The Carriage History

History of the Station & Carriage

Rescuing a tired old milk carriage

Our story begins in 2010; we were travelling back from a caravan show in Hull.  Passing Eden Valley Railway on the way home we decided to pop in for a look.  On site was a dilapidated looking carriage which was for sale.  It was love at first sight and as we already had a Railway Station we thought it would be a great addition.  Jim did the negotiating and before we arrived home the carriage and some railway line and sleepers were ours.  We were not sure what we could use it for and how we were going to get it from Cumbria to Appin but in for a penny in for an awful lot of pounds!

The Carriage is a Siphon G, originally used to transport milk on the GWR Line. It is 50 foot long and 9 foot wide so expert help was required to get it to site and this was provided by Reid Freight who advised that, yes they could deliver anything.   Our site has a tight access road and the lorry with carriage was going to have to negotiate some very small and bendy highland roads.   The worry of it falling off and crushing cars or people, getting stuck on the road, hitting a bridge, trees or houses was just too stressful.  It was at this point that I decided to take myself and our two boys on holiday!!  Leaving Jim to deal with the delivery...

Two weeks later, on our return, the track and carriage were in place and everything had gone to plan. The lorry managed to get onto site easily, reversed into position and a digger had given the carriage a gentle nudge and it had glided onto the rails as if it was always meant to be there.  

Given that it was in poor condition when we purchased it, there was no surprise that most of the wood was rotten and beyond repair. The one thing we did want to save was the beautiful curved roof and luckily with a lot of hard work we managed.  Once the roof was protected, both the sides and ends of the carriage were removed and it sat like a forlorn skeleton for the next 18 months. 

In 2012 we put in for Planning permission thinking it would be plain sailing as we were on a brown site.  This was not the case as an objection was lodged by SUSTRANS on the basis that they wanted to put a cycle track along the railway line directly through the middle of our holiday park.  Cue 2 years of wrangling as we negotiated an alternative route for the cycle route to pass our land.

Carriage interior

Carriage Interior

Carriage Transformation

By the time this had been concluded and we had saved up some money the shell was rebuilt in 2015 and new windows and doors were fitted to make it wind and watertight.  During this period I had been diagnosed with cancer so other things became a priority. Jim decided to turn it into his shed.

It was not until 2020 that our attention again turned to the carriage until Covid put a stop to our plans.  By 2021 I had a clear idea about how I wanted the interior to look so I drew it on a bit of paper as you do, and called on one of the builders in the area to come have a look.  He scratched his head as I stood there saying “look Ian this is what I want, kitchen here, bathroom there blah blah blah -its all in my head” to which he replied “that’s all well and good Julie but I can’t see into your head” thankfully he is a carpenter to trade and loves recycling and reusing wood and with that bit of paper and my head we managed to create what has become the Carriage at Creagan.

Work started proper in 2022.  First job was to sandblast the ceiling interior which is made of original pitched pine wood but had been painted with many layers of paint over the 90 years it has been in use.  The interior was then lined and frames and partitions built.  Fixtures and fittings sourced – many hours spent on the internet – first fit electrics, plumbing, many hours stripping, varnishing or painting wood, Oil central heating fitted, floors laid etc etc.


Here are some points of interest:

  • The GWR sign was painted by a local artist Andy Greatrix you can find his work at Port Appin Craft shop.
  • The cladding used in the bedroom was the original cladding from inside Creagan Station.  It had lain stored under a lodge since its renovation in 1996, at about 120 years old some was rotten but the rest covered in a layer of filth was cleaned by myself. The colour is the original and as I wanted a distressed look it has just had 3 layers of varnish. It matches Farrow and Balls Pigeon perfectly so the rest of the walls were primed and painted with this.
  • The bed alcove was designed to be a cosy nook to snuggle up in. Our motorhome has a similar bed and we sleep better in that than we do in our own expensive one at home.  It was handmade by Ian.
  • The circular ceiling lights were sourced from the Netherlands as they fitted onto the original wooden disks perfectly.
  • Don’t talk to Ian about the bathroom unit!  As usual I drew a picture told him I wanted it made out of old scaffolding boards and he made me the gorgeous unit with some head scratching.
  • As we live in an area of Outstanding natural beauty and our loch is a protected marine environment a hot tub was out as the chemicals added would eventually drain down into Loch Creran.  The outside bath area was created instead and it feels fab sitting in a bubble bath looking at the stars.

We do hope you enjoy staying in the carriage.  Many thanks to Ian Cargill who helped me create my vision, Jim, Callum and Ewan for their valuable input and the various tradesmen who helped along the way.

        Julie Weir – officially exhausted x

 

Gallery of Railway Carriage & Conversion


 

Station and Railway Line History

The station stands on the old Connel to Ballachulish branch line of the Callander - Oban Railway. The single-track line was officially opened in August 1903 to serve the local communities, the slate quarries to the north at Ballachulish and a rapidly expanding tourist trade.

It was considered to be one of the most imposing branch lines in the UK, particularly at Creagan where it skirted the shores of Loch Creran.  The Transport Act of 1962 and the closures imposed by Dr Beeching, Chairman of the Transport Commission and subsequently known as ‘The Railway Axe Man’ saw the line, along with many others, closed and the tracks ripped up with unseemly haste, before anyone should have second thoughts. 

Station buildings were abandoned, derelict and overgrown as was Creagan until 1997 when we restored it to its former glory. The station was one of the ‘island’ type with tracks running north and south on either side and accessed by a tunnel and stairs leading onto the platform. The track north still affords a pleasant walk for some distance with views of the loch and some ideal picnic spots.

 

Old Station
Old Creagan Railway Bridge and Transport Act 1962 Flyer