PICTURE SPECIAL by JIM CROSTHWAITE
By Bill Heaney
It’s a treasure not many people living locally have heard much about and have seen even less.
Dumbarton Central Station’s beauty has been hidden away for many years – ever since the ticket office was moved upstairs on to the southbound platforms.
I remember when the main entrance was open and like many newspaper delivery boys of my era went there to collect the Times, News and Citizen off the train.
Town newsagents then included Donnie Gillies, Jeannie McFall, Birkmyre, Langlands, McKinney’s, Wallace’s, Dan McGrory’s, McCann’s and many more …
There was a busy parcel delivery business going on there too and a lift for taking the mail and the heavier stuff up to the platforms to be loaded or off-loaded from the Trains.
Dumbarton Central – Scottish Gaelic: Dùn Breatann Meadhain – is nowadays managed by Abellio ScotRail and owned by Network Rail.
It has a total of three platforms and has an annual rail passenger usage of around the three quarters of a million a year.
If every passenger spends a fiver each time they buy a ticket, then that is about £4 million a year.
Dumbarton Central railway station is on the West Highland Line and the North Clyde Line, 15 3⁄4 miles (25.3 km) northwest of Glasgow Queen Street.
The station was opened on July 15, 1850, by the Caledonian and Dumbartonshire Junction Railway on their route from Balloch Pier to Bowling, where travellers could join steamships on the River Clyde to get to Glasgow.
Connections with the Glasgow, Dumbarton and Helensburgh Railway at Dalreoch Junction and at Bowling put the station on a through route between Glasgow Queen Street and Helensburgh Central by 1858.
The company was subsequently absorbed by the Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway in 1862 and eventually became part of the North British Railway three years later.
However, in 1891, the North British was forced to come to an agreement with the rival Caledonian Railway to give the latter access to Balloch (and the Loch Lomond steamships) over C&DJR metals in order to prevent the building of a competing route by the Caledonian company.
This resulted in the Lanarkshire and Dumbartonshire Railway arriving from Possil via Maryhill Central in 1896.
Trains on the West Highland Railway also began serving the station following its completion on August 1, 1894, and these continue to call at Dumbarton to this day.
The station was built with two island platforms to permit convenient interchange between the various services that called, although only three faces remain in use (the former down loop on the southbound side having been removed).
The Helensburgh and Balloch lines were electrified by British Railways as part of the 1960 North Clyde Line electrification scheme, but most of the L&DR route was closed (other than the short section through neighbouring Dumbarton East) when passenger services to Possil via Dalmuir Riverside were withdrawn on 5 October 1964 as a result of the Beeching Axe.
Dumbarton Central is a category A listed building under the Town and Country Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.
Its services run on the North Clyde Line/Argyle Line. On Mondays-Saturdays, six trains per hour go southeastbound to Glasgow Queen Street and beyond.
Two trains per hour are limited stop to Edinburgh, 2tph run to Springburn & Cumbernauld via Yoker and 2tph via Singer to Airdrie. Sunday services are via Singer to Edinburgh Waverley and via Yoker, alternating between Motherwell via Whifflet and Larkhall. Northwestbound services run twice-hourly each to Balloch and Helensburgh Central (the other 2tph terminate here). Picture by John Kelenfoldi
West Highland Line services to/from Glasgow Queen Street towards Oban (6 trains per day weekdays, 3 on Sundays) and to Fort William and Mallaig (3 per day weekdays, 1 or 2 on Sundays depending on the time of year) call at Dumbarton.
The Highland Sleeper service also calls in each direction daily (except Saturday nights southbound and Sunday mornings northbound), giving the station a direct link to/from London Euston via Edinburgh, Crewe and the West Coast Main Line.
Dumbarton couple Rose and Dave Harvie, who are interested in environmental and conservation projects, have taken a special interest in the station during the past few years and have held consultations at Dumbarton Library asking the local public what they would like to see happen to the station in the future.