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Broughton To Talla, Reservoir Railway: Talla Reservoir To Glenriska

Railway (19-20th Century)

Site Name Broughton To Talla, Reservoir Railway: Talla Reservoir To Glenriska

Classification Railway (19-20th Century)

Alternative Name(s) Talla Waterworks Scheme, Construction Railway

Canmore ID 276379

Site Number NT12SW 37

NGR NT 107 230

NGR Description NT c. 107 230 to NT 1053 2999

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Scottish Borders, The
  • Parish Tweedsmuir
  • Former Region Borders
  • Former District Tweeddale
  • Former County Peebles-shire

Archaeology Notes

NT12SW 37 c. 107 230 to 1053 2999

Dismantled Railway [NAT] (centred NT 102 241)

OS 1:10,000 map, 1989.

For further portions of this railway, see:

NT12NW 57.00 NT 1053 2500 to NT 1170 2999 Glenriska to Stanhope

NT13SW 85.00 NT 1170 3000 to NT 1240 3498 Stanhope to Broughton

For adjacent and associated quarry (NT 10241 24453), see NT12SW 36.

For adjacent aqueduct, see NT12SW 38.

For Talla Reservoir (centred NT 1200 2140), see NT12SW 17.00.

This construction railway was built by the Edinburgh and District Water Trust to take advantage of the existing Caledonian Rly branch from Symington. The Caledonian Rly approved the scheme in April 1895.

The undertaking was of considerable size, the total length of the first proposal being about 10 miles (16.1km). As originally planned, it was divided between three contracts. 'Railway number one' comprised the major part of the line, from the construction site of the dam along the River Tweed and around Rachan Hill [name: NT 120 339] to a junction with the Caledonian Rly beyond the Biggar Water and facing Broughton. 'Railway number two' was to cross the Caledonian Rly and to continue N and W to skirt Broughton goods yard and serve clay pits beyond. 'Railway number three' was to be a short link from this line back to Broughton yard. In the event, the final scheme approximated to 'Railway number one'. The Caledonian Rly agreed to double the line between Broughton and Rachan at the Trust's expense, and to allow the Talla Rly exclusive use of the new track. This work was completed by the start of 1896.

A tender of £49,113 for the construction of the line was accepted from James Young and Sons of Edinburgh. Subcontractors for specific works included Robert McAlpine and Sons, and John Best of Leith. Work started on 28 September 1895, when Lady McDonald, wife of the Lord Provost of Edinburgh performed the opening ceremony by cutting the first turf near the site of the dam.

Work initially progressed well, there being 300 men at work by summer 1896. The first depot was established near the Ford road, where a shed and a platform were erected. A camp (with stores, offices and a workshop) was set up alongside the River Tweed at Mossfennan [name: NT 117 316]. A second small depot, with 700ft (213m) of siding, was established near Kingledores [name: NT 105 281].

The first portion of the line was opened (following official inspection) from Broughton to the abutment of the Tweed bridge (NT12NW 57.01) in March 1897. The contract for the construction of the dam itself was let in April, and the bridge itself completed later in the year. The first train crossed the bridge on 20 August and the official opening (by the 'Tweedsmuir Express') being on 29 September.

Meanwhile the financial relationship between the Caledonian Rly and thw Water Trustees. After James Young went to liquidation, their construction contract was relinquished in a bankruptcy hearing on 26 October 1899. The Caledonian Rly was asked to work the entire line, but declined. In December, John Best took responsibility for the construction of the dam and the operation of the railway under a new contract (worth £150,000). Considerable difficulty was encountered obtaining labour on account of other works in the Borders, and also the Boar War. It was also decided that the clay at Broughton was unsuitable for the construction of the dam, a new source being found at Carluke. A further siding, 400ft (122m) long, was built at Stanhope.

The valve-opening ceremony (to open the dam) was carried out on 20 May 1905, the Talla Water being then allowed to fill the reservoir. As the Claedonian Rly were not prepared to take over the line for public service, it was advertised for sale. Following purchase (for £6431 5s 3d) by P and D Maclennan the track and materials were removed, this operation being completed by July 1912.

[Notes and photographs re locomotives and rolling stock].

P Marshall 2005.

This railway was fundamental to the construction of the Talla Reservoir dam (NT12SW 17.01) and associated works. It was built over a period of 2 ½ years before the start of construction of the dam, presumably between about 1900 and 1902. Although termed a 'tramway' on occasion, this was a standard gauge railway of conventional ('heavyweight') construction and signalling.

It crossed the River Tweed and the Biggar Water on bridges (NT12NW 57.01 and NT13SW 85.01) of 100ft (30.5m) and 60ft (18.3m) span respectively. There are four other bridges at the crossings of public roads, and a number of accommodation bridges. The steepness of the ground and the proximity of the public road (A701) and the River Tweed necessitated the construction of considerable lengths of retaining walls.

The S end of the railway is ill-defined, and it presumably ended in extensive and presumably temporary construction systems. At the N end, it joined the Peebles-Symington branch of the former Caledonian Rly about 1.7km SE of Broughton Station (NT13NW 97). The line of the railway is closely followed by the southern portion of the aqueduct NT12SW 38.

Information from RCAHMS (RJCM), 31 October 2005.

W A Tait 1905.


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