Portchullin – Its August 1974
It is a good time for the Three Degrees as they are at No 1 with When Will I see You Again and Carlisle United as they are at the top of the entire football league. It is also a great time for the Kyle Line; finally, after facing closure intermittently for twenty years (and with a closure notice pending for the last four), the line is granted a permanent reprieve by the then transport minister.
It was also a good time for two young boys; we were on a family holiday in the west coast of Scotland and instead of witnessing the swansong of this line, we were seeing the beginnings of its rejuvenation and in the process planting the seeds of this layout. In the early 1970’s the railways of the highlands had hardly changed since the 19th Century. Sure steam had gone and everything was in the BR corporate blue, but that was about it; the lines were still fully signalled, due to terrible competing roads there was still a healthy freight traffic, short loco hauled trains were the norm many of which were mixed, and the lines remained single so there was the adventure of regular passing procedures.
Young boys grow up and one at least carries the passion for the trains of the west coast of Scotland. Whilst the early seventies era is not my first choice interest and I can hardly claim to be a major producer of layouts, when the Scalefour Society announced a competition to build a diesel or electric era layout these characteristics proved irresistible.
Portchullin is a real place and is right next to the Kyle Line as it runs along the edge of Loch Carron but it now only has a couple of houses; however, historically there was a bigger community and it could also have served a series of small villages inland from the loch. It does not take too much history rewriting to make it sufficiently important to merit a station. All I have done is move another station, Stromeferry which is in reality only a mile away, sufficiently far to justify a separate station at Portchullin to serve these communities – the excuse for a layout is born!
So that’s the rationale for Portchullin, an imaginary station but very much based on the real examples on the line – I hope it will “feel” like the former Highland Railway’s route to the west and that many of you can recognise some of your youth in it!