Author:   John McGregor

Published:   2022
Edition:   Hardback
Pages:   128
Condition:   New
Genre:   Highland Railway (HR)

Status:   Available


No Way Through Great Glen Railway Schemes by John McGregor. This book details several unsuccessful schemes to construct a railway through the Great Glen.

Since the 1820s the Caledonian Canal has provided a through waterway, but the Glen’s railway history commences seriously with the Glasgow & North Western promotion of 1882-3, threatening the Highland Company’s established main line from Perth. Authorised in 1889, the West Highland Railway opened to Fort William in 1894. But would it continue to Inverness?

The Glen inevitably became a battleground. First tracing the background from the 1840s, McGregor explains how the Highland Railway, the North British, the Caledonian and even the Great North of Scotland were more-or-less ensnared by a succession of contests – all in the wider context of late 19th century transport development. This saw the West Highland line extended to Mallaig and the Highland’s Dingwall & Skye line extended to Kyle, while the Callander & Oban Company, satellite to the Caledonian, secured their branch to Ballachulish. He shows how economic and social conditions in the western Highlands and Islands had become politically contentious, with transport improvement a possible remedy. He touches on several other schemes which for one reason or another did not progress.

Attention ultimately fixes on the Invergarry & Fort Augustus Railway, the one Great Glen line ever to be built – at once a local scheme, in the tradition of earlier landowner-backed promotions, and an ill-judged speculation out of tune with the changing times. Though the little line might have reached Inverness, as its subscribers planned, it would remain in the end a hopelessly loss-making West Highland branch.


The West Highland Company in Being
Patched-up Quarrels
A Busy Year in Parliament
Invergarry and Fort Augustus Railway
A Several-sided Contest
Finding a Saviour
Last Battle