Notes: Porthall station was opened by the Londonderry & Enniskillen Railway (L&ER) in May 1848. It was located on their single track Derry/Londonderry – Strabane section of line that had opened on 19 April 1847. There had been three intermediate stations originally on this line and Porthall was the fourth. The station was located in a sparsely populated area of County Donegal on the west side of the River Foyle. At the time of opening the station facilities would have been quite basic and they were situated on the south side of a minor road, which crossed the line by means of a level crossing at the station itself.
On 15 February 1965 the UTA closed the ‘Derry Road’ route completely and Porthall lost its rail services.
At the time of opening the station was served by trains that were running between Londonderry (Gallows Strand) and Strabane but from 18 April 1850 down direction (northbound) services ran to the new terminus of Londonderry Foyle Road.
The L&ER struggled financially and extending the line south from Strabane was slow. Newtownstewart was reached on 9 May 1852 and a few months later on 13 September 1852 the line opened to Omagh. It would take until 19 August 1854 for Enniskillen to be reached by railway.
By February 1859 Strabane was connected to Ireland’s capital city Dublin and by September 1861 it was connected to the North of Ireland’s largest city, Belfast. It was the route to Belfast, via Omagh, Dungannon and Portadown that later became known as the ‘Derry Road’.
On 1 January 1860 the L&ER leased its line to the Dundalk & Enniskillen Railway (for 99 years) who renamed themselves as the Irish North Western Railway (INWR) in 1862.
In 1876 the INWR merged with other railway companies to form the Great Northern Railway Ireland (GNRI).
By the late 19th century, Porthall station now consisted a single storey building, located adjacent to the level crossing, on the west side of the line. The design of Porthall was similar to other station buildings built by the GNRI in the last two decades of the 19th Century, such as Balmoral and some intermediate stations on the GNRI Antrim branch. To the south of the building there was a single platform, which had been lengthened in 1879, on the west side of the line.
After the partition of Ireland into two separate countries in 1921 (Northern Ireland and The Irish Free State) the GNRI system found itself located within two separate countries with all of the difficulties that imposed. County Donegal became part of the Irish Free State. County Tyrone, in which Strabane was located, and County Londonderry, in which Londonderry Foyle Road was located now became part of Northern Ireland. Eleven miles of the almost 15 miles long line between Derry/Londonderry and Strabane was within the Free State including Porthall. This was particularly difficult for the GNRI and a customs post had to be created at the station.
In 1953 the GNRI had to be taken into the joint ownership of the governments of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland (the Irish Free State having been renamed in 1949). The two governments ran the company through a GNR board until September 1958 when they passed the ownership to their two respective nationalised railway concerns. Strabane station being in Northern Ireland became part of the Ulster Transport Authority (UTA).
The UTA was a notoriously anti-rail organisation and they reduced the passenger service at Porthall down to a mere handful of trains a week from 1959 onwards.
CLICK HERE FOR A DETAILED HISTORY OF PORTHALL STATION
Tickets from Michael Stewart, Timetables from Jim McBride and Paul Wright. Route map
by Alan Young
- Challoner, E Fairwell the Derry Road (Colourpoint, 2010)
- Johnson, S Johnson's Atlas & Gazetteer of The Railways of Ireland (Midland Publishing, 1997)
- Mahon, G Irish Railway Record Society Journals - 1954 to 1985 (Irish Railway Record Society)
- Patterson, E The Great Northern Railway Ireland (The Oakwood Press, 2003)
- UTA Working Timetables Working Timetable from 15 June 1964 (UTA)
To see the other disused
stations on the Londonderry Foyle Road - Omagh line click on the station
name: Londonderry Foyle Road,
Londonderry (Gallows Strand). Carrigans, St Johnston,
Carrickmore and Strabane (GNRI)