Sometimes people ask –
“Where was the Railway Station in St Andrews?”
© GM Cowie St Andrews from the Links c1960s
In 1850 the St Andrews Railway Company was formed and a railway line was laid from the Leuchars Junction to Junction to St Andrews. In 1852 the Goods Station was built outside St Andrews near where the Old Course Hotel is now. All kinds of goods, including coal, came in at this station and were delivered to various locations in the town, in the early days at home and cart. The Station Master’s house was nearby, now the Jigger Inn. There was an iron bridge over the railway lines and I remember when we were pupils at Madras College we could use this bridge to cross over the lines when going to the playing fields at Station Park.
The Passenger Station was built in 1887. It was situated in the hollow between Kinburn Park and the Bus Station (see above photograph). This area is now a carpark which leads down to the Petheram Bridge Car Park. It was a great step forward when the passenger station was built. The tourist industry flourished. People could reach St Andrews more easily and hotels, restaurants, shops etc. all benefited. In the 1920s/30s Johnston’s house drawn cabs met incoming trains. The station would always be busy with students, golfers, holiday makers, St Leonard’s girls, folk going to Dundee etc., or group to Leuchars Junction to catch a train to travel further afield.
When coming back from Dundee, I remember getting off the train at Leuchars and the St Andrews train would be sitting in a siding waiting to take passengers to St Andrews.
1887 was also the year when the railway line was laid from St Andrews round the coast to Anstruther, with stations at Mount Melville, Stravithie, Boarhills, Kingsbarns and Crail. It was in use until the Beeching cuts in 1965. I was never on this line, but I believe it was quite picturesque.
The last train left St Andrews at 10.30pm on Saturday 4th January 1969. It returned from Leuchars to St Andrews at 11.07pm. The driver was Jock Speed. I understand that the communication cord was pulled several times! The passengers sang ‘Auld Lang Syne’ and the gates were closed for the last time.
However this was not the end for the old railway station. In July 1969 St Andrews Town Council bought the station and tracks from British Rail. The St Andrews Youth Development Committee, who would open The Cosmos Youth Centre in 1971, managed to get a lease on the station from the Town Council, rent fee, for use by the Ichthus Youth Club. It then became home to the youth club for the next two years. This was a very successful time for the club. As well as all the usual activities of a youth club- discos, darts, snooker, table-tennis etc., - they made maximum use of the station. A summer fete was held which included pony rides on the platform and clock golf on the tracks. This is another story in itself, and was one of the tops in the Research Groups exhibition held recently in the museum.