16/11/2020 – Glenfinnan Viaduct & the 102nd Anniversary of Armistice Day


Glenfinnan Viaduct was bathed in stunning red light to mark the 102nd anniversary of Armistice Day, on the evening of 11 November 2020.

A wonderful tribute to the brave men and women who fought for our country, the event was coordinated by The Stage Group in conjuction with Network Rail, between 19:00 and 21:00.  The 1815 Mallaig-Fort William ScotRail service crossed shortly after the start.

Alex Hynes, managing director of ScotRail, said: “The railway played a key role in both world wars, helping to move personnel and materials around the country and each year our major stations fall silent on 11 November, as we remember the sacrifices made for the freedom we all enjoy today. “This year we have seen an Armistice Day like no other and, with large events no longer appropriate, we still wanted to pay a public tribute by lighting up Glenfinnan viaduct, with its global profile and links to World War Two.”

The 21-arch viaduct was constructed by Sir Robert McAlpine in 1898, on the Fort William-Mallaig line.  Famous the world over, it was previously lit up in blue in April of this year, as the country rallied to show support for the National Health Service (NHS) and all key workers during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Gordon Michie, head of fundraising at PoppyScotland, was proud of last week’s illumination. He said: “To have such an iconic structure join more than 120 other landmarks across Scotland as part of our Light Up Red initiative is wonderful. The Glenfinnan viaduct is one of the most recognisable places in the country. To have it bathed in poppy red is an amazing tribute to the fallen and will also help shine a light on the challenges that so many in our Armed Forces community still face today. Our sincere thanks go to Network Rail for their continued support. As this year’s Scottish Poppy Appeal reaches its conclusion, we hope this will remind the public that the need to support our veterans does not end today. The work of PoppyScotland continues all year round and, with their continued support, we can show our Armed Forces community that we are behind them, always.”

The West Highland Mallaig Extension was famously a ‘no go’ travel area during World War Two, as the remote countryside was used by the Special Operations Executive (SOE) for commando training and other top-secret activities.  Travellers required special authority to gain access.  The war efforts also resulted in a lot of freight traffic for the railway.  Extra freight loops and sidings were built around Fort William and Corpach to aid capacity. The West Highland main line south of Fort William also saw increased wartime freight during WW2.  Most well-known was the opening of the (now-closed) branch line to Faslane naval base.

NOTE: The lighting of Glenfinnan viaduct was undertaken following clear social distancing rules and did not involve any unnecessary travel.

Gordon Webster 15/11/2020