Where is Kirkmellington?

So where and what is Kirkmellington?

Kirkmellington will represent a small colliery in the NCB East Ayr area of Scotland. It is assumed to be on a small single track branch line off the main G&SWR main line from Carlise to Kilmarnock that winds its way up into the Ayrshire hills near Patna and Dalmellington from the east. The branchline was assumed to have once been a through route towards Ayr but under the line closures of the 1960s it had been cut back to just beyond Kirkmellington to enable the colliery traffic to be moved. This means that all traffic from Kirkmellington has to run east to the main G&SWR before then continuing south for Carlisle or running round to head north for Ayr and Kilmarnock.

Schematic of Kirkmellington and surrounding railway lines

Schematic of Kirkmellington and surrounding railway lines

Similar lines existed in Ayrshire to collieries, towns and villages such as Dalmellington and Waterside. In addition, the main G&SWR line had direct links to line side collieries at places such as Kirkconnel. Coal traffic appears to have moved both north to Ayr and Kilmarnock & Glasgow and also south to Dumfries and Carlisle. This will give the layout a mix of Scottish region and London Midland region based locos.The layout has been sized to fit in a normal family car. This has restricted the size of the boards to 3ft by 2ft and the track plan is the best compromise between realism and operational interest in the available space. There is a through branch line which will see DMU traffic and the odd local freight or engineering working. The colliery has three exchange sidings, one dead end and two linked for run rounds. A headshunt then links these to the internal NCB network. This features a small engine shed, a dead end siding, two sidings which run under the loading screens (for saleable coal) and one siding which runs under a loading hopper for slag \ spoil.

Kirkmellington Track Plan copyright Tony Bucknell 2013

Kirkmellington Track Plan copyright Tony Bucknell 2013

Many collieries had internal railway systems linking to nearby mines or more often to the spoil tip. Whilst we cannot include any such link line on the layout, we have classed one of the lines through the colliery buildings (the hopper line) as a link up to the spoil tips and so we can now run internal NCB wagons as well as the mainline, BR, mineral wagons. This will give a splash of colour and variety to the layout and some operations challenges to keep the hired hands busy.

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3 Responses to “Where is Kirkmellington?”

  1. Jamie Wood January 15, 2013 at 7:27 pm #

    Well considered setting – as the high ground you’ve chosen (more or less between New Cumnock and Dalmellington, and extending northwards towards the likes of Drongan) is even now a productive part of the coalfield, albeit all opencast nowadays. The line would probably be tied in to the network maybe at Bank Jct or further North towards Cumnock I suppose. Perhaps also as a through route to the Killoch/Drongan area to the North West – the DMU service could then connect the upper Nith valley populations with Ayr in addition to your new mining population centres.

    Here – I’ll stop writing your story, suffice to say it fits and sounds perfectly plausible.

    • Black and Decker Boy January 17, 2013 at 8:09 pm #

      I’m glad it seems a feasible location. I was undecided if it should link to the north west to give a through route to Ayr as the colliery sidings are not set up for running both ways and the same DMU “may” be seen running in both directions fairly close together time wise.

      Maybe the upper end of the branch has already succumbed to the Beeching axe and the remaining length is soldiering on only because of the NCB tonnage on offer?

      • Jamie Wood January 19, 2013 at 10:05 pm #

        Sure, wouldn’t be at all without precedent – I can think of a couple that went that way, piecemeal closure.

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