Heritage Railway

Red Wheel plaque to honour Scotland’s second oldest line receives high-level political backing in Holyrood

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A NATIONAL Transport Trust Red Wheel plaque to mark Alloa’s famous Waggonway as a site of historical importance is being given the thumbs-up in the Scottish Parliament.

MSP Keith Brown has lodged a motion to welcome the plaque, to be installed by the trust when Covid-19 restrictio­ns allow.

The Waggonway, also known as the Alloa Railway, is believed to be the second oldest in Scotland.

It was opened by landowner John, 7th Earl of Mar in around 1768 and ran from Alloa Harbour through Sauchie, serving the colliery there, to Devon Colliery, north of Fishcross. The Earls of Mar owned extensive lands in the hinterland of Alloa, and for several centuries coal had been produced from pits on the estate.

Edinburgh was the biggest market for local coal, which could easily be carried along the Forth by boat, but getting the mineral to the shore of the Firth of Forth was the problem.

Origin

Initially on wooden tracks, and replaced by iron rails in about 1785, the waggons were drawn by horses on the 3ft 3in gauge line.

Branches eventually served several collieries. Two tunnel-like bridges have survived.

Mr Brown said: “Schemes like the Red Wheel plaques are important in reminding us – locals and visitors alike – how the places we know today were used in years gone by.

“The remaining paths of the Waggonway may now be used by pedestrian­s and cyclists, but they were once an important industrial artery along which coal-laden waggons were once pulled by ponies from the collieries to the docks.

“That hard work and industry helped to build the town we know today and deserves to be remembered.”

Scotland’s oldest railway is believed to be the Tranent to Cockenzie Waggonway in Lothian, which opened in 1722.

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