THE BLACKROCK LINE: New Cafe on long established Greenway

2 December 2020
By Tom Collins
tom@TheCork.ie

“In previous eras, the Steam Train brought economic riches to communities along its line. These days it is the lycra-clad cyclists and their bipedal counterparts who bring their wallets along the same lines! Railways have closed, but the good news is that pedestrians and cyclists now enjoy the straight paths, and gradual slopes left behind by former trackways”

“Having the benefit of views of the River Lee/Cork Harbour, and being positioned on a popular walkway, a Cafe in the old Rochestown Railway Station Building would certainly have a recipe for success”

The ‘Cork, Blackrock and Passage Railway’ closed in 1932. It was a narrow-gauge line being just 3ft (914mm) in width.

Since its closure, the Blackrock-Passage West Railway Line has been a walkway/cycleway. It stretches from the Marina in Cork City, through the leafy suburb of Blackrock, past Harty’s Quay, then into the less pricey Passage West.

In the present era (2020) a wave of enthusiasm for ‘Greenways’ is sweeping across Ireland. ‘Greenway’ is a branding term for former Railways turned into walkways (Cyclists are also welcome, but the two sometimes clash due to differences in speed).

In previous eras, the Steam Train brought economic riches to communities along its line. These days it is the lycra-clad cyclists and their bipedal counterparts who bring their wallets along the same lines. Railways have closed, but the good news is that pedestrians and cyclists now enjoy the straight paths, and gradual slopes (stream trains did not handle hills well) left by tbr former trackways.

The Waterford Greenway is Ireland’s most celebrated example of the ‘if you build it they will come’ Greenway. It has helped the coffers of Hotels, B&B’s, and created new businesses such as bike rental. Arguably the most direct beneficiary of Greenway visitors are Cafes. Walking makes you thirsty and/or hungry!

Here in Cork, an enterprising businessperson is in the “pre-planning” stage with Cork City Council with a view to opening a Cafe in the former Rochestown Railway Station. The edifice is located in an upmarket area, being on the Passage West side of the Harty’s Quay apartments (a residential development so upmarket that blue blood Fine Gael TD Simon Coveney used to own an apartment there).

The Rochestown Railway Station has been boarded up for years so its beauty has been hidden. It has the elegant proportions of a building from a bygone era.

Here’s what you can currently see from ground level:

The platform next to the long boarded up Rochestown Railway Station is easily accessible, what’s exciting is the prospect of the Station itself being opened up as a Cafe. Photo by Robert Ashby and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence https://www.geograph.ie/photo/3675638
The walkway snakes to the Left, so potential customers pass by the door of the Railway Station

Google Maps provides a birds-eye view:

Google Streetview shows the derelict frontage:

But all this could change. According to PropertyPriceRegister.ie site the ‘Station House, Rochestown Road’ changed hands in 21/12/2018.

Historic Photos show what the building used to look like. This one shows how close it is to the shoreline (front of picture)
Having the benefit of views of the River Lee/Cork Harbour, and being positioned on a popular walkway, a Cafe in the old Rochestown Railway Station Building would certainly have a recipe for success

Fine Gael Cork City Cllr Des Cahill is enthusiastic about upgrades to the walkway, including the Cafe proposal

Cork City Council have a project team which will perform engineering and environmental surveys in Q1 2021. The team will consider a multitude of upgrades to the existing walkway. Their findings will be converted into a list of options to find the best design solution for upgrades to this ever popular walkway. The Cafe (if it opens) will be one element of a revitalisation of this walkway.

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