Callander and Oban Railway

The Callander and Oban Railway (C&OR) was the first railway through the west highlands of Scotland. It was built in stages (as much as finances allowed), starting in 1866 and finally completing in 1880. The first section (Callander – Glenoglehead) opened in June 1870 and was operated by the Caledonian Railway. This was followed by the construction of three more sections, despite financial difficulties and the need to pass numerous Acts of Parliament.

The Archives holds a glass slide collection which includes images of Strathyre railway station in the 1900s and steam locomotives at Callander station in the 1890s.

There is also a slide showing the station staff at Callander station about 1893.

Notes left with the slide reveal who some of the staff were:

“It includes Andrew Johnstone; Murdo McTaggart, porter, next to Donald A. Mackenzie, booking clerk. Mackenzie afterwards wrote several books on prehistoric Scotland. The man seated on the left is Duncan Campbell, head porter, grandfather of Alastair Campbell, Camp Place. The engine-driver is Robb, father of the late Helen Robb who lived in Gartlands. McGowan, the fireman, was killed when the engine passed under a bridge as he was trimming the coals on the tender.”

The railway line experienced many changes over the years, but it was badly hit during the late 1960s. In 1965, the line east of Crianlarich was to be closed as a result of the widespread government closures. It ended up closing earlier than planned due to a landslide in Glen Ogle. However, the section between Crianlarich and Oban is still in use today.

Many considered the Callander and Oban Railway to be one of the most scenic in Scotland. John Anderson, secretary of the Caledonian Railway company, is claimed to have described Glen Ogle as the “Khyber Pass of Scotland”. The stations would also have served an extremely important role in village life and have increased trade. The Stirling Journal reports “It will also be of great use in the transit of stock to the large towns of Scotland and England. The want of such means of transit, considering the large number sent down daily, has often been felt.” At the time of the line opening, wool would have been exported and coal, lime and general goods were imported to the towns.