St. Machan came over from Ireland in the latter half of the 6th Century. He was of a solitary turn of mind and lived alone in a cave on the mountain. Nevertheless he became a legendary figure, and people came to him from far and near. Even after his death his cave remained a place of pilgrimage, and it is still something of a national shrine.
A church dedicated to him was built at the foot of the mountain in the 11th Century, on the foundations of one still older, and a hospice for pilgrims was erected nearby in the 12th Century, staffed by brothers from Cronk Abbey. A village grew up around them. The hospice is now an hotel, but the proprietor is glad to show the oldest parts of his premises to interested visitors, and explain their former use.
The station at Kirk Machan is the property and headquarters of the Culdee Fell Railway, and was opened in 1900. It is in the form of a square-based 'U', but the eastern, or outer face of the arrival platform has, since 1923, been rented by the North Western Railway for the use of their branch line trains. The Booking Office, Waiting and Refreshment Rooms occupy the base of the 'U'. The Mountain Railway trains use the inside faces of both platforms with departures from the western one, and arrivals at the eastern. Between these two roads, a siding has been laid to allow a relief train to stand by. The mountain railway closes down from Michaelmas to Easter, and the station is then unstaffed; but a Staff of at least six are needed to cope with the traffic on both railways during the Summer. The NWR has laid in a passing loop which is pressed into service at busy times. On its way northward the Branch has to swing eastward to avoid the mountain railway’s workshops.
The king points are a short distance north of the station, and are controlled from a ground frame on the Up platform. The main, or mountain line, goesstraight ahead while that to the Yard swings right to the Carriage Shed, Engine Shed and Workshops.
Traffic exchange of light goods and parcels is normally done at the passenger platform, but an exchange siding has also been provided north of the mountain railway’s Works. Here the 2‘7 ½” gauge rails lie alongside a siding from the NWR branch so that locomotives and other weighty equipment can be transferred conveniently.
- Its Snowdon Mountain Railway equivalent is Llanberis.