Ghosts of Tooban Junction
You will find the “Ghosts of Tooban Junction” installation as you walk along on the looped walk around Inch Wildfowl Reserve. At the site, there will be a viewer that will show two trains at the station.
Tooban Junction A history by John McCarron
The L&LSR or Lough Swilly Railway as it was known, held a special place in the hearts of people in the northwest. The L&LSR railway began operations in 1860
Tooban Junction was opened as simply ‘Junction’ by the Londonderry & Lough Swilly Railway (LLSR) in October 1864. The station was located on the company’s 8¼ mile single track 5ft 3inch line between Londonderry Graving Dock and Farland Point (opened on 31 December 1863) at the point where the 6 miles-long Buncrana Branch (opened on September 6 1864) diverged from the main line.
As the line between Junction and Farland Point had been part of the original route opened in December 1863 it was initially considered to be part of the main line with the route to Buncrana being regarded as the branch. Within a very short time, however, this situation was reversed as the Buncrana line became much busier than the route to Farland Point. The original station at Tooban Junction was in an isolated spot. It existed only for the purpose of interchange. It consisted of a short platform to the east of the actual junction. On 17 April 1865, the company decided to work Farland Point branch by horses but this only persisted until 25 April 1865 when locomotive haulage resumed again.
In July 1866 the line between Junction and Farland Point was closed. Reopening was considered in 1867 but the plans came to nothing. Having no purpose following the closure of the line to Farland Point the station at Junction was closed. The track between Junction and Farland Point was finally lifted in 1877. Due to the closure of the Farland branch, the station at Burnfoot Junction was closed from 1868 to 1883.
In 1860 the Letterkenny Railway (LR) Company was first authorised to build an 18½ mile 3ft gauge line between Tooban Junction using the Farland branch as far as Burt Junction and from there to Letterkenny. The line was to be worked by the L&LSR and had originally been incorporated in 1860. After numerous financial problems (and six separate Acts) it finally opened on 3 June 1883 and the Junction station was reopened, initially as an interchange point between the 3ft and the 5ft 3inch lines. The L&LSR Company had realised that a change of gauge would be an inconvenience and they re-gauged the route between Buncrana and Graving Dock between 28 March 1885 and 30 March 1885. With the re-gauging of the line the platform at Junction took on its final form. Alterations were completed by April 1885. The system was expanded in July 1901 when an extension was opened between Buncrana and Carndonagh and in March 1903 when a line was opened between Letterkenny and Burtonpoint.
The opening of these lines created almost 100 miles of 3ft gauge track which was operated by the L&LSR. These two lines were the only ones built under the Railways (Ireland) Act of 1896. The station continued to act as an interchange point throughout its existence and had been renamed as Tooban Junction by 1910. The Irish War of Independence and the Partition of Ireland by 1922 along with increased competition from road transport badly affected the L&LSR. Decline began in 1935 with the withdrawal of all trains between Buncrana and Carndonagh and by 3 June 1940 passenger services had ceased to run on the Letterkenny line (although passengers could travel on goods trains). Buncrana trains had been very much reduced but saw an increase during the Second World War. However, they ended on 6 September 1948. Goods services continued to run to Letterkenny until August 8 1953 and to Buncrana on the same date, when the L&LSR ceased all its railway operations in favour of its own bus and road freight services instead.
Local artist and historian John McCarron from Buncrana created this work in 2023. John’s other work includes the “History Wall” at Swan Park in Buncrana, Suaimhneas (peace) in Gweedore and the Famine Memorial in Glasgow, Scotland. To view more of John’s work you can follow his Instagram Page here.
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