George Kinloch, Dundee’s first elected MP, was a great supporter of the idea of a Dundee and Newtyle railway. In 1826, Kinloch piloted a Bill through Parliament, leading to the creation of the Dundee and Newtyle Railway Company – wherein he swiftly took upon himself the position of Elected Chairman. Charles Landale, a civil engineer within Dundee, proposed two routes in which the new railway should go through. One route would go from Dundee to Forfar via Douglastown, before making its way to Mill of Newtyle, whilst the other route would take a direct route from Dundee to Mill of Newtyle. The latter route was chosen. The railway would provide Newtyle with potential for growth, as it was a promising industry. However, it was difficult to reach from Dundee. Prior to the construction of the railway, the only mode of transport to Newtyle was a stagecoach to and from Blairgowrie that only came 2-3 times a week during the summer months. Furthermore, with the industrial nature of Newtyle, the railway would offer the working-class citizens of Dundee a cheap method of travelling to Newtyle. A final major benefit of this railway line was its ability to transport various products (such as coal) cheaply between the two towns. In 1831 the railway was officially opened and was one of the earliest railway lines in operation.
For passengers, during the summer, the train would run four times daily – at 8am, 10:30am, 1pm and 4pm. In the winter the train would miss out the 1pm timeslot available during the summer. First-class passengers would pay 1s. 6d.; second-class passengers would pay 1s. 3d.; and third-class passengers would pay 1s. Due to the train company making a loss in its later years, an ‘extra first-class’ was added to the fare prices – at 1s. 8d. The carriages of the train were divided into compartments for the respective classes: first-class had the most room, with a single carriage, split into three compartments, each holding eight passengers. Third-class travellers would have to make-do with a great number of passengers crammed into open compartments. The trains would also carry all kinds of goods: from manure, to coal, to bricks, slates and stones. Charges would be made according to the number of tonnes the goods weighed, and the mileage required. Pricing would be divided into 4 miles, 4-7 miles, over 7 miles and any distance. Dundee and Newtyle Railway Company employed 26 different roles. The Manager at the top, who would be paid £70 a year; a humongous salary in comparison to the ten-way men at the bottom. The annual cost of the railway (including coal, maintenance, wages, etc.) would cost £3,400.
The Company was unprofitable for its shareholders, and there was an unsuccessful attempt at raising the prices of third-class passenger fares from 1s. to 1s. 3d. in 1836. This had caused a decline in the number of passengers from 40,378 to 29,387, further causing the Company’s profits to dwindle and forcing the Company to return their prices to their prior state after just nine months. Various accidents were happening to the railway workers due to bad design in some areas, or simply due to negligence from other staff. This gave the Company a bad reputation. Thomas Coupar a porter, was working on the railway track in Dundee on the 23rd April 1841. He was killed after another member of staff failed to alert Coupar that the train was about to move off. A year later, the Inspector-General of Railways inspected the Company’s railway line, leaving a scathing report on the many technical issues present. Both the financial and practical issues lead to the eventual demise of the Dundee and Newtyle Railway company. In 1865, the Company’s railway line was absorbed by the Caledonian Railway company, before the Caledonian Railway Company was taken over by London Midland and Scottish lines in 1923. In 1948, the railways of the UK were nationalised. The final death of this railway line itself was to occur in 1967, when the very last section of the line – the route from Ninewells Junction to Maryfield – was closed.
Information and photographs from:
Dundee Museums and Art Galleries Extension Services, 1981. Albert Square, Dundee, DD1 1DA, now: The McManus, Leisure and Culture Dundee.