Notes:When the Londonderry & Enniskillen Railway (L&ER) opened their first 14 miles of single track line on 19 April 1847 the northern terminus about a mile to the south of the walled city of Derry/Londonderry. Authorised in 1845 work began on the construction of the 59 mile line from Derry/Londonderry in October of that year. The 14 miles between Derry/Londonderry and Strabane followed the course of the River Foyle on its west bank and it posed no major engineering problems.
When the line was opened the northern terminus was simply called Londonderry but because the area was known as Gallows Strand it is often referred to by that name. It has also been referred to as Cow Market as the adjacent fields were used for that purpose annually.
A map from 1848 shows a very basic station layout that included offices and a locomotive shed.
At the time of opening there were four trains in each direction Monday-to-Saturday and owing to the line’s limited reach (Strabane being the southern terminus) it did not live up to its financial expectations which caused delays with the southward construction from Strabane.
A contemporary report described the Londonderry (Gallows Strand) station as ‘inconvenient for both passengers and goods, and must have operated injuriously to the traffic’. The L&ER provided coaches to connect with the City Centre as soon as Gallows Strand station opened. That the first station in Derry/Londonderry was about a mile from the city was certainly a disadvantage, and the L&ER obtained authorisation to make a northern extension to their line to a site adjacent to the Foyle Bridge, and Foyle Road, and close to the centre of the city. Work began on the extension in October 1849.
The March 1850 timetable showed Londonderry (Gallows Strand) as having four departures and four arrivals Monday-to-Saturday as shown in the table below. On Sundays there were two trains in each direction.
As can be seen in the timetable the L&ER had mail contracts which it had secured at the time of opening. As the line extended no further than Strabane onward travel to both Dublin and Sligo would have required road transport.
On 18 April 1850 the new terminus was opened and the original station was closed to passengers.
The L&ER completed its line to Enniskillen on 19 August 1854 and by 1859 it was connected to both Dublin and Belfast when the Dundalk and Enniskillen Railway (D&ER) opened its line to Enniskillen. In 1860 the D&ER took a lease to operate the L&ER who were in major financial problems, operating a railway in poor condition. By 1862 the line was being operated by the Irish North Western Railway (INWR), which became part of the Great Northern Railway Ireland (GNRI) by 1876. Under both the INWR and the GNRI developments took place at the site of the Londonderry (Gallows Strand) station.
After the Gallows Strand station had closed to passengers in 1850 the locomotive shed remained in use and the L&ER established their loco workshops there. They also repaired rolling stock at these works and even built their own wagons, which were noted for their poor quality, between 1854 and 1856. Under both the D&ER, and its successor the INWR, this site was used to repair steam locos at the Derry works. When the GNRI took over locomotive repairs continued at Derry until closure in 1899 (after the GNRI had built their new locomotive workshops in Dundalk). There also records of a separate Signal Cabin called the Works Cabin at this site until it closed by 1914. After closure of the Derry Works this site became part of an extended loco shed for Derry/Londonderry.
Timetable from Paul Wright and route map by Alan Young
- Challoner, Fairwell the Derry Road (Colourpoint, 2010)
- Johnson, S Johnson's Atlas & Gazetteer of The Railways of Ireland (Midland Publishing, 1997)
- Patterson, E The Great Northern Railway Ireland (The Oakwood Press, 2003)
To see the other disused
stations on the Londonderry Foyle Road - Omagh line click on the station
name: Londonderry Foyle Road, Carrigans, St Johnston, Carrickmore, Porthall and Strabane (GNRI)