IT is one of the most spectacular railway lines in the world, made even more famous by Harry Potter and the spectacular Glenfinnan Viaduct.

Now a new TV documentary on New Year’s Eve reveals newly discovered photos taken during the construction of the railway line between Fort William and Mallaig.

The collection of over 100 high-res celluloid nitrate plates were unearthed in a sale in Cornwall in 2019.

Local musician Ingrid Henderson follows the story of these photographs, what they reveal about lives and people in Lochaber, and attempts to discover the artist behind the lens.

At the same time she creates new music to pay tribute to the railway and the people who built it. For Ingrid, born in Mallaig, brought up in Fort William and now living and working in Glenfinnan, the railway has always been present in her life.

In the BBC Alba programme, which is called Song of the Track/Ceol na Loidhne, Ingrid travels the line stopping at stations along the route to find the places in the photographs, and looks for inspiration to compose a new album.

Producer Annie Cheape, said: “This previously unpublished original source material features over 100 images of the build project led by contractors Robert McAlpine and Sons, and includes the renowned Glenfinnan Viaduct.

“Along with construction they document the people working on the railway, and the dangerous conditions they encountered.

“These images reveal the faces of the nurses who tended the injured in the make-shift field hospitals. Hundreds of men died to drive this section of the railway through one of the roughest terrains in Britain.

“Many hundreds were injured while blasting through the rocks, most of them navies from Ireland or the Scottish islands.

“Many men were injured during the rock blasting, but alcohol was a huge problem too. Men died of hypothermia after drinking too much, or had accidents on Monday morning while still under the influence. As a result, McAlpine set up an innovative scheme of licensed drinking huts with safe whisky.

“These images also reveal the faces of the nurses who tended the injured in the make-shift field hospitals. They are smiling, look relaxed, happy and enjoying themselves. It’s unusual to see women of this period photographed in this informal way.”

With the help of the Lochaber Archive Centre, Ingrid attempts to find the names of some of these women. She also visits Hege Hernes who lives at Glenfinnan Station, who reveals evidence to suggest that the photos were taken by Tom Malcolm McAlpine, one of Robert MacAlpine’s sons.

He was a manager of a section of the line where one of the men was badly injured during concrete blasting, and some of the photographs document his recuperation.

The film’s timing is particularly magical.

The line’s popular steam-hauled Jacobite train – the Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter films – is to run seven days a week for its entire seven-month season next year.

The service between Fort William and Mallaig has only operated from Monday to Saturday for much of the season in previous years, with some whole weekends at the end of the season.

But such is the demand for seats that it will also run on Sundays from Easter until the end of October next year.

For much of the new season there will be two trains a day – one in the morning and the other in the afternoon.

This summer, because of Covid, the train did not stop as normal at Glenfinnan and Arisaig stations.

The operators will make a decision later about what will happen next year.

Tickets will cost £46 return in standard class, and £69 in first class, for adults. Children will pay £48 or £28.

The Jacobite route over the spectacular Glenfinnan Viaduct is regularly voted one of the world’s greatest railway journeys.

And it became even more famous when the steam train starred as the Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter movies.

The train normally only operates during the summer, but the start was delayed this year because of Covid-19.

British Transport Police have in the past warned that fans are risking death by wandering on to the railway line to take photographs on The Jacobiite.

In 2015, a couple and their child were among those were seen running on the railway line.

Filming of 2002’s Harry Potter and the Chambers of Secrets and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, released in 2004, took place at Glenfinnan.

Fans gather on a hillside near the Glenfinnan Viaduct to catch a glimpse of the “Hogwarts Express”.

In real-life, the Express is the Jacobite steam train.

The steam train crosses the railway viaduct on its journeys on an 84-mile round trip along the West Highland Line.

In peak season around 2,000 Harry Potter-mad visitors a day flock to the village.

The locomotive used to pull the Hogwarts Express in the films, the GWR 4900 Class 5972 Olton Hall, is presently located at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London - The Making of Harry Potter

*Sgeul Media made Song of the Track/Ceol na Loidhne for BBC ALBA and it airs on Thursday, December 31 tomorrow at 9pm