The Railway Today
Sadly Torosay castle is up for sale and closed to the public in October 2010, as Mull
Rail largely exists to provide public access to the castle it is also closed to the public.
The long term future of both the castle and the railway must depend on who acquires
these unique assets in this remote part of Scotland.
History and Origins
|Busy day at
|Victoria the largest 260mm|
steam engine in the world
In 1975 the decision was taken to open Torosay Castle and Gardens on the Isle
of Mull to the public. It soon became apparent that the walk of almost two
miles from the pier was deterring many visitors (arriving by ferry from Oban)
from ever reaching the Castle. Rather than provide a rather dull and boring bus
service (which would have meant building a suitable road!) a narrow gauge
railway was decided upon and 260mm (10.25") gauge deemed to be just large
enough to provide a practical transport service whilst minimising costs by
adopting a gauge which was small but which was in use elsewhere and so had some
equipment already available.
Throughout railway history construction has been plagued by as many
political and financial difficulties as engineering ones, this railway was to
be no exception. By April 1982 the support of the Highlands and Islands
Development Board had been secured and construction was able to commence.
Engineering difficulties included a peat bog, which the railway crossed on a
foundation of 'geotextile' material, a plastic woven fabric manufactured
for the construction industry. This is not a new idea, the Liverpool and
Manchester Railway crossed Chat Moss on bundles of Birch Twigs in the 1820's.
|Craignure station with|
The ferry departing for Oban
On 22nd June 1984 the Railway was officially opened by Chris Green, General
Manager of Scotrail (although it had already carried many
passengers) and the line now carries 25-30,000 passengers a year and seems
unlikely to look back.
Passengers on the railway travelled in coaches as comfortable as 260mm gauge
vehicles are ever likely to be, although these are obviously diminutive
compared to those of larger narrow gauge railways.
The railway owned two steam engines,
these are built along the lines of a miniature 2' gauge locomotive and are
fascinating machines. Victoria is a 2.6.2 Tank engine and at 2.5 tonnes weight
is thought to be the largest and most powerful engine built for this diminutive
gauge to date.