDR, the larger express trains from Belfast
would have to stop for long periods at Downpatrick to allow the
locomotive to be turned and run-round the train before it could
carry on to Newcastle, and again when returning to Belfast. As a
result an avoiding line was built about a quarter of a mile out
of Downpatrick Station between the two lines. The Loop Platform
allowed passengers travelling to Downpatrick to board a branch train
without the operational delays and problems of before.
Victorian canopy at Downpatrick Loop was the only original railway
structure to survive at Downpatrick. As the Loop platform has no
road access, the canopy survived the demolition squads in the 1950s.
When the DCDR project was begun, it was planned to restore the original
structure. However it turned out to be in too bad a state of repair
to restore, and it was in a dangerous state. Therefore, in 1993,
a decison was taken to build a replica, incorporating parts of the
original ironwork. This was done with the assistance of a grant
from the International Fund for Ireland.
NCC Signal Cabin
LMS (NCC) cabin was originally located at King's Bog level crossing
on the Belfast-Ballyclare road. When we were looking for a signal
cabin for the Downpatrick museum, Northern Ireland Railways offered
three for consideration; Bangor, Larne Harbour and King's Bog.
Bangor, as it was a BCDR cabin was the first choice. However, its
location beside a busy main line made it impossible to remove. Nevertheless,
the DCDR did recover the signal frame and an ex-signalman, both
of which have been installed in the King's Bog cabin (railway humour!).
Larne Harbour was a possibility, but the choice fell on King's Bog
because not only was it easy to access for dismantling - it was
also much bigger than Larne Harbour, an important point when considering
access for parties of visitors.
Another advantage was that it originally controlled the junction
between the NCC main line and the Ballyclare branch, so it has windows
on all four sides. This was an advantage when the sidings into the
Maghera shed were installed as these run behind the cabin. The building
was dismantled by DCDR volunteers and the bulk of the rebuilding
was also carried out by our volunteers. As a little touch, the cabin
now incorporates some bricks salvaged from the ruins of the original
Downpatrick North cabin.
Goods Transhipment Shed
Belfast & Northern Counties Railway goods transhipment shed,
originally part of Maghera station complex located on the Derry
Central Railway, was a listed building owned by the Dept of the
site at Maghera, Co. Londonderry, was required for redevelopment
so the Dept of the Environment came to an arrangement with the
DCDR whereby they dismantled and removed the shed to Downpatrick,
and the DCDR applied for a Heritage Lottery Fund grant to have
it rebuilt. It now serves as a locomotive shed.
The shed also
had a small three column canopy over the loading bay platform,
although there was no direct access from underneath the canopy.
It was as a result of enquiring about the acquisition of the canopy
for use over the station platform that the complete building is
being reconstructed at Downpatrick. The enquiry was met with a
"Yes", but providing we took the rest of the shed as well!
Stock Overhaul and Rebuilding Workshop
general proportions of this building are based on those of the
Goods Shed at the BCDR station in Newtownards.
The Railway was offered the original shed which was due for demolition
to make way for a new college. However, as it was a stone-built
structure, it would have been too heavy for the very marshy ground
on which it would have had to be built, without the use of substantial
and therefore very expensive piling. So with regret the offer
had to be turned down.
The building erected is a lightweight structure suitable for the
soft ground at Downpatrick.
new halt was built at the site of the burial mound of the Viking
King Magnus Barefoot, 1994. Magnus was King of Norway and Man
and was slain in battle at this spot in 1103, he and his soldiers
are believed to be buried around the trees behind the platform.
monument marking the site was erected in March 2003 to mark the
900th anniversary of his death.
below gives a history of Magnus' life and includes a description
of the battle where he met his death.
of the Vikings in Ulster
Steam in the Heart
We hope you enjoy visiting our website, and
that you'll visit us in person soon!