The Dingwall and Skye Railway reached Strathcarron in 1870 and the original terminus of the line was at Stromeferry, a few miles further along the shores of Loch Carron. In 1897, after delays caused by both financial and construction difficulties, the line was extended through to its current terminus at Kyle of Lochalsh, from where ferries crossed the narrow stretch of water to Skye and plied the Minch to the Outer Hebrides.
Strathcarron served a wide area for passengers, freight and mails and would have been a busy station in its heyday. Photos from as recently as the early 1970’s show parcels and freight being loaded and unloaded at the two platforms – Strathcarron is one of only three places where trains can pass each other on the single track between Dingwall and Kyle.
(Image c. Geoffrey Skelsey)
The station master had his own flat above the ticket office and would have been a busy man, supervising all aspects of the station. At the end of the day, he would have been grateful to return to the tranquility of his apartment with its view of the surrounding hills and the burn bubbling over the rocks. Now you can experience what it would have felt like for yourself!
The Kyle line has been threatened with closure several times over the years, most especially in 1973 when the ferry was transferred from Kyle to Ullapool and closure notices were posted. A vigorous campaign led to a reprieve and for a while in the mid 1970’s the oil rig construction yard at Kishorn kept the line busy with materials being brought in by rail to Stromeferry. However, by the 1980’s, freight traffic had dwindled, signalling was removed with all trains being controlled by radio from Inverness and Strathcarron station, like most along the line, became unstaffed.
Strathcarron station building has been used over the years as the local Post Office, a craft centre, shop and in the early 2000’s a new extension was added to house an IT centre. The upstairs flat has for many years been let to private tenants but the whole building was in a state of some disrepair when it was bought by the current owners in spring 2016. A total renovation of the property was undertaken – the Station Master’s accommodation was completed first, followed by the former ticket office which has become a two-bedroom disabled-friendly apartment with all of its period and railway features retained and enhanced, while the modern building has become a light and spacious one-bedroom property.
We always knew we had the original point levers that used to control the passing loop (which allows trains to pass each other at the station), but during excavation work for the new damp proof course and floor downstairs, our contractor came across the operating rods and weights too. When the station became un-manned in the 1980's, these levers would have been disconnected as the points are now operated by the trains themselves. We just had time to grab a picture of the metalwork before it got buried under polythene, ten tons of sand and a new floor! The levers have been preserved and enhanced and provide an interesting historical feature in what is now the kitchen/diner in the Ticket Office apartment.