Portessie railway station

Portessie railway station[3][4] was a joint Highland Railway (HR) and Great North of Scotland Railway (GNoSR) station at the junction between the Moray Coast Railway and the Buckie and Portessie Branch which also served the small fishing village of Portessie, in the parish of Rathven, Scottish county of Moray.

Dismantled Railway, Strathlene - geograph.org.uk - 279685.jpg
The course of the old Portessie GNoSR station
LocationPortessie, Moray
Coordinates57°41′11″N 2°55′48″W / 57.686314°N 2.930036°W / 57.686314; -2.930036Coordinates: 57°41′11″N 2°55′48″W / 57.686314°N 2.930036°W / 57.686314; -2.930036
Grid referenceNJ 4464 6665
Other information
Original companyHighland Railway
Pre-groupingHighland Railway
Post-groupingLondon, Midland and Scottish Railway
Key dates
1 August 1884[1]Station opens as 'Portessie'
1 May 1886[1]Portessie station and junction opened with the opening of the Moray Coast Railway.
9 August 1915[1]The Highland Station closed to passengers
1 April 1944[2]Highland line closed to goods traffic
6 May 1968[1]Station closes to passenger and goods traffic

The HR station's platform was served by trains on the Buckie and Portessie Branch north of Keith until 1915 and remained open for freight from Buckie station until April 1944.[5] The GNoSR station remained open until 6 May 1968 when it closed for both passenger and goods traffic.[1]


The Highland RailwayEdit

The station was opened by the Highland Railway in 1884 to serve the village of Portessie and had a short life with services being suspended during World War I on 9 August 1915[6] and the rails south of Buckie removed as far as Aultmore, although it was the intention to reinstate the track and restart services when the war ended. The central section of the line was still without track in 1923,[7] when the Highland Railway was absorbed by the London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS). After this amalgamation the track between Buckie and Aultmore was relaid, however services were not restarted and the track removed again[8] in around 1937.[9]

The separated stub from Buckie to Portessie survived until 1944 in isolation from the rest of the, by then, London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS) system.

Work had begun on the Keith to Portessie line of the Highland Railway on 7 November 1882. Wartime economies led to closure of the line on 9 August 1915 and in 1917 the track between Aultmore (towards Keith) and Portessie was requisitioned by the Admiralty.[10] The north and south sections of line were re-opened by 1919, but the Aultomore to Buckie section (passing through Drybridge, Enzie and Rathven) was never re-opened and the track was again lifted circa 1937.[10]

The construction of the GNoSR Moray coast route had "effectively doomed the Highland route. Westbound journeys were shorter via the GNSR, and although the route to Aberdeen was longer, the Moray Coast Railway had services that were faster, more frequent and more convenient, with through trains running from Elgin, along the coast and to Aberdeen. As a rather straggly branch line, the Highland route struggled to compete, and the population between Buckie and Keith was too sparse to provide much additional traffic."[5]

Buckie and
Portessie Branch
(Highland Railway)
Portessie Junction
Drybridge Platform
Keith West Junction
Keith Junction
Keith East Junction

The Great North of Scotland RailwayEdit

In 1881 the Great North of Scotland Railway put a bill to parliament to extend its Portsoy line along the Moray Firth as far as Buckie.[11] In 1882 the Great North of Scotland applied for permission to build a 25+14-mile (40.6 km) line from Portsoy following the coast to Buckie and then running on to Elgin.

In 1923 the Great North of Scotland Railway was absorbed by the London and North Eastern Railway and this company was nationalised in 1948, and services provided by British Railways. The station and line was recommended for closure by Dr Beeching's in his report "The Reshaping of British Railways"[12] and closed on 6 May 1968.[13][14]

The station was host to a LNER camping coach in 1935 and 1936 and possibly one for some of 1934, there were two coaches here from 1937 to 1939.[15] A camping coach was also positioned here by the Scottish Region from 1952 to 1963.[16]

The GNoSR station was served by through trains running between Aberdeen and Elgin.[17] There were no Sunday services.[18]

Joint station InfrastructureEdit

The HighlandEdit

The station had an island platform with a station building that it shared with the GNoSR.[19] The HR had a two bay engine shed, a water tower, a turntable and two exchange sidings. A signal box was originally located on the island platform and a run round or passing loop was present.[20][4] Following the cessation of passenger services the signal box was closed and one bay was removed from the engine shed. The two lines ran parallel for a short distance before entering the station.[21]

The station was designed by Murdoch Paterson who also designed the station itself.[22][23]

The Great North of ScotlandEdit

The GNoSR station had two platforms and as stated it shared an island platform with the Highland Railways branch to Keith. The station had a passing loop, a signal box, a wooden station building, a loading bank with two sidings and a London and North Eastern Railway style pedestrian overbridge.[20][24]

The site todayEdit

In 2012 the platforms could still be seen, the trackbed was overgrown and partly infilled. The turntable pit associated with the Highland Railway shed also remained as did the base of the old water tower.[25][26] The Buckie and Portessie Branch once ran westwards from Portessie, remaining on top of the cliff, passing the Pot O' Linn, skirting the rear of Cliff Terrace and crossing Harbour Street then swinging south and following the curve of Mill Crescent to stop at Buckie 'Highland' station.

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ a b c d e Butt 1995, p. 189.
  2. ^ RailScot
  3. ^ RCAHMS Site Record
  4. ^ a b Banffshire Sheet II.SW. Publication date: 1905. Date revised: 1902.
  5. ^ a b Long Lost Railways Accessed : 2015-01-23
  6. ^ Butt 1995, p. 83.
  7. ^ Vallance & Clinker 1971, p. 39.
  8. ^ Vallance & Clinker 1971, pp. 174–175.
  9. ^ Geograph
  10. ^ a b Historic Environment Scotland & LB50114.
  11. ^ Barclay-Harvey 1950, pp. 92–93.
  12. ^ Beeching 1963a, p. 125
    Beeching 1963b, map 9
  13. ^ Butt 1995, p. 47.
  14. ^ Maxtone 2005, p. 3.
  15. ^ McRae 1997, p. 11.
  16. ^ McRae 1998, p. 28.
  17. ^ Vallance 1991, p. 95.
  18. ^ "Passenger Timetable: Scottish Region". British Railways. May 1948. Table 150. Archived from the original on 26 February 2012. Retrieved 20 June 2013.
  19. ^ Maxtone 2005, p. 35.
  20. ^ a b Maxtone 2005, p. 30.
  21. ^ Banffshire Sheet II.SW Probable Publication date: ca. 1949. Date revised: 1938
  22. ^ RCAHMS site record
  23. ^ Scottish Architects
  24. ^ Maxtone 2005, p. 31.
  25. ^ Maxtone 2005, p. 32.
  26. ^ RailScot


Preceding station Historical railways Following station
Buckie   Highland
Buckie   Great North of Scotland   Findochty