The East of Fife Railway brought the line from Leven to Kilconquhar, which was opened on 8 July 1857. Kilconquhar was the terminus of the line until extended by the Leven & East Fife Railway Company to Anstruther Wester. This extension, with intermediate stations at Elie, St Monans and Pittenweem, opened on 1 September 1863 and connected Elie to the railway network. The line was built by Thomas Bouch, who had built the St Andrews Railway and the Leven Railway – along with the ill-fated Tay Bridge!
The construction of the extension line to Anstruther was let in three contracts; from Kilconquhar to Ardross; Ardross to Pittenweem and
Pittenweem to Anstruther Wester. John Sang of Kirkcaldy was the engineer and built all three sections. A large portion of the rails was delivered to Elie Harbour in two vessels and other building materials came in through Anstruther. On completion, the line was inspected by Colonel Yolland RE from the Board of Trade on 13 August 1863 and opened for passenger traffic on 1 September.
So, at last and after some delay, Elie finally had its station and was connected to the national rail network. This was a momentous occasion and considerable crowds assembled to witness the novelty of a railway in operation.
Elie eventually had a goods yard with four sidings along with a small dock platform with a 3-ton crane. There was also a large water tower, which was relocated to the end of the newly extended down platform in 1900. Elie Station was the only source of water for locomotives between Cameron Bridge and Anstruther. 1899 saw the introduction of telephone communication between Thornton and Anstruther.
Camping coaches were introduced around the country in the early 1950s. Elie and Lundin Links received one each in1953 and one was installed at St Monans the following year. A second camping coach was placed at Elie from 1956-1963. At the end of each season the coaches were taken through to St Rollox in Glasgow for an annual overhaul.
For over a century the line served the East Neuk of Fife and carried coal, fish, farmers and tourists along its length. Many local people have happy memories travelling on the line, whether to shops or school in Anstruther or further afield to Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee.
The line between Leven and St Andrews was closed to passengers on 6 September 1965 as part of ‘The Reshaping of British Railways’, Dr Richard Beeching’s infamous report of 1963, which changed the face of transport in the UK.
The station quickly fell into disrepair after closure in 1965. Before long the demolition contractor had lifted the track and all other metal of value, leaving just the buildings.
On 22 June 1968 the station was gutted by fire, which – allegedly – was started by a former employee. Plans were already in hand to redevelop the station and goods yard site and build new houses – and so Baird Place was created. There are still many signs of the railway if you look around for them.
4 thoughts on “Elie Station”
Well researched and very well produced. Very interesting piece although it made me feel very old. I remember the holiday carriages but not where they were sited. Another excellent piece from a hard working group.
I remember going with my granny to the top of Park Place to watch for the steam trains. Sometimes we went to Edinburgh by train. I remember the carriages.
What I can’t really remember is, when we went to Elie from Arbroath would we have changed trains at Leuchars? But then again I remember my grandfather waiting for us at Leuchars.
I loved being in the train and looking out at the sea. A beautiful ride.
I remember my granny letting us know about the fire.
You have rekindled memories. Thank you.
I recall the sugar beet being loaded into the old open wagons in the siding, presumably headed for processing into sugar in Cupar.
Also noted that the map shows the old outdoor toilet blocks at the Primary School which, at this time of year, would frequently be frozen over and would need the Janny (Tom Meldrum’s dad as I recall) to break the ice in the pans before they could be used.
I was working in Elie when the station closed. It was like a pending death. Nobody wanted it but it was inevitable.