Athlone GS&WR




Brian Haworth

xWhite (Shannon) Bridge

Updated: 16/01/2015








The railway station at Athlone serves the town of Athlone

in County Roscommom and County Westmeath.


The current station is situated at the junction of the

Dublin / Galway and the Dublin / Westport lines.


The mothballed Midland Great Western line

also runs into Athlone

but to a station on the other bank of the Shannon.


The Midland Great Western Railway arrived in Athlone in 1851,

and built its impressive station on the west bank of the River Shannon.


The station, which still stands, but out-of-use,

is a fine example of early Irish Railway architecture.


Designed by JS Mulvany (who also designed Dublin Broadstone station)

the first train ran into the station on 1 August 1851,


and the last on 13 January 1985.



The Great Southern and Western Railway arrived in Athlone a few years later

and built its station on the east bank of the River Shannon.


This station was designed by George Wilkinson and opened in 1859.

Both stations operated independently until they were merged in 1925.



Following the merger, the GS &WR station became a goods-only station,

and the M&GWR station took over all passenger services.


The M&GWR station closed on the 13 January 1985,


and all services were transferred to the GS&WR station,

which had been comprehensively renovated.



The WHITE BRIDGE x (Shannon Bridge)


This beautiful and graceful bridge, built in 1850,

spans the River Shannon.


In the centre is an opening span of 120 feet, which is now no longer used.


It is described in an official M&GWR guide thus:


”The construction is on the bowstring and lattice principle.


It is made entirely of iron, supported by twelve cylindrical piers,


and is 560 feet in extreme length, including two spans over roads

on either side of the River Shannon.


It consists of two spans including two of forty feet each,

the latter supported by a pier, formed by four cylinders,

supporting a swivel, which admits of the navigation of the adjacent opens."


The engineer GW Hemans and the contractors Fox and Henderson

incredibly built the bridge in under eighteen months.


The steel girders used in construction were shipped to Limerick,

and then delivered to the construction site by barge on the River Shannon.











The original Great Southern and Western Railway Station

built in 1859, closed in 1925,

and re-opened after restoration in 1985


as Athlone Railway Station.












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GM Class 071 083 built by General Motors in 1976

stands at Athlone station


in charge of a container train during August 2011.


The crew await the arrival of the opposite working

and change crews prior to departure.


Note the reduced height of the containers sat on low well-wagons.



Cab view of GM Class 071, no 083.





















General view of Athlone station

looking towards the River Shannon and the White Bridge










Like many Irish stations, the staff are proud of their railway heritage,

and this fine display can be found above the entrance to the station subway.









Another view of GM Class 071, no 083












A busy platform at Athlone

as class 220 212 arrives with a service from Dublin












The graceful White Bridge

viewed from the road bridge over the River Shannon












Another view of the White Bridge

from the west bank of the River Shannon












Close up of the west arch

showing the neat lines of the bridge and the riveted construction












The view underneath the bridge


Note the large cast pillars












Another view looking across to the east bank












An old sign pointing the way to the now closed MGWR station.












The impressive but now sadly closed Midland Great Western Station at Athlone












A River Class 201 GM diesel rolls across the White Bridge

with a container working.


The crew, who brought in the class 071, no 083, will be in charge,

having changed duties at Athlone station.












A three-car dmu heads out across the White Bridge,

its smart livery contrasting well with its surroundings























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