The design of Blanefield Station was that of an island type and provided the first opportunity for trains to cross after leaving Lennoxtown. The Station building was of wooden construction in the centre of the platform and access was by means of a footbridge located next to the signal box, which also controlled the level crossing. The Station had quite extensive goods facilities on the north side of the line. This included an end loading facility, goods shed and a hand crane of unknown capacity.
At the east end of the goods yard a loop line was built which entered a private siding. This was opened on the 13th February 1877 and led into the Blanefield Printworks.The Printwork owners , the Coubroughs, paid for this. They had been very active members of the Blane Valley Railway Company , which was formed to promote the line ,and were no doubt keen to make use of the benefits that a rail link would provide for them in terms of transporting goods etc. An additional siding was laid during July 1899 and at the same time a transfer siding was installed. As the printworks had closed in November 1898 it can only be presumed that these sidings were erected to assist in the demolition of the Printworks , which was not completed until 1910.
The closure of the Printworks in 1898 would have had an effect on the amount of freight carried by the railway and possibly the number of passengers. The population of the parish had fallen by almost 50% after the closure of the printworks and this in turn no doubt affected passenger numbers Competition from buses in terms of cheaper and faster travel further added to the decline in passenger travel. In response to this in the 1930's trains began to terminate at Blanefield and the remaining passengers for stations beyond transferring to the Sentinel Steam car.
The above picture was taken in September 1909 and as well as showing the people waiting for the arrival of King Edward VII it shows the sidings that led in to the now defunct Printworks. As well as this one of the sheds is visible. Blanefield Station in common with Strathblane Station was burnt down in the early 1960's. Apart from the Station House which is now a private house , there is very little left to be seen. On close inspection the remains of one of the sidings can still be found today
Tourism and the Blane Valley Line
The Blane Valley line was the first tourist route to exploit the beauty of the Campsie Fells and Blane Valley. Initially the line was extended from Lennoxtown out through Campsie Glen, Strathblane and Blanefield. Due to lack of funds the line was terminated at Dumgoyne. It later joined up with the Strathendrick & Aberfoyle Railway on the 1st October, 1882. The original proposal was to continue the line to Aberfoyle and from there to Inversnaid on Loch Lomond. This did not happen due to objections from the Duke of Montrose. However, Aberfoyle and the Trossachs were reached due to the railway being able to join and subsequently utilise a section of the Forth & Clyde Junction Railway from Gartness to Buchlyvie and then on to Aberfoyle.
The above picture shows Blanefield Station from the south showing the Printworks in the background.
Danger on the Railway
There was a darker side to the Railway and there were several fatalities some of them possibly suicides. The Stirling Observer reported one incident which occurred at Blanefield Station in September 1919 when one Owen O'Toole (19) an Irish potato digger died in Glasgow Royal Infirmary as a result of injuries sustained at Blanefield Railway Station earlier in the week. O'Toole had arrived at the station alone with a number of others and they were engaged in carrying tools and luggage across the railway line from one platform to the other. While doing this O'Toole failed to observe the approach of a train and was knocked down and severely injured and later died in hospital. As Blanefield was the first station on the line where a train could turn it is likely that O'Toole was knocked down by the train he had just got off!
The Stirling Observer writing in the 1890's during the construction of the Second Water Tunnel recounted an incident when one of the navvies living in the Huts on the Football Field managed to be run over by a train when the worse for drink. He survived with a broken arm! The Stirling Observer also recorded a number of incidents when a body was found by the railway line. It is thought that these were suicide attempts.
Another fatality involved Alexander Kenny from Kilsyth, a 24 year old miner who was killed on the first of June 1896 after falling from a train near the station.
The above picture shows a train coming through the level crossing at Blanefield Station. The white building is the Cuilt Farm. ( Photo courtesy G Philips)
Locomotives on the Line
The following locomotives served the line. After completion the Wheatley Class E (J86) 06OST No.228 became the regular branch engine. By the late 1890's this engine had been replaced by Drummond Class R (D51) 44) Tís. Throughout the North British Railway era and through to the early 1930's, regular through passenger services from Glasgow were the norm and were worked by Eastfield locomotives. In the 1930's the general pattern became one of using Eastfield locomotive hauled services to and from Blanefield with passengers travelling on to Aberfoyle transferred to the Sentinel Railcar 312 "Retaliator".
D11/2 , D30 and D34 classes were used on the line right through to the final years of passenger operation.
During major holidays such as the "Glasgow Fair" traffic could be extensive on the line. Eight coach bogie sets were often used , particularly on what was known as "Fair Saturday". It would travel through to Aberfoyle on the Saturday and return on the Monday.
Traffic on the Line
From the outset the North British Line was quick to advertise the line as a route to the Trossachs, particularly for Glaswegians. This was in competition with the Caledonian route via Callander. Motor coaches ran to and from Aberfoyle station in connection with certain trains up to 1939. The route , however , never quite matched the rival Caledonian line.
Initially , the route was as follows. Passengers departing from Glasgow travelled up the Aberfoyle line to the Trossachs terminal, then took the road route to Loch Katrine where the waiting steamer ferried them to Stronachlacher , where another road route conveyed them to Inversnaid on Loch Lomond. The trip back to Glasgow was then undertaken via Balloch by steamer and rail. Edinburgh tourists were meanwhile conveyed by railway to Buchlyvie via the Forth & Clyde Junction railway , where they joined the Glasgow train on its route to Aberfoyle.
By the mid 1930's the weekday through trains were cut back and the majority of passenger services terminated at Blanefield , which acted as a change over platform for the steam railcar operated Aberfoyle shuttle service.
In 1950 the summer timetable consisted of :
Kirkintilloch 12 daily services each way , Lennoxtown 7 , Blanefield 5 and Aberfoyle 3.
This clearly indicated the light nature of the traffic in the rural area north of Blanefield. On the 1st October 1951 the Aberfoyle - Kirkintilloch section was closed to passengers thus ending the service to Strathblane & Blanefield. On the 3rd October 1959 the Forth & Clyde Junction line closed to freight. Two days later on the 5th October, 1959 the Aberfoyle - Campsie Glen section closed to freight thus closing the train service to the parish. The original Campsie branch to Kirkintilloch lost its passenger service in 1964. The entire line from Lenzie was axed on the 4th April , 1966 when freight services to Lennoxtown ended.
The Signal Box and Level Crossing Blanefield Station - the island Station can be seen just in the background.
©Alison Dryden, Strathblane Heritage Society 2004