Lanarkshire and Ayrshire Railway

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Lanarkshire and Ayrshire Railway
Principal stations (stations in bold are open)
Brackenhills                       Auchenmade
Glengarnock Kilwinning
Kilbirnie                Stevenston                Bogside
Saltcoats Irvine
Montgomerie Pier

The Lanarkshire and Ayrshire Railway was an extension of the Caledonian Railway in Scotland that provided services between Ardrossan and Glasgow, with branches to Irvine and Kilbirnie.



Early days

The Lanarkshire and Ayrshire Railway began life as the Barrmill and Kilwinning Railway, which was to be a simple line running from Barrmill station to a junction just north of Kilwinning station on the Glasgow and South Western Railway. To this effect, the 'Barrmill and Kilwinning Railway Act' received Royal Assent on 20 August 1883. However a year later a heavily modified act was submitted to Parliament, including extensions to Ardrossan, Irvine, Ardeer Ironworks, Eglinton Ironworks and Kilbirnie. A change of name for the company was also approved, and so the 'Lanarkshire and Ayrshire Railway Act' received Royal Assent on 28 August 1884.

The opening ceremony for the railway took place on 3 September 1888 at the Ardrossan station, with a special train service running to Glasgow that day. Full passenger services began on 4 September 1888. The branch to Kilbirnie was opened on 1 November 1889 for goods traffic and opened to passengers on 1 December 1889, and the branch to Irvine was opened the following year on 2 June 1890. Ardrossan Montgomerie Pier station opened on 30 May 1890.

The first train timetable for the line in 1888.

Further extensions

Fierce rivalry with the Glasgow and South Western Railway meant that in 1898 construction began on a further extension of the line from Giffen to Newton. This meant that the Caledonian Railway would be able to avoid use of the Glasgow and Kilmarnock Joint Railway, and therefore avoid sharing revenue with the G&SWR. After five years of construction the new branch opened in 1903 with several new stations along the route, many of which were duplicates of stations on the joint line.

A premature end

The duplication of lines and stations would soon become worthless when both the Caledonian and Glasgow and South Western Railways were merged as part of the larger London, Midland and Scottish Railway group in 1923. With too many lines serving the one area and no competition, the first closures on the line occurred in the summer of 1930 when the Irvine branch was closed to passenger services, with the Kilbirnie branch closing to all traffic later that same year. On 4 July 1932 all stations from Ardrossan North to Uplawmoor were closed to passenger services. Passenger and freight services to Montgomerie Pier continued for many years, and with the closure of the Stevenston to Kilwinning East section in 1947 a link was created between the remaining line to Montgomerie Pier and the former G&SWR Glasgow line. This link was eventually closed to all traffic in 1968, and was completely lifted in 1970.

Company Directors

At the time of the railway opening in 1888, the company directors were:

  • G. R. Vernon, M.P. (Chairman)
  • J. C. Cuninghame
  • The Earl of Eglinton and Winton
  • R. W. Knox
  • James Neilson
  • Archibald Russell
  • John Watson
  • John Cunninghame

Railway map

The following map illustrates the route of the Lanarkshire and Ayrshire Railway in 1906:

Connections to other lines

Current Operations

The line between Newton and Neilston is still operational today, having been electricifed in the early 1960s, and sees regular passenger services as part of the Cathcart Circle Lines.


  • Butt, R. V. J. (1995). The Directory of Railway Stations. Patrick Stephens Ltd, Sparkford.
  • Keydens, Strang, Girvan et al (1883). "Barrmill and Kilwinning Railway Act, 1883", Geo. Kelly & Co, London.
  • Keydens, Strang, Girvan et al (1884). "Lanarkshire and Ayrshire Railway Act, 1884", Vaucher & Son, London.
  • McGhie, T. (2003). "The Lanarkshire and Ayrshire Railway Line", Neilston Railway, retrieved 15 October, 2006.
  • Stansfield, G. (1999). Ayrshire & Renfrewshire's Lost Railways, Stenlake Publishing, Catrine.
  • Wham, A. (1997). The Lost Railways of Ayrshire, G.C. Book Publishers, Wigtown.
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