Bo'ness Foreshore, Kinneil Nature Reserve

Going full steam ahead to Bo’ness

Seaview Place car park in Bo’ness was once home to the town’s original railway station.

Work started on creating a branch line – an extension of the Slamannan Railway – in the 1840s, with the first revenue-earning train running in 1851.

Initially the track was used to carry goods from the busy industrial complexes around Bo’ness.  But locals quickly demanded passenger services.

The first passenger train is thought to have run from Bo’ness in 1856. One hundred years later – in 1956 – passenger services ended (although the route continued to be used by coal trains).

Bo’ness resident Nancy Findlay grew up near the old station.

She has happy memories of playing around the site and going on trips to Glasgow (changing trains at Polmont) – as well as services being cancelled when the line was flooded.

“The station’s most famous claim to fame was that there was a big sign that said ‘High Tide No Train’,” she said.

Rail enthusiast Hamish Stevenson says: “The station closed to passengers on Saturday, May 5, 1956. However, I believe a few special football trains ran for a bit after that.

“I moved to live here in 2002 and then the coping stones off the platform edge were still visible opposite Corvi’s in the car park. But they’ve not been there for some years now.”

Parts of the original Bo’ness line continued to operate into the 1970s serving Kinneil Colliery.

The 1970s also saw the route taken over – restored and re-built – by the Scottish Railway Preservation Society. Short passenger journeys were started by the SRPS in 1979, with Birkhill Station opening in 1987.

Over the past 40 years, volunteers have developed a popular heritage steam railway on the Bo’ness branch line, with trains running from a “new” station – actually a collection of vintage buildings – east of Bo’ness Docks.

AUDIO: Listen to Nancy Findlay talk about the original Bo’ness Station.

The remains of the original Bo’ness Station in 1961. The site is now occupied by Seaview Place Car Park. Picture by Ben Brooksbank. Creative Commons Attribution Share-alike license 2.0. More here.


The Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway is a popular location for film-makers. The TV series “Outlander” has been Kinneil shot at Bo’ness. The whisky drama “The Angels’ Share” was shot at Birkhill Station, south of the town. And Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman made their 2013 movie “The Railway Man” at the current Bo’ness Station.

This content was produced in association with Sustrans Scotland as part of the Scottish Greenways Programme, in association with Falkirk Council and Great Place Falkirk.

Sustrans is a registered charity in England and Wales (number 326550) and Scotland (SC039263) and a company limited by guarantee registered in England No 1797726 at 2 Cathedral Square, Bristol, BS1 5DD.