page updated
15 October 2010

Carrickfergus Harbour Branch

Little is now visible of this line but the accessible remains were walked on 26 September 2010. Position names in the text match those used in the Google Earth file that is available. Coordinates in the text were recorded using a Garmin Colorado 300 unit. Garmin's Map Source application gives five figures of decimal rather than the six figures declared by Google Earth.

Historical Information & Timeline

This list is a collation of information published variously by Ralph Rawlinson (Bygone Lines Yahoo Group and others), in the Carrickfergus & District Historical Journal (volume 8 of 1995), and Stephen Johnson's Atlas & Gazeteer of the Railways of Ireland (published 1997).

12 April 1848Belfast and Ballymena Railway opened a single track branch from Carrickfergus Junction (Greenisland, 6m56c) to Carrickfergus. Initial service of five passenger trains each way each day but no goods trains.
15 May 1860Belfast & Ballymena Railway renamed Belfast and Northern Counties Railway.
1860Original Carrickfergus station replaced by a 'permanent' one. Station lost its alcohol licence at the same time.
1 October 1862Carrickfergus and Larne Railway opened from Carrickfergus Harbour Junction (9m10c) to Larne Harbour. 1860 Carrickfergus station closed and replaced by a new one.
September 1863Carrickfergus Junction to Carrickfergus Junction doubled.
1 January 1887Carrickfergus Harbour Junction Railway opened from Carrickfergus Harbour Branch Junction (9m10c). Branch quoted as 1 mile, 6 furlongs, 15 chains and 23 yards in length to the new West Pier, plus a further 2 furlongs 17 yards to the East Pier. Carrickfergus Harbour Junction Railway shown in street and town directories (1910) as managed by the Urban District Council.
1 January 1890Carrickfergus and Larne Railway amalgamated with the Belfast and Northern Counties Railway.
1895Present day Carrickfergus Station (9m45c) opened as replacement for the 1862 station which had burnt down.
190225" OS Map published describing the line as a Mineral Railway (i.e. one not carrying passenger traffic).
1 July 1903Belfast and Northern Counties Railway sold to Midland Railway and operated under the title of Midland Railway (Northern Counties Committee).
1 January 1923Midland Railway absorbed by the London Midland and Scottish Railway as a result of the Railways Act, 1921.
1 January 1948Northern Counties Committee placed under control of the Railway Executive of the British Transport Commission but not nationalised.
1948Carrickfergus Harbour Junction signal box replaced to facilitate connections with Courtauld's railway.
1 April 1949Northern Counties Committee nationalised and absorbed as part of the Ulster Transport Authority.
1957Line closed.
??Carrickfergus Junction station renamed Greenisland.

Carrickfergus has had a total of four different railway stations, on two different sites, which carried the name Carrickfergus. Other stations within the vicinity were Mount (Courtauld's Platform) (8m60c), Clipperstown (9m20c), Barn (10m03c), Downshire (10m38c) and Eden (11m03c).

Carrickfergus Harbour Junction

This Junction was close by the 9 mile post (counted from Belfast York Road), just to the east of the crossing of the Woodburn River. The junction site is no longer visible from the Harbour Branch as the still extant railway is hidden behind the trees and houses of present day Minorca Drive.

The pictures were taken at Photo Position 22 (coordinates N54.71749 W5.82361) at the cul-de-sac end of Minorca Drive

Carrickfergus Harbour Junction
Looking towards Belfast.
The 'Larne Line' is hidden by the fence
and trees on the right hand side of the picture.
Carrickfergus Harbour Junction
Looking towards the Harbour.
The line of route curved through the
houses on the right.

The signal box at Carrickfergus Harbour Junction still survives. I have included it on the Larne Line page.

The section from here to Windmill Hill was completely lost with the building of the Minorca Drive housing estate.

Windmill Hill

The line arrives here on a rising gradient and flattens out to a wider area. The site presumably had a windmill on it before the railway came. Photo Position 21 is at the northern end of the wide section and may well mark the station throat or the Minorca Sidings.

First & Second Station Site ?
Looking towards Belfast.
Houses now occupy the line of the railway.
First & Second Station Site ?
Looking towards the Harbour.
Site occupied by children's playground,
part inside and some outside stockade.

Someone with a sense of history has adorned the building with a mural commemorating past activities. These include the windmill, the salt works and the railway. It is said that the salt works here produced table salt.

Right hand end of mural
Railway Panel Enlarged

The text above the train on the railway panel reads: “I wish I was in Carrickfergus, Where the castle looks out to sea”.

The lower part , below the heading “Karikfarius-1690 : Carraig Fheargus” starts: “There is reference to the Salt works at Clipperstown c1870 in Carrickfergus Journal Volume 8 1995 p31. The Salt works had own sidings and the train ran through Windmill Hill to carry the salt from the mine.”.

The remaining text is not relevant to the railway. Salt mining (for rock salt) still continues at Kilroot. The article in the Journal is the one mentioned at the top of this page concerning the railways of Carrickfergus.

Windmill Hill

Moving to the southern end of the wide area Photo Position 20 we can see just how large the children's play area is.

First & Second Station Site ?
Looking towards Belfast.
The playground is prominent.
Falling Gradient
Looking towards the Harbour.

From here the railway route starts its descent to the Harbour.

Photo Position 19

There was clearly some sort of bridge here where the railway crossed over an east-west right of way. It is to the right (in the left hand picture).

Looking towards Belfast.
Looking towards the Harbour.
Probably the best kept section of
the surviving alignment.

The route beyond here to Irish Quarter is securely fenced and appears to be a 'no mans land', possibly owned by Translink as successor to the previous railway companies.

Irish Quarter

The 1902 25" OS map shows no evidence of any path or other right of way at this point. But, as is evident today in Photo Position 18 one now exists and the railway embankment has been breached behind the fence in the left hand picture.

Looking towards Belfast.

Looking towards the Harbour.

Tramway Bridge

The two-arch limestone bridge that crossed Irish Quarter South at Photo Position 17 is no more. It was quite low and double deck buses (and juggernauts) could not pass. After demolition a new part of Shore Road was constructed allowing through traffic to avoid the centre of Carrickfergus which became quieter. The new road also divorced the Castle from the town centre!

Tramway Bridge
Looking towards Belfast.
Tramway Bridge
Looking towards the Harbour.

Beyond here the railway line has completely disappeared and the land beyond the Shore Road has changed beyond recognition.

Harbour Approach

Photo Position 15
Looking towards Belfast.
The railway went from my position
and passed through the corner of Sainsburys.
Photo Position 14
Looking towards Belfast.
The railway went through the pick-up truck
passed to the left of the building.

Quayside Photo Position 13

Looking towards Belfast.
Very different from the days
of the railway.

Looking towards the Harbour entrance.
Beyond here is now the private domain
of Carrickfergus Boat Club