Presenter Barra Best is back on track with a new BBC NI series of Walk The Line taking viewers on a trip back in time to discover some of the hidden history, landscapes and people connected with our rail heritage.
Once again Barra will be exploring our links with the golden age of rail during an era when the network flourished.
In the new three-part series, starting on BBC One Northern Ireland on Monday, 7th September at 7.30pm, Barra traces some of the lost lines, investigating why they were built and eventually fell into decline, and tracks down some of the infrastructure that still exist.
In the first programme, Barra begins his journey at the end of a line high up in the Antrim hills on the Ballymena-Cushendall-Red Bay route. It should have gone all the way to Red Bay but the track stopped at Retreat. The route reached a summit of 1045ft and served a flourishing mining industry with hundreds of workers mining iron ore from the hills. Local historian Donnell O’Loan explains to Barra how the ore was mined and its connection with the railway.
Barra continues his journey to Parkmore - the last stop for passengers on the route - to meet dereliction photographer Peter Irvine at the station building and water tower that still remain. But only
Next stop is the tearoom at the foot of Glenariff – the ‘Queen of the Glens’ - a place connected with Railway Civil Engineer, Berkeley Deane Wise – perhaps better known today as the man behind The Gobbins walk. As well as an engineer, he also had the foresight to see the potential for tourism – designing golf courses, promenades and bandstands – and the tearoom at Glenariff.
The programme continues by following the route from Ballymena to Larne which first opened in 1877 and ran the most luxurious narrow gauge boat train in Ireland.
At Larne, Barra speaks to writer and broadcaster Colm Flanagan about the boat trains – the connection between the railway and the ferries on both sides of the Irish Sea. The crossing was the route favoured by most people travelling to and from London, with trains at Stranraer, that featured sleeping accommodation, to meet the ships from Larne.
The last stop for Barra is a visit to The Gobbins - one of the most spectacular masterpieces of railway engineer Berkeley Deane Wise.
“I’m absolutely delighted to be back with a new series of Walk the Line. The response from viewers following the first series was fantastic. In fact, some of the stories featured in the new series came directly from those who got in touch and it’s great hearing people say they’ve visited a place they weren’t aware of until they saw it in one of the programmes. I’m looking forward to bringing viewers along on some more great railway journeys in this series. I’ve really enjoyed getting the chance to visit so many of our hidden historical railway gems and to bring them to life once more.”
The new three-part series of Walk The Line starts on Monday 07 September at 7.30pm.