Notes: Knockmore Junction Halt was situated on the Great Northern Railway Ireland (GNRI) Dunlin Amiens Street – Belfast Great Victoria Street main line. The section of line on which the halt stood (Lurgan to Lisburn) had been opened by the Ulster Railway (UR) on 18 November 1842. As a through route the line was opened in stages by different companies with Dublin and Belfast being linked by a direct route from 11 May 1853 via a temporary timber viaduct over the River Boyne at Drogheda (replaced by a permanent structure on 5 April 1855). The GNRI was formed on 1 April 1876.
Knockmore was a three way junction located on the west side of a level crossing which carried the Knockmore Road across the line. Branching off to the north was the GNRI Antrim branch, a 20 mile line opened by the Dublin & Antrim Junction Railway on 13 November 1871 (absorbed by GNRI in 1879). Branching off towards the south was the GNRI Banbridge line opened by the Banbridge Lisburn & Belfast Railway on 13 July 1863 (the line was extended to Ballyroney on 14 December 1880 and to Newcastle on 24 March 1906).
In 1922 following the Irish War of Independence (1919 – 1922) the island of Ireland was divided into two separate states, The Irish Free State (after 1948 Republic of Ireland) and Northern Ireland. The GNRI Dublin – Belfast line became an international route located in both countries which caused it some difficulties. Knockmore Junction was in Northern Ireland.
The halt was located on the east side of the Knockmore Road level crossing. It consisted of simple timber platforms that was accessed from the road. It was served by local trains running between Belfast Great Victoria Street and Portadown and also by services that ran to and from the Antrim and the Banbridge branches.
The halt was clearly not a success as it was closed in late 1933/early 1934.
The GNRI reopened Knockmore Junction Halt in 1945 but once again it was not a success and it had closed by 1946.
After the Second World War (1939 – 1945) the GNRI faced financial difficulties and in 1953 it was jointly nationalised as the Great Northern Railway Board (GNRB). The other railways of Northern Ireland had been nationalised in 1948 under the Ulster Transport Authority (UTA). Because the GNRI had operated in two countries it had proved difficult to nationalise it at that time. The UTA, along with the Northern Ireland Government, was notoriously anti-rail (in 1950 it closed the entire Belfast & County Down Railway system except for the Belfast – Bangor line) and this influence was felt as the GNRB closed the line between Knockmore Junction and Banbridge on 30 April 1956 (Banbridge – Newcastle having closed 2 May 1955). Frustrated at not being able to close the lines of the former GNRI the Northern Ireland government dissolved the GNRB in May 1958. They divided the assets between the two states depending upon which side of the border they were located. The UTA closed the Antrim branch to passenger services on 12 September 1960.
The Antrim branch remained open for freight and a short stub of the Banbridge line, between Knockmore Junction and Newforge Siding, had also remained open.
The Knockmore Junction – Newforge siding line closed in February 1965.
In 1968 the UTA was abolished and what was left of the Northern Ireland railway network became part of Northern Ireland Railways (NIR). NIR was a more pro-rail organisation and it set about making improvements to the network in the Belfast area. One of the most significant improvements saw the creation of a Belfast Central station which opened on 12 April 1976. The new station was designed to replace three termini that were located in different parts of the city and bring the train services together. At the time of opening it was able to replace two of the stations (Belfast Great Victoria Street and Belfast Queens Quay). It was also able to handle Londonderry services through a reopening of the Antrim branch.
A local passenger service was introduced between Lisburn and Antrim on 26 January 1974.
NIR wanted to close the level crossing at Knockmore and replace it with an overbridge. They also wanted to close the signal box and the solution they came up with was to lay a ‘third line’ parallel to the main line from Knockmore Junction to Lisburn station. Track laying started in 1975 and was in place by May of that year. That is except for a short section that needed to pass through the site of the signal box. The project then stalled due to planning issues and objections from residents and the matter ended up going to a public enquiry in May 1976. The public enquiry ruled in favour of NIR but it took until mid-May 1977 for approval to be granted. The last full day of operation for Knockmore Junction signal box was Friday 27 May 1977. It was closed and demolished the next day and the junction was removed. The final section of the ‘third line’ was laid. The new line was brought into use on Monday 30 May 1977. At the same time a bridge was built to carry Knockmore Road over the line and the level crossing was removed. Any trace of the halt that had survived up to this point was swept away under the works.
In 2014 NIR announced plans to create a new park and ride station on the site of Knockmore Junction Halt but by 2017 no progress had been made.
Route map by Alan Young
- Along UTA Lines, Ulsters Rail Network in the 1960s - Ian McLarnon Sinclair - Colourpoint 2009
- Dark Days and Brighter Days for Northern Ireland Railways - Edwin McMillan - Colourpoint 2016.
- Johnson's Atlas & Gazetteer of the Railways of Ireland - Stephen Johnson - Midland Publishing 1997
- Notes and diary records of Edwin McMillan
- One Hundred and Fifty Years of Irish Railways - Fergus Mulligan - Appletree Press 1983.
- Railways in Ireland, Part 2 - Martin Bairstow 2007
- The Great Northern Railway, an Irish Railway Pictorial - Tom Ferris - Midland Publishing 2003
See Also: Belfast Great Victoria Street
To see the GNRI Antrim branch click
on the station name:
Knockmore, Brookmount, Brookhill Halt,
Meeting House Halt, Ballinderry, Legatiriff Halt, Glenavy, Crumlin,
Aldergrove and Millar's Bridge Halt