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Dungiven to Limavady line

In the 1850’s the main Belfast to Derry railway line was connected to the town of Limavady by a four miles long spur line from Limavady Junction to Limavady Station.



From the late 1850’s there had been numerous rumours of extending the Limavady line to Dungiven but it was the late 1870’s before that became a reality. 

Dungiven Station with engine called Co Down, summer 1944

The rapid growth of the flax industry meant there was an increasing demand from the producers to be able to export their produce out of the area, particularly to Belfast.

Obviously investors thought it to be an attractive business venture as £100,000 was raised from issuing 7,500 shares at £10 each and a grant of £25,000 was awarded by the Board of Works. In addition the Skinners Company made a donation of £20,000 because of the benefits to be realised in their estate in Dungiven. As a result the Limavady and Dungiven Railway Company saw their line open in July 1883. The Chairman of the Board was Samuel Martin Macrory, grandfather of Sir Patrick Macrory, Chairman of the Review Body on Local Government.




Engineers on the line failed to keep a close enough eye on the construction of Limavady Station as indicated by the opening day debacle. The first train carried many dignitaries from near and far to be greeted by a brass band on arrival. However, they had not bargained on the station platform being some inches higher than bottom of the carriage doors.  As a result the passengers had to dismount in an undignified manner unto the track from the other side of the train.




Another disaster!  On its first journey, in beautiful weather, the train was filled with those from the higher echelons of society. Because of the fine conditions they travelled in open carriages with the ladies attired in summer dresses. They had not bargained on the engine producing so much black soot which made a sorry mess of their finery.


Drumsurn Station House in early 1950's

The arrival of the railway changed Drumsurn nearly overnight from a completely rural area to a small village. Situated half way between Dungiven and Limavady, those building the railway line stayed in Drumsurn substantially increasing the population and bringing much needed revenue to the area.  The station house has been maintained in pristine condition to the present day and can by found in the heart of the village.


Investors were greatly disappointed by their returns – in fact there were none. The line was running at a loss and in 1907 the Limavady and Dungiven Railway Company sold out to the Northern Counties Committee (N.C.C.) for the sum total of £2,000. 



While the Limavady and Dungiven line was never profitable, the development of the internal combustion engine was the final nail in the coffin for it.  The arrival of the bus and the lorry removed any dependency on the train and in the mid 1930’s passenger services ended. The goods train continued until the early 1950’s but it was completely unviable and so ended a colourful and romantic mode of transport.


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