. Craigcorrie & Dunalistair Railway .

Craigcorrie & Dunalistair 1

Craigcorrie & Dunalistair 2

Craigcorrie & Dunalistair 3

Craigcorrie & Dunalistair 4

Craigcorrie & Dunalistair 5

Craigcorrie & Dunalistair Railway - Ted Polet

The Craigcorrie & Dunalistair Railway (CDR) is a fictitious narrow gauge railway situated in the Western Highlands of Scotland.

According to history the CDR, with a track gauge of 2' 3", was built in 1870 to carry coal from Inverlochan to the sea at Dunalistair. Over the years the CDR evolved into a common carrier, opening up the region and causing various industries to develop. For example, at Lochty, near Rae Bridge, a local distillery grew into a major employer, whilst at Craigcorrie some wool industry developed, and at Dunalistair there is the Caledonia Foundry, catering for heavy repairs of the colliery, the railway and shipbuilding.

The CDR line runs along the Rae valley, climbing through Glenclachan towards Inverlochan Moor, a boggy wilderness at 1,000 ft above sea level. The line incorporates features from several Scottish prototypes both narrow and standard gauge. Thus, the coal-carrying theme stems from the Campbeltown & Machrihanish Railway and the scenic terrain was borrowed from the West Highland line.

The model railway:
The CDR started from humble beginnings back in 1969 and has grown to its present size by adding layout sections over the years. From the beginning ordinary N gauge track was used. The idea to go British resulted from a visit to the Festiniog Railway in 1968 and from reading 1960s narrow gauge modelling articles by pioneers like PD Hancock, GR Hanan and the late David Lloyd.

The present-day CDR is a typical home layout occupying an attic room measuring about 3 x 2.4 metres. The layout is set up around the walls of the room, leaving a central operating well with a lifting section across the doorway. There is a multiple return loop staging area elsewhere in the attic. The climb from sea level to the summit at Inverlochan is represented by a thirty-yard main line which loops around the room several times, gaining about 35cms in altitude. The main stations of Dunalistair, Rae Bridge and Inverlochan are represented, together with some intermediate scenes at Lochty Junction, which still has to be developed scenically, and the wild Glenclachan Gorge and the summit area of Inverlochan Moor which are complete. The latter area is built as a second layout level right above the sea level terminus of Dunalistair. From Lochty a branch line disappears behind the backscene. At present this terminates in two stub sidings awaiting further development. The CDR is operated to a sequence table and goods working is enhanced by a system of waybills once developed by the late John Allen of California, involving markers placed on each goods vehicle.

Dunalistair represents about a quarter of the total area of the layout, being the only part which is more or less portable although originally not designed for exhibition use. Dunalistair was shown at Expo-NG, Swanley, in October 1997. In recent years several articles describing the CDR and its locomotives and stock have appeared in the Railway Modeller magazine and the 009 News.

Rolling stock:
For many years ordinary N gauge loco mechanisms and rolling stock were used as a basis, because in the early days there were few British outline narrow gauge models on the market and all locos and stock had to be made from scratch or by kit conversion.

Many models are slightly larger than present-day 009 standards, because thirty years ago the CDR standard was determined by slightly cut down H0 and 00 standard gauge bodies on N gauge chassis. This is however comparable to the Campbeltown, the Leek & Manifold and various Colonial railways. Many (though not all) of the models are of freelance origin, each however having a carefully planned design to prevent the occurrence of unlikely monsters.

The locos and stock span a period roughly extending from 1870 to 1935. Over the years about 25 locomotives and over 100 items of rolling stock were built, which are far too many to use on the layout at the same time. Recently therefore the stock was split into two batches, one representing the 1880 era, and another more reminiscent of 1930.

Published by
Chris MacKenzie for the
Virtual Narrow Gauge Model Railway Exhibition
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