Athlone Midland

This was the first railway station to serve the large Co.Westmeath town of Athlone located on the River Shannon. The Midland Great Western Railway opened the line to Athlone in 1851 as part of their main line to Galway. A large station was established on the western side of the Shannon beyond the impressive 450 feet river bridge. The station had up and down platforms, the down been effectively an island, giving the station three platforms in total. The main buildings, accessed at street level were located on the up platform. The platforms were also covered by typical MGWR style canopies. Two tall water towers were also provided at the either end of the station, the western one been located adjacent to the locomotive shed, opposite which was the small goods shed. Also at the western end of the station was the large brick built MGWR signal cabin which controlled the junction for the Westport line. There were also extensive sidings and loco facilities at the western extremity of the station by the Galway line, but all have since been removed.
In 1985, Athlone Midland was closed, and passenger services were transferred to the MGWR's rival Great Southern & Western station on the east side of Shannon, closed since 1925. The disused station buildings, as well as the down platform canopy, remain intact at Athlone Midland, but the sidings and yard have been rationalised since the signal cabin was taken out of use in mid 1980s and replaced by modern CTC signalling.
071 Class loco No.081 arrives into Athlone Midland with the 08.00 Westport to Dublin in July 1978, formed by a TPO, steam van and the then Mk2 coaching stock. Note also the water column and the Midland Great Western style canopy. ©Jonathan M.Allen 074 stands at Athlone Midland Station with the 15:00 Galway to Dublin service in 1984. One of the CIE 1963 installed colour light signals can be seen on the right. ©Jonathan M.Allen Also in 1978, 001 Class loco No.006 comes off the one time double track River Shannon bridge with the 08.20 Dublin to Galway service. As can be seen there was a 20mph speed limit on the structure. On the right is the tall MGWR water tower. ©Jonathan M.Allen 001 Class loco No.009 is seen stabled at the east end of Athlone Midland Station in 1983. To the right are CIE's 4-wheel sugar beet wagons which served the Athlone area until the early 1980s. ©John Law
The deserted Athlone Midland Station. This is the up platform, with the main station buildings built of stone, dating from 1859. An extension to the main buildings at Athlone was this brick built single storey structure which once featured a canopy, located at the west end of the down platform. When Athlone Midland closed in 1984, the trackwork was simplified and all sidings on the up side of the station serving the small goods shed were removed. Note the two aspect WABCO signal. This is the earlier 1851 stone built MGWR water tower, which is located at the east end of Athlone Midland. It is located on the up side of the station, adjacent to the end of the River Shannon bridge.
A view of the eastern end of the up platform, which was an island. Portacabins have been built on the trackbed which served the platform, tracks do remain behind them and are used as sidings. A view from beneath the canopy on the island platform at Athlone Midland Station. Some of the tiling remains on the platform surface, preserved beneath the canopy. Another view of the intact canopy on the island platform at Athlone Midland Station. Note also the platform lamp and the remains of a one time nameboard. This view is looking east towards Dublin. Seen outside the engine shed at the west end of Athlone Midland Station is 042 in July 1983. In the siding adjacent to the goods shed is one of 1960s built Wickham inspection cars. ©Jonathan M.Allen
Two sidings are retained for access to the former MGWR goods shed at the west end of Athlone Midland, however they have not been used for many years. At the west end of Athlone Midland, the line to Westport and Ballina diverges and heads northwest. In the foreground can be seen the well of the filled in turntable, behind which is the former cattle loading bank. The bridge across the River Shannon is 450 feet in length. The centre span, viewed here, has a span of 120 feet and could once be rotated to allow tall ships to pass through on the Shannon, a feature of which has not been used for several decades.