The Dundee to Tayport railway line opened in May 1879 following the opening of the Tay Railway Bridge the previous year. The railway connection was an immediate success, and the benefits of the line to the people of the villages on the south shore of the river have been immortalised in William McGonagall’s poem The Newport Railway. The success of the new railway line was short-lived however as the Tay Bridge Disaster of 28th December 1879 effectively severed the rail link for eight years until the replacement bridge was opened in 1887. Fortunately from then onwards the Newport Railway was restored, with four stations serving this corner of North East Fife: Wormit, Newport-on-Tay West, Newport-on-Tay East and Tayport. A railway timetable of 1956 shows 22 trains each way each day, an indication of just how busy the line was. The service ended finally in May 1969, three years after the opening of the Tay Road Bridge.
Delights of the Newport Railway
William McGonagall was well aware of the charms of the railway line on the south shore of the Tay, and for ninety years the route from Tayport to Wormit must have rated as one of the great short railway journeys, offering a delightful variety of scenes and scenery all packed into a few short miles. Starting right beside the harbour in Tayport, the train chugged steadily up the incline to Newport. After leaving Tayport, the fields and open countryside offered splendid views of Broughty Ferry with its castle guarding the entrance to the estuary, and of Dundee harbour and all the related shipping activity on the river. Soon the train was passing the elegant villas of Newport and the lush vegetation and woodland of Tayfield Estate. The viaduct there and the tunnel at Wormit illustrated the fine engineering skills of the Victorian builders. Stops at Newport East and Newport West allowed the
passengers to admire the neat and tidy stations, particularly at Newport West which frequently won awards in the ‘best-kept station’ competition. And of course, throughout the whole journey, but especially as the train gained the high ground from Newport to Wormit, there were these magnificent vistas, never the same on any two days, out over the river to the Dundee skyline and beyond to the mountains of Angus and Perthshire.
The Railway Today
There is still much of the railway and its infrastructure to be seen between Tayport and Wormit. Most of the route of the old railway line has been converted to cycle path and public pathway, all forming parts of the local nature trail, and it is possible to walk from Wormit to Tayport, for much of the way on the old rail route.
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