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HISTORY

Situated in the county of Roxburghshire, in the Scottish Borders, Riccarton Junction was a railway village and station on the former North British Railway Edinburgh – Carlisle line known as the “Waverley Route”. The station was the junction for the Border Counties line to Hexham and at one time through trains ran from Hawick to Newcastle upon Tyne via this route. There was no road access to the junction until 1963 when a forest track/bridle road was constructed from the B6399 road at Whitrope Summit, some three miles away. In its heyday there were as many as 118 residents in the village which had its own school, Post Office and shop (a branch of the Hawick Co-operative Society situated latterly in one of the platform buildings). The branch line to Kielder and Hexham closed to passenger trains on 15 October 1956 although occasional special trains such as Rambler’s Excursions operated by diesel multiple units worked through from the North Eastern region until complete closure from 1st September 1958 when Riccarton ceased to be a “Junction”. In 1963 the “Beeching Report”, The Reshaping of British Railways proposed closure of the “Waverley Route” and its remaining branches. During the same year the school was closed and children still living at Riccarton travelled by train to school in Newcastleton or Hawick.

When a doctor was needed he would travel from Newcastleton or Hawick by a scheduled passenger train or if the situation was urgent by freight train or pilot engine. If the patient needed hospital treatment they were taken by train to Carlisle where an ambulance would be waiting to transport them to hospital. In earlier times a church train also ran taking worshippers to Newcastleton one week and to Hawick the next.

Sadly, the “Waverley Route”, including all stations between Edinburgh and Carlisle, was closed on 6th January 1969 thus marking the end of an era for this once busy railway outpost. By this time all residents in the village had moved out and since then all track has been lifted. Most of the buildings and infrastructure have also disappeared and Riccarton Junction has become one of Scotland’s lost villages. Today, all that remains is the island platform, the generator building, the school house and school building (now in private ownership) and the roofless shell of the former Station Master’s house. Except for the former school house and school building, the ground on which the former station and village once stood, including the railway trackbed in the area is now owned by Forestry Commission, Scotland.

During 1997 a voluntary organisation by the name of “Friends of Riccarton Junction” was constituted with the aim of restoring as much of the station as possible. To this end the “Friends” obtained a long lease on the former generator building, the platform and surrounding area from Forestry Commission, Scotland. Following a great deal of fund raising and with the help of a grant from the former Leader Two project the former generator building was restored and became an Interpretive Centre. It was also used as an Administration Office and meeting room for the “Friends”. Again, after a great deal of fundraising and this time with the help of a 50% grant from the Hawick Partnership, major restoration work to the platform was undertaken during 2004. This included laying of track alongside the southbound platform and replacing the former telephone kiosk which once stood on the platform. Further trackwork was planned to take place during 2006 and it was hoped that in the not too distant future enough funding cound be secured to enable the restoration and reinstatement of the northbound platform in its entirety.

Unfortunately, at the 2005 Annual General Meeting of the Friends of Riccarton Junction, disagreement between members resulted in a number of office bearers being elected to the committee who lacked the drive and vision of the previous committee and as a result the restoration project quickly ground to a halt. Regrettably, no further progress was made and at an Extraordinary General Meeting of the “Friends”, held on 11 April 2008, in accordance with the Constitution the few members remaining decided unanimously to wind up the organisation. Once the grant conditions for the track had expired it was sold to a scrap contractor who then sold it on to the Waverley Route Heritage Association.

Walkers and cyclists are still welcome to visit the station site but unofficial vehicular traffic is forbidden. At the time of revising this section of the website in November 2020 it was reported that Forestry were giving serious consideration to demolishing the generator building (and the nearby bothy which is not part of the station site) alleging vandalism. To demolish the last remaining building at the station site surely begs the question as to who is the vandal?