Key dates in history - Kyle Line and Kyle Harbour


Official ferry service starts between Kyle and Kyleakin, using a large rowing boat – though the sea passage has been used since Viking times at least.


Railway line between Inverness and Dingwall is opened.


Dingwall and Skye Railway proposed by landowners on Skye and along the route seeking to develop their estates. It is authorised the following year. 


Dingwall to Stromeferry section opens on 19 August. Steamers take people from Stromeferry on Loch Carron to Skye and the Isle of Lewis.


Stromeferry Riot – 200 fishermen try to stop the unloading of fish on a Sunday.


Work starts on the Kyle Extension. The 10 mile stretch of railway from Stromeferry to Kyle is hugely expensive, requiring 29 bridges and more than 30 rock cuttings.

Railway cutting, Erbusaig


Stromeferry to Kyle section opens on 2 November. The new station pier, constructed using rock from the railway excavations, provides a connection to the ferry services for the Outer Hebrides.


Kyle expands rapidly – from a handful of houses to a busy rail and sea terminal and commercial centre.  Fish can now reach Billingsgate Market in London within 24 hours of landing, and the transport of livestock is also revolutionised. The Highland Railway sells off plots of land to encourage development and settlement.


First motor boat used on Kyle–Kyleakin crossing. It is able to tow a car mounted on the rowing boat ferry.

Early car ferry: Motor boat towing a rowing boat with a car balanced on it, 1920s


Kyle is a major naval base During World War I. Northern Scotland is of great strategic importance and becomes a Restricted Area requiring travel permits. The Kyle Railway is requisitioned by the Admiralty – the Government department responsible for the Royal Navy – and sees massive flows of naval personnel and supplies.

Soldier departing Kyle for Inverness near the end of World War I


On 31 December Kyle is the departure point for HMY Iolaire, bringing soldiers returning from World War I home to the Outer Hebrides. Early the next morning it sinks close to its destination with the tragic loss of 205 passengers.

Kyle Jetty, 1920s, with pier and railway station in the background


Last ‘Skye Bogie’ scrapped as trains become too heavy for them to pull. The Skye Bogie was a special class of engine developed to cope with the steep gradients and sharp curves of the line.


Kyle of Lochalsh station and pier in the 1920s


First turntable ferry for carrying a motor vehicle introduced on the Kyle–Kyleakin crossing. A ferry able to carry two cars is introduced 1936.

Turntable ferry with the Portree paddle steamer in the background, 1930s 


First day excursion from Glasgow to Skye by railway. Needing two overnight journeys, it required cars for dining and sleeping.

A packed ferry at Kyle of Lochalsh, 1930s/40s


During World War II, Kyle again becomes a key naval base (‘port ZA’). Northern Scotland is strategically vital and becomes a Restricted Area. The railway carries service personnel, arms and other equipment to Scotland’s northeast coast, to be used in convoy operations. Mines are stored along the line in specially constructed sidings.

WWII Air Raid Precautions Squad whitewashing the rock face near Kyle slipway to guide to those travelling without lights after dark


A loaded minelayer, HMS Port Napier, catches fire alongside the pier. Disaster is avoided as the wreck is taken across the Kyle and scuttled – it is still visible at low tide.


Rail traffic decreases as motor cars are increasingly common across the UK.


Last regular steam train service operates on the Kyle Line – now replaced by diesel engines.


Government-commissioned Beeching Report, ‘Reshaping Britain’s Railways’, recommends that the Kyle of Lochalsh line is closed. The line remains open, however.


Achterneed, Glencarron and Duncraig stations are closed. Duncraig later reopens as a request stop.


First Sunday ferry between Kyle and Kyleakin.


The Kyle Line is again marked for closure. A major ‘Save the Kyle Railway Line’ campaign begins.


Ferry service between Kyle and Stornoway ends as the Outer Isles ferry is transferred to Ullapool.


Decision to close the Kyle Line is overturned, due to both campaigning and the need to transport material for a new oil rig construction facility at Kishorn.


Mail boat between Kyle and Portree is withdrawn.


The Kyle Line features as one of the ‘Great Railway Journeys of the World’ in Michael Palin’s popular BBC TV series.


Goods services by rail in and out of Kyle cease. In the same year, the Kyle Line starts passenger services on a Sunday.


Kyle Signal Box closes following the introduction of Radio Electronic Token Block (RETC) signalling.


Friends of the Kyle Line formed by volunteers seeking to campaign against line closure and protect its future.


Skye Bridge opens on 16 October, replacing the ferry. Built under a private finance initiative, its toll charges are the highest per metre in Europe.


The Kyle Line celebrates its centenary in November with a Black Five steam train to Kyle.


Friends of the Kyle Line open a shop and exhibition space in Kyle Station buildings, showing photographs and railway memorabilia.



Skye Bridge tolls are abolished after the Scottish Executive acquires the bridge at a cost of £27m.


Friends of the Kyle Line acquire the lease on Kyle Signal Box, which has been severely damaged by fire, and embark on major refurbishment.


The refurbished Kyle Signal Box opens as holiday accommodation. All profits support Kyle Station Museum.


Kyle Station Museum reopens following refurbishment.

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