Stevenson started construction on the Railways on May
29, 1808. The first consignment of cast-iron rails arrived
from Shotts Iron Works in the "Smeaton". Aboard
were several mill-wrights and joiners who would be employed
in fitting them up.
During the building of the Lighthouse, the Railway completely
encircled the site (measuring 55 feet in diameter). Additional
spurs led off to landing sites (or wharfs) at suitable areas
of the House Rock. The Eastern section (to Rae's Wharf,
approx. 100 feet) was completed first.
By May 24, 1809, the Railways formed two-third of an entire
circle round the building, and progress had been made towards
the western landing place which, when completed, extended
290 feet. They were finished by July 1810.
A full plan of these tracks (temporary and permanent) may
be seen in the Map.
Due to the heavy seas, and especially after storms, they
had to be continually repaired, so Stevenson had them rebuilt
and strengthened between the years of 1815-1819. They were
made at the Shotts Irons Works in Central Scotland.
The trackway was supported on cast-iron props and frames
which on average were raised between 6 inches (15 cms) and
5 ft (150 cms), according to the unevenness of the rock.
The track width (or gauge), according to Stevenson's "Account"
was 2 ft 6 in (or about 76 cms). The waggons or bogies (each
weighting 2 tons) were run on four cast-iron wheels, each
wheel with a diameter of 1 ft 2 in (36 cms).
The following text is taken direct from Stevenson's
Fig. 13 - "is a longitudinal view of one length
of the cast-iron railways erected upon the Rock; a
a a a represent the stools or upright supports,
b b are the tracks of the roadway, c
c one of the side stays or braces."
Fig. 14 - "is a cross section
on the line AB of Fig. 15, in which a a is the support with
its cross-brace f, bolted at g g g g;
b b are the railway tracks, c c c c,
the stays, with their connecting bolts on each side, d
d the sleeper or horizontal brace connecting the
top of the stools, and forming a chair or seat for the rails
and grated roadway; e e e e represent the
batts and spear-bolts, with which the whole was connected
to the Rock, by the process of wedging with timber and iron".
Fig. 15 - "is a plan of the finished
railway; a a a a are the feet of the stools,
b b the side rails or wagon-tracks, c
c the stays or side braces, d d the
sleepers, and h h the grated footpath. The
weight of a yard in length of the railways complete, of
the height of four feet, as presented in these diagram,
may be estimated about 5 cwt".
16 - "represents a plan of one of the railway waggons;
a is the iron handle made to hook upon either end of the
waggon, so as to prevent the necessity of turning it; b
b is the body of the wagon, consisting of two pieces
of oak timber, bolted upon the upper part of the double
frame intended for accommodating the wheels to the circular
track of the railway round the building. The upper and under
frames are connected with the bolt c c, so
as to admit of the movement above alluded to. For trucks
or wheels e e e e were of cast-iron, measuring
15 inches in diameter. These wagons were always left uon
the Rock, being simply turned upside down, or off their
wheels, in a particular part, and were seldom moved by the
sea, as they weighed about 2 cwt each".
1815 - "Though the temporary railways originally
fitted up for the building operations had been thoroughly
repaired, they were often found such in disorder, and required
a still stronger mode of construction. In the course of
this summer, therefore, part of the western-reach of the
new or permanent railway was fitted up".
1819 - "Permanent railways completed - In the
course of the summer of 1819, Mr James Slight, and his brother
Alexander (who had assisted throughout the works in making
moulds for the stone-cutters, and in other operations requiring
neat and ingenious workmanship), together with Messrs George
Dove, Robert Selkirk, James Glen, James Scott, Alexander
Brebner, and John Mitchell, completed the remaining parts
of the western and southern-reaches of the railways, by
the addition of a number of large cast-iron stays or braces,
as shown in drawings above. The bats of these new railways
were wedged with timber and iron in the usual manner, and
the feet of the supports, with their bats and spear-bolts,
were plastered over with Roman-cement, with a view to secure
them against the effects of oxidation".