RICCARTON JUNCTION - THE STATION TODAY
From our wander around the village we can now go down onto the site of the station for a look around.
To give you a clue as to where you are and what you are looking at, against each photo I'll be putting two links. One will link to an Ordnance Survey map where it is appropriate to do so. If you click on the link, the map will open in a new window and you'll see the spot from where the picture was taken and in which direction you'll be looking. The second will link to an ancient photo where one is available, and show you what you might have seen when there was something worth seeing.
The hill to the right of the image is of course Arnton Fell, which dominates the area for a considerable distance. The track which runs from the centre of the image and across to the right is the trackbed of the Waverley Route approaching Riccarton Junction from the south. The closest track, passing just behind the isolated bushy tree, is the trackbed of the main line as it approaches the railway station. The track behind is the line that went into the sidings and over into the engine shed.
Just above the copyright logo and to the left of the puddle in the centre of the image is a line of bushes. Behind these bushes is the trackbed of the old Border Counties Line to Hexham, which joined the Waverley Route almost exactly where the puddle is. It was the closure of the Border Counties Line (to passengers on 15 October 1956 and to goods on 1st September 1958) that led to the demise of the village.
The open fell at the foot of the afforested Arnton Fell has an interesting story behind it. it was mentioned to me that at the time the Forestry Commission was planting here, one of the residents at the School House was keeping goats. Goats have a certain attraction for young trees as we know and the Forestry Commission became somewhat concerned over the damage that was being caused. So much so, in fact, that a rumour has it that the Forestry Commission is said to have made some kind of pact with the local hunters, the details of which can best be imagined.
This led to the owner of the goats becoming somewhat concerned over the depletions to his herd, and something of a stand-off ensued. This was settled by the Forestry Commission agreeing to fence off a field for the exclusive use of the goats, provided that their owner kept them off the plantations.
These pages are full of rumour and gossip, and these items are recorded just as I have been told them. Some have already been verified, others are capable of verification and indeed will be so verified at the next available opportunity, whereas others are simply some kind of local folklore. Nevertheless,they ought to be recorded, even if only for the record, and I would be grateful for any kind of feedback. Please if you think you can add anything to these web pages.
From the same viewpoint as above but looking south-west, the station site can be seen. The brick building is the former generator house which for a while was the home of the ill-fated "Friends of Riccarton Junction", an organisation that was dissolved with violence (and subsequent criminal convictions) one stormy (in every sense of the word) night at Newcastleton Village Hall .
The chimney is the remains of a building the identity of which I do not know. I've been lucky enough to have been able to identify the residential buildings on the site, but I have not been able to find a plan that clearly identifies the railway buildings. If you can offer any advice in this respect, please .
And someone did write to me to tell me all about what I have said is a chimney. How grateful am I for my interactive readers?
It isn't clear in this photograph, but it can be said with a great deal of confidence that the ground level here is not the same ground level as when the railway was in operation. The ground level today is much lower than when the trains were running on it.
I said on another page that the site of Riccarton Junction had been built on ash - and in places this was as much as 60 feet deep. In the 1980s, long after the abandonment of the village, there was a sudden realisation that this ash had a certain value in the manufacture of breeze blocks, so a company set to work to quarry the ash. I was told by an informant when I started to research all of this for my thesis that the extraction was begun without planning permission and that this led to something of a hoo-hah in the Scottish Borders Council. This is something else that I have this flagged to follow up when I am next in Hawick, but if you can tell me anything about this, or anything else for that matter, please .
And so the chimney - which was where all of this began? It's not a chimney at all but a drain. That shows just how deep was the pile of ash that was needed to level out the land to enable the trains to run here.
From up in front of the Stationmaster's house, the site of the railway station can be clearly seen. The siting of the stationmaster's house vis-a-vis the station cannot have been anything but deliberate. Riccarton Junction was the only island platform station on the Waverley Line.
The Waverley Line curls away to the right towards Steele Road, Newcastleton (or Copshaw Holm, as the locals call it, reminiscing over the period prior to 1793 when the village of Castleton was in its previous location close to the junction of the Jedburgh and Hawick roads. Time passes slowly in this area) and thence to Carlisle. The old Border Counties Line bifurcates off to the left between the bushes on the left-hand edge of the photo at half-height.
So having emerged into the daylight, I'm now standing with my back to the south, more-or-less at the junction between the Waverley Line (behind me) and the Border Counties Line (over my right shoulder) and looking slightly north-west towards the site of the railway station. The school house and school are to the right on the skyline.
The old brake van is parked in what would have been the site of the bay platform used by the Border Counties trains to Hexham. It was brought here by the "Friends of Riccarton Junction", who also organised the relaying of the track that you see here. The notices on the van however imply that possession has now been claimed by the Forestry Commission. As you can see from this press report the "Friends of Riccarton Junction" was an organisation that was destined not to last the pace.
This was the former generating house - a reminder of the days pre-1955 before the National Grid arrived in the village. The generator supplied electricity to the railway property, the stationmaster's house, the village hall and just two railway houses - nos27 and 33. The villagers had to rely upon paraffin lamps.
This generating house was also the "office" of the ill-fated "Friends of Riccarton Junction", an organisation that set out with such high ideals and aspirations, did much good work here and about which I have spoken before.
This is really all that remains of the railway station today. I'm not even sure if the telephone box is the original, but there was certainly one on the station for use by villagers, station staff and passengers. In fact, when the Hawick Co-operative Society closed down the village shop in 1963 or 1964, orders had to be telephoned through to the Society's shop in Hawick. Some villagers preferred to telephone to a local grocer in Newcastleton.
Although there is nothing remaining of the station today, the writer Bill Peacock recorded a couple of visits to the site. In the mid 1970s he was able to report that the station buildings were still standing, and the south signal box appeared to be complete and in working order. By 1985 however, the station site site had been cleared. I've received an e-mail about the clearance of the station building, by the way, but decency, respect for my contributors and the absence of a clear and unequivocal "Statute of Limitations" in the British legal system makes me keep the contents to myself.
Again, I'm not quite sure what these ruins represent. There is an idea in my mind that they might be something to do with the gasworks that supplied the gas to the 300 or so gas lights on the railway property prior to the arrival of electricity in 1955. Please if you can throw any (gas) light on this subject.
From here, we can wander back up the Waverley Line to Whitrope Tunnel.