Oban

Location type

Station

Name and dates

Oban (1880-)

Station code: OBN National Rail ScotRail
Where: Argyll and Bute, Scotland
Opened on the Callander and Oban Railway.
Open on the West Highland Line.

Description

This is a terminus at a ferry pier on Oban Bay. Oban is a major port for the islands with Caledonian MacBrayne operating services to Mull, Lismore and beyond.

The present station has a small ticket office and two platforms and is located a short distance from the ferry terminal. There are good passenger facilities at the ferry terminal which has been rebuilt in recent years.

There are some seldom used sidings. Oil for Caledonian MacBrayne vessels was handled here until recent years and a timber siding put in, which is no longer in use.

The two platforms were a later addition to the original terminus during an expansion of 1904 for the opening of the Ballachulish Branch (Callander and Oban Railway).


Opening

The original station and pier opened in June of 1880, the line having been extended 25 miles westwards from Dalmally. Now, finally, the Callander and Oban Railway had reached the destination intended from its inception: the western seaboard of Scotland. The new terminus on a new pier would be the interchange between the south and vessels to the islands and the fishing fleet. Before reaching Oban the line was essentially a long country branch line with a link by road to the coast.

There was a glazed trainshed 270ft long covering the platforms ends and circulating area. The station entrance, on Station Road, was a wooden building wrapped round two sides of the station and was topped with a clocktower in French style which was clearly seen from the sea. The trainshed was metal framed, glazed and with wooden side screens and arts-and-crafts detailling. Obviously aware of the weather there was an end-screen at the far end of the shed.

Within the station the generous circulating area had a bookstall and, off to the side, a refreshment room. One side of the island platform had a goods/locomotive release road/carriage siding and the other, on the north side, had a platform on either side, ideal for large numbers of passengers. There were thus three platforms, although two served the same single track.

The station was built on reclaimed land which formed a pier with the railway quay at its west end, on the north side of the lines, and supported the the goods and shed.

The approach from Oban signal box was tightly curved for the passenger station, less so for the goods.

At the station throat, by Alma Crescent Road, was the station signal box. The first of these, opened in 1880, was on a plinth to the south of the bridge and on the east side of the line (the plinth is still there).

Railway staff accommodation was provided in Alma Crescent Road.

There was consideration of a tramway between the station and the Oban North Pier (or Town Pier), however this did not arise.

Unlike other railway piers there was no need of a 'packet' company to operate steamers from Oban, a large number of steamers already served the town and the existing companies were to adjust their services.

By offering competitive rates considerable fish traffic was to be attracted, even from as far away as Stornoway.

Oban was advertised as 'The Charing Cross of the Highlands' by the Caledonian Railway.


Re-building

For the opening of the Ballachulish Branch (Callander and Oban Railway) two new platforms were added on the north side of Oban station. Extra land had to be reclaimed for this and the goods sidings and quayside line were extended. The pier now had a more regular low curved shape.

The new platforms were fitted with a 'scissors' to allow locomotive release from either platform.

The signal box was replaced with a larger building which was on the north side of the bridge and west side of the line.


Reduction

With the closure of Oban Goods Junction signal box in 1969 platform 1 at the station fell out of passenger use.

The box closed in 1982 but remained standing. The line under the trainshed was to be removed and the remaining two platforms reduced to one as the one line became dedicated solely to locomotive release. At least with use of the new platforms the curve into the station is easier than the original entry.

A new small station building, with little waiting room provision, was built in 1986 to replace the original station. The station building, clocktower and trainshed were demolished in 1987. The loss is still noted.

Both platforms are now in use for passenger trains.

Despite several rationalisations of the pier goods yard some sidings remain, although currently out of use.

In recent years the North Pier has ceased to be the main ferry terminal with Caledonian MacBrayne now based at the station pier, Oban Station Pier.

The pier is less so the railway pier today with the railway carving its way between new buildings and car parks to reach the platforms.

Local

Caledonian MacBrayne operates from the station pier to a considerable number of destinations.

Oban Distillery

McCaig's Tower

Staffa Tours

Oban Harbour

Tags

Station Terminus Ferry Oil Depot Goods scenic

External links

Canmore site record
NLS Collection OS map of 1892-1914
NLS Collection OS map of 1944-67




Dates

  /  /1870Callander and Oban Railway
Authorisation of Tyndrum to Oban abandoned.
  /  /1874Callander and Oban Railway
Tyndrum to Oban, and a branch to Oban Harbour, authorised.
  /  /1878Callander and Oban Railway
New approach to Oban Bay with a seawall and Oban Pier and Oban station authorised. The planned branch to Oban Harbour is abandoned.
  /  /1880Callander and Oban Railway
Dalmally Shed ceases to be a key shed when the line to Oban opens completely.
12/06/1880Callander and Oban Railway
Line opened from Dalmally to Oban for goods.
30/06/1880Callander and Oban Railway
Opening ceremony for whole Callander Dreadnought to Oban line. Banquet in Oban station.
01/07/1880Callander and Oban Railway
Line opened from Dalmally to Oban for passengers. The whole line is now open to passengers. Additionally Lochavullin Goods (Oban High Level Goods) opens.
  /  /1897Callander and Oban Railway
Expansion of Oban and Oban Pier authorised in connection with the opening of the Ballachulish Branch (Callander and Oban Railway). Alterations to sea wall authorised.
  /  /1902Ballachulish Branch (Callander and Oban Railway)
Extension of time for land purchase for the line and at Oban.
04/03/1903Callander and Oban Railway
Oban station enlargement authorised.
24/08/1903Ballachulish Branch (Callander and Oban Railway)
Line opened to passengers and goods. Stations opened at Benderloch, Creagan, Appin, Duror, Kentallen, Ballachulish Ferry, Ballachulish. For the opening Connel Ferry and Oban stations were rebuilt. Two large bridges were required Connel Ferry Bridge and Creagan Viaduct.
23/05/1949West Highland Railway
Passenger services between Glasgow Queen Street High Level, Crianlarich and Oban start.

Books


A Regional History of the Railways of Great Britain: The North of Scotland v. 15 (Regional railway history series)

Birth and Death of a Highland Railway: Ballachulish Line

Caledonian Railway

Caledonian Routes 3: Stirling to Crianlarich - DVD - Oakwood Press

Callander & Oban Railway Through Time

Callander and Oban Railway (Library of Railway History)

History of the Railways of the Scottish Highlands: Callander and Oban Railway v. 4

History of the Railways of the Scottish Highlands: Callander and Oban Railway v. 4

Iron Road to the Isles: A Travellers and Tourist Guide to the West Highland Lines

Iron Roads to the Isles: A Travellers and Tourists Souvenir Guide to the West Highland Lines

Oban 1898: Argyllshire Sheet 98.07 (Old Ordnance Survey Maps of Argyllshire)

On West Highland Lines

Railway World Special: West Highland Lines

Scottish Central Railway (Oakwood Library of Railway History)

The Birth and Death of a Highland Railway: Ballachulish Line

The Caledonian, Scotland's Imperial Railway: A History

Trossachs and West Highlands: Exploring the Lost Railways (Local History Series)

Walks from the West Highland Railway (Cicerone Guide)