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St. Johnís Siding Enniscorthy

S. & A.G. Davis Ltd.


with additional material from MICHAEL WALSH,


The former grain mill at St. Johnís, on the south bank of the River Urrin immediately south of Enniscorthy town, is understood to date from 1885, and to have replaced or incorporated features from an earlier water mill of 1858 on the same site.[1] A weir on the Urrin upstream of the mill site provided the required flow of water for this water mill. The Urrin also provided access to the mills from the larger River Slaney for small vessels.

St. Johnís Siding, serving the mill of the same name of Messrs Samuel and Abraham G Davis, was located at MP 78Ĺ on the Enniscorthy to Wexford line, on the banks of the river Slaney approximately 1 mile south of Enniscorthy.

The siding was constructed as part of a Ďbarter dealí proposed in November 1869 for the DW&WR extension south of Enniscorthy. Messrs S & AG Davis offered for forego a claim for compensation for the railway to traverse their lands at St Johnís in exchange for the provision of a siding to their mill.[2] Thomas Edwards, the contractor for the Wexford extension, would undoubtedly have constructed the sidings as part of his contract with the DW&WR. The rails used for the siding at St. Johnís were those from a short branch that had been installed at Sroughmore (between Rathdrum and Avoca) in 1865 to serve the Connorree Mining Company, but which had ceased to be used in 1869.[3]

The opening date for the St. Johnís Siding has generally been given as 1873[4], but Gerald Beesley believes it to be pretty certain that the Ďofficialí opening date of St Johnís siding would have been 17 August 1872, the same as that for the whole extension to Wexford (Carcur), half a mile short of the present-day Wexford station, opened in 1874. However, it is just possible that some wagon movements may have occurred between Enniscorthy and St. Johnís once the Enniscorthy tunnel had been completed.

The siding trailed in by a crossover from the Up side. A ground frame, released by a key on the section train staff, not only operated the connecting points to St. Johnís siding but also controlled Up and Down signals interlocked with the points. At least in GSR days, the headshunt of the siding, alongside the main line, was used by a Mr Kavanagh for handling cement, tiles and general traffic, for which a loading bank was provided.[5] This bank does not however appear in the earlier maps from the 1900s.

The Kavanaghs were a successful local business family, who lived in St. Johnís House, approximately Ĺ mile south of the Mill. In recent years, the house became a hotel, under the name St. Johnís Manor, but this subsequently went out of business. Military training in ďKavanaghís fieldĒ at St. Johnís is recalled in material from the Bureau of Military History.[6]

Also on the St. Johnís site was a foundry, established by Thomas Jessop Davis, which is believed to have remained in operation until the early 1960s. Local manhole covers and other cast iron items are understood to still bear the Jessop Davis or St. Johnís Foundry mark.[7]

At St. Johnís Mill, several tracks facilitated the intake of raw materials Ė grain and other ingredients for the production, plus coal for the boiler house. This provided power and heating including grain drying. Later, coal was replaced by fuel oil. Dispatch of finished goods in the early days was by rail, later replaced by road transport, first by steam lorry and then by diesel lorries. Most of the trade was to local and county areas.

Ordnance Survey maps from the early 1900s show three parallel loop tracks, the southernmost of which, along with a northward-extending stub, appears to have served the Foundry. In a drawing of 10 May 1956 stamped by the District Engineerís Office in Waterford, the Foundry loop and stub are no longer shown. This 1956 drawing indicated the intention to remove the remaining loop track and to bury the longer stub track extending between the warehouse and the Mill to the bank of the Urrin. It is not at present known whether this final alteration was carried out.

 At this period, wagons with bagged ingredients were off-loaded into the warehouse. Those containing bagged grain were placed on the adjacent siding, where the contents were tipped into an intake hopper, which brought the grain across to the grain storage area. This wagon handling was achieved by using a powered capstan and ropes for moving the wagons along the tracks and from one line to another. Sometimes wagons were placed on the track down the mill yard at a discharge point at a location originally used for unloading bagged grain delivered by sailing barges known as cotts from coastal shipping on Wexford Quays.

Most of the grain delivered by rail was collected from the grain silos of R & H Hall in Waterford and came via New Ross and Macmine Junction. Consignments of up to 300-400 tons of animal feed ingredients were not uncommon and would mean 40-50 wagons being delivered into the mill yard.

Wagons for the Mill were sorted and assembled in Enniscorthy station and then delivered to the sidings by the Enniscorthy pilot engine. At one time, up to three trips per day could be required, involving the movement of up to 50 wagons of flour.[8]

The goods trains listed in the June 1955 WTT (Working Timetable) make interesting reading. The 03:20 goods from North Wall reached Enniscorthy at 14:50 hauled by a steam locomotive of Load Group E. At 15:40, a mixed train left for Wexford with only a brief stop at Macmine Junction. This mixed train, mainly for school traffic, returned at 18:15 from Wexford. A steam locomotive of Load Group C was booked for the 20:40 Up night goods from Wexford to North Wall. It called at Macmine from 21:10 until 21:50, taking a connection from the 17:45 goods from Waterford, which was allowed 1 hour for shunting at Macmine. These North Wexford goods trains were worked by steam locomotives of Load Group J. The 21:20 Down night goods (Load Group C) from North Wall reached Enniscorthy at 04:09 and at Macmine made connection with the 04:45 goods from Wexford to Waterford, so Macmine was busy between 05:00 and 06:05. The final goods train to mention is the 07:15 from Enniscorthy to North Wall worked by a locomotive of load class E, as in the Down direction. From all the above, it is possible to see that the pilot engine at Enniscorthy was in action from 05:45 until 14:45 and from 19:30 to 24:00. It was possible that the pilot engine would visit St. Johnís siding during the early shift while wagons to and from Waterford would be worked via Macmine on the Up and Down night goods and the North Wexford goods trains. There were two drivers based in Enniscorthy: Watty Millar and Prendergast.

Load Class E locomotives included:-

623 (J5) Class 0-6-0 (former MGWR)

442 (J8) Class 0-6-0 (former D&SER)

249 (J9) Class 0-6-0 (former GS&WR)

Load Class C locomotives included:-

257 (J4) Class 0-6-0 (former GS&WR)

461 (K2) 2-6-0 (former D&SER)

355 (K3) Class 2-6-0 (former GS&WR)

368 (K4) Class 2-6-0 (former GS&WR)

The J8 included No. 444, former D&SER No. 18 named Enniscorthy. The 23-strong fleet of J5 locomotives worked mainly on the Midland.

It is important to note that the inclusion of a particular Locomotive Class in a Load Group does not mean that all locomotives of that Class could be used on any particular route. David Houston points out that the J5 Class were prohibited from operating south of Dķn Laoghaire. David also advises that there is no evidence of the K3 or K4 Classes having worked on the South Eastern. In practice, the Load Group C engines on the Down and Up Wexford night goods would have been Nos. 461 and 462, and other former D&SER engines of Load Group E would have seen service on the Enniscorthy goods.

In May 1956, to use the language of the CI… weekly circular, diesel-electric locomotive links were introduced on the D&SE. The 03:30 Down goods would form the 19:30 Light Engine to Wexford to work the Up night goods at 20:45. Similarly a DE light engine would leave Wexford at 06:15 (not in the WTT) to work the 07:15 goods to North Wall.

The North Wexford between New Ross and Macmine was closed completely with effect from Monday 1 April 1963, thereby severing the route from Waterford, and closure of St. Johnís Siding followed in 1965. So far as is known, no passenger train ever operated onto the Siding.[9]

That is the story of St. Johnís Siding at Enniscorthy. There were many other private sidings in the area and it is hoped to cover these in another forthcoming article. Many thanks to Ernie Shepherd and Barry Carse for their help.

[2] Ernie Shepherd and Gerry Beesley, Dublin & South Eastern Railway (Midland Publishing Limited, 1998), 21.

[3] Ibid, 21, 67.

[4] Ibid, 21,

[5] Ibid, 72, 117.




[8] Ernie Shepherd and Gerry Beesley, Dublin & South Eastern Railway (Midland Publishing Limited, 1998), 72, 117.

[9] Tom Wall, IRRS Outings, (IRRS unpublished).

The remainder of this article appears in IRRS Journal number 192, published February 2017

Copyright © 2017 by Irish Railway Record Society Ltd.
Revised: August 22, 2017 .