STAR attraction at the Churnet Valley Railway’s annual Winter Steam Gala (Feb 23-24) will be Scottish tank locomotive no.419.
Designed by JF Mcintosh and built by the Caledonian Railway at St Rollox Works, Glasgow, in 1907, the loco is the flagship of the Scottish Railway Preservation Society.
The loco was one of the Caledonian Railway 439 class, which totalled 92 engines built between 1900 and 1925, almost all of them at St Rollox works. They saw duty all over the Caledonian system, on suburban passenger trains, branch line work, train banking duties and shunting.
Following the formation of the London Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS) in 1923, the locomotive became no 15189 and its Caledonian Railway blue livery gave way to a more sombre black. Its home depot became Ardrossan and later Edinburgh Dalry Road.
The 1948 nationalisation of the railways brought the locomotive a change of number to 55189 and the legend British Railways on the tank sides.
Line closures in the Edinburgh suburbs, caused the loco to be transferred back to Polmadie, from which depot it performed on empty stock duties between Glasgow Central and Larkfield carriage sidings from 1952-59, plus the occasional dash round the Cathcart Circle or sortie to darkest Lanarkshire.
The loco’s working life ended on humdrum pilot duties at Carstairs, where it was based until withdrawn from service in December 1962, along with 200 other steam engines in Scotland.
A Churnet Valley Railway spokesman said: “The opportunity has now arisen that will see the 419 train operate away from her Scottish home for the first time in two generations, as she takes her place as the headline star at the CVR popular gala event.”
This year’s gala on the CVR will see a range of services running on the 10-mile stretch of line served by stations at Cheddleton, Consall and Froghall, as well as the Cauldon Lowe branch line.