Last of the Westland Whigs

In the late 17th century, the 'Westland Whigs' were the radical descendants of earlier Covenanters who had defied the absolutist rule of Stuart kings in south west Scotland.

Friday, July 08, 2016

Craignair quarry -Dalbeattie aerial ropeway

from The Gallovidian, 1902.
When it is known that Messrs Newall turn out 25,000 tons of crushed granite annually, it will be readily recognised that the question of transit would prove a difficulty when undertaken by carting. Under such circumstances traffic was at times bound to become congested. To obviate the difficulty the managers (Mr W. N. Newall and Mr Gillespie) considered what system was most to be preferred. At first it was intended to construct a railway track, but the difficulty of bridging the River Urr had to be contended with, and ultimately the idea was abandoned as being much too costly. Mr Newall and Mr Gillespie then visited several ropeways running in the South of England, and came to the conclusion that a ropeway between Craignair and the railway was the thing required, and was forthwith erected. An idea of the saving of labour effected may be gathered from the fact that after the granite chips are thrown into the crusher, the produce is not again handled.
The crushed granite is conveyed to a special railway siding, constructed near Meikle Dalbeattie, by means of buckets drawn by a wire rope running round pulleys at each end. The buckets travel under the crusher bins (already mentioned), where six of them can be loaded at once, by simply pulling a lever. They are then pushed from under the bins and automatically leave the rail at the terminal station and are taken on by the cable. When once on the rope the buckets can only be released by lifting them bodily off, but if by chance or carelessness a load is allowed to run along to the station shunt rails unattended it would simply take on to the cable and automatically fix itself. The distance between the two stations is 870 yards, and to support the cable there are six graceful Eiffel-tower-like steel trestles from 30 feet to 50 feet high. Twenty-two buckets run on the cable, each having a carrying capacity of six cwts., and are calculated to convey 200 tons in a day. Along the extreme top of the trestles is a telephone wire connecting the two terminal stations. In the crusher buildings a six horse-power vertical engine drives the ropeway. Railway waggons are run alongside the station terminal and filled direct from the buckets, which are tilted by the man in charge. The waggons then pass over a weighing-machine specially constructed for the purpose. The ropeway is the first of the kind erected in Scotland.


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