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Roving and antiquity in Scotland 1961

A group of we West London 16 year-olds decided on a week’s Rail Rover in Scotland that August. Wishing to get the most out of it, we set off from London Euston after midnight and arrived at our first stop Crewe before dawn. The trip was a mixture of spotting, railway photography and touring. We went round Crewe (Gresty Lane) shed just as dawn was breaking. My primitive Brownie camera didn’t have flash so the new film stayed unused until later in the day. The first shot of a “Jinty” 47467 with “Midday Scot” chalked on the tank was a good start.

Then on, steam-hauled over Shap, to Carlisle where we rushed around a couple of sheds before an evening meal and made plans for a brief night’s fitful sleep on a Carlisle to Stranraer service on the now closed Dumfries – Castle Douglas – Newton Stewart route. Motive power and very welcome steam heating was provided by a “Black Five”. On arrival at Stranraer there was a frost on the ground: it was our summer holiday after all! But we pressed on to the engine shed at dawn and our group saw its first locomotive with a five-figure number starting with a ‘5’. And what a find – former Caledonian Railway class 294 0-6-0 designed by Dugald Drummond and built at St Rollox Works in 1892. This old lady was retired the following year after 70 years’ service.

Our itinerary was decided by the timetable, and later that day we found ourselves at Ardrossan. Here was more antiquity in the shape of North British Railway 0-6-0 65214 built at Cowlairs in 1890. This veteran lasted two more years and was cut up at Troon after 73 years’ service. One of this J36 class, 65243 “Maude” spent time in the National Railway Museum at York, is now stored at Bo’Ness and may yet steam again.

Some miles and engine sheds later we arrived at Kipps shed at Coatbridge, Lanarkshire. One locomotive there really stood out. This was a Neilson-designed North British Railway dock shunter 68117 built at Cowlairs. Later put into the LNER Y9 class, this old lady had started work in 1897. She had worked with a loose-coupled wooden tender until 1944 when central drawgear was fitted. Coal capacity was just 18cwt for her delicate appetite. She was withdrawn the following year, but one of the type, 68095, is on static display at Bo’Ness. This class was fitted for dock work at Leith and elsewhere with wooden dumb buffers covered with a metal plate.

All photos: Mike Peart

It’s probably true to say that subsequent photos and spottings that week related to more middle-aged Scottish motive power. But these examples show that good engineering, maintenance and handling are a vital aid to survival.

Mike Peart

Read about the author here

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