Great North of Scotland Railway

The Great North of Scotland Railway was established to connect Aberdeen with Inverness, a target which it never reached due to the hostility of the Highland Railway based in Inverness. Furthermore, this impoverished railway built a penetrating line deep into GNSR territory to reach Keith. Between Aberdeen and Lossiemouth (its furthest point from Aberdeen) the GNSR built a series of lines surving North East Scotland from the fishing ports of Fraserburgh and Peterhead to the distilleries of Speyside. A separate line (originally entirely separate with its own locomotives: the Deeside Railway) reached Ballater and was used by the Royal Family to reach Braemar. The main station in Aberdeen was owned jointly by the GNSR and the Caledonian Railway (the North British Railway merely had access to it over the CR). Very little of the GNSR remains other than the mainline to Keith and the main station in Aberdeen. Surprisingly, one of its typical locomotives (a 4-4-0) has been preserved.

Therre are two major histories of the Company, the more recent (less old might be more appropriate) of which (by Vallance) failed to acknowledge the earlier work by Barclay-Harvey..

D.K. Clark
Ruthven's tenure
Cowan 43 class C class
Manson A class N class (built Kittybrewster) 0-6-0T tablet exchange app.
Johnson 4-4-0 S class 0-4-4T (R class)
Pickersgill V class railcars Inverurie Works
Heywood F class X class 0-4-2T livery

Key sources

Barclay-Harvey, M. A history of the Great North of Scotland Railway. London: Locomotive Publishing Co., 2nd ed., 1949. 231 p.+ col. front + 33 plates (incl. 1 folding). 47 illus., 1 diagr. 5 tables., 2 maps.
Dunbar, A.G. The Centenary of the Great North of Scotland Railway. Trains ill., 1954, 7, 414-19. 7 illus. .
Great North of Scotland Railway, 1854-1954. J. Stephenson Loco. Soc 1954, 30, 277-320.26 illus., map, table.
Hobday, L.M. The Great North of Scotland Railway. Rly Obsr, 1937, 9, 327-8; 365-7. illus., table.
Briefer than some of the other references.
Vallance, H.A. The Great North of Scotland Railway. Dawlish: David & Charles, 1965. 192 p. + col. front. + 20 plates. 71 illus.,2 plans, 2 maps.

Daniel Kinnear Clark: 1853-1855

In October 1853, Daniel Kinnear Clark was appointed superintendent of the locomotive works at Kittybrewster, then under construction.

2-4-0 Fairbairn

For the opening of the railway to Huntly, Clark designed, and William Fairbairn & Sons, of Manchester, constructed, twelve 2-4-0 tender engines, with outside cylinders 15 in. diameter by 20 in. stroke. The heating surface was 808 sq. ft. The fireboxes were raised, and were surmounted by large brass domes, with inverted bell mouths. Spring safety valves of the Salter type were mounted on the domes. The chimneys were fitted with copper caps. The design was characterised by its simplicity, and the engines were not provided with sanding gear, nor was any protection from the weather afforded to the driver and fireman. The weight in working order was 23¾ tons. Illustrated (Plate 45) in Clark's Railway locomotives (1860)..

Nos. 1 to 7 were intended for passenger traffic, and had 3 ft 6 in. leading wheels, and 5 ft 6 in. coupled wheels. The remaining five, described as goods engines, were generally similar, but had 5 ft driving wheels. They had originally been designed as six-coupled engines, but had been altered to 2-4-0s, to enable them to undertake mixed-traffic duties. See: Jackson, R. On the Great North of Scotland [letter]. Backtrack, 1997, 11, 332.See 11-332: article on GNSR engines correctly states that the company never owned any 0-6-0 tender engines, but goods engines ordered for opening in 1854 should have been 0-6-0s as Board considered six-coupled engines better for goods work. When they failed to be delivered on time, Messrs. Fairbaim's excuse was that the design had been altered. It tumed out that D.K. Clark, the company's Locomotive Superintendent, had changed them to 2-4-0s without telling anybody. As it was then too late to change them, the directors were not best pleased!

The tenders of both classes ran on four wheels, with outside bearings, and were of limited capacity. They were fitted with the only brake power available on the engines—wooden blocks, operated by a hand wheel.

Although the makers were repeatedly urged to deliver the locomotives in good time, only Nos. 1 to 6 had arrived by September 1854; and it was with this inadequate stock that the line to Huntly was opened. Within a few days, one engine had been severely damaged in the collision at Kittybrewster, and another had developed a mechanical defect. For the time being, the remaining four engines had to handle all traffic, both passenger and goods. No.7 had been delivered by the end of the year; but the goods engines (Nos. 8 to 12) were not completed until the summer of 1855.

By 1860, these locomotives had been provided with sandboxes, and front and rear weather boards. They were also fitted with Clark's smoke prevention system, a series of holes in the firebox for the admission of air, which was kept in circulation by means of steam jets. The use of this apparatus was continued on the Great North for many years.

Both classes were rebuilt, for the most part with small rounded cabs, of the Stirling pattern, in place of the front weather boards, in the early 1880s1, and were withdrawn from service some ten years later. Latterly they made way for new engines by having the letter A added to their numbers.

When new, these early engines were painted a medium shade of green, with black borders and bands, but without any lining. The buffer beams were painted red; and the numbers were painted on the splashers of the front pair of driving wheels.

Soon after the opening of the line to Huntly, Clark became involved in a dispute with the company. Residence in Aberdeen had been one of the conditions of his appointment, but he had never shown any intention of fulfilling this obligation. When the directors pressed the point, Clark replied that supervision at Kittybrewster could be carried out by a whole-time assistant, and that residence in the north of Scotland 'would be inimical to his advancement in his profession'. This refusal to observe his contract led to his resignation in March 1855. Clark's subsequent career as a consulting engineer was distinguished, and included several public appointments. He is also, widely known as the author of treatises on steam engines.

John Folds Ruthven: 1855-1857

Unfortunate sometime Locomotive Superintendent of the GNSR between the departure of D.K. Clark and his successor William Cowan. See Middlemass: The Scottish 4-4-0. Vallence claims that Ruthven remained closely associated with Clark following his own departure..

Clark was succeeded at Kittybrewster by his resident assistant, John Folds Ruthven, whose salary was fixed at £160 per annum (Barclay-Harvey). According to Vallence the new superintendent did not make any departures from his predecessor's practice, and the first two locomotives delivered after he had taken office had been designed by Clark.


The steeply-graded extension from Kittybrewster to the Waterloo Quay required banking engines; an order was placed with Beyer Peacock in the summer of 1855 for two small 0-4-0 tank engines, which were delivered in the next year, and numbered 13 and 14. They had 15 in. by 20 in. (Vallence) 24 (Barclay-Harvey) outside cylinders, 4 ft 6 in. wheels, and well tanks fixed between the frames, under the boilers. The raised fireboxes were fitted with Clark's smoke prevention apparatus, and were surmounted by brass domes with Salter-type safety valves. The weight in working order was 25 tons. Plates 37 and 38 of Clark's Railway locomotives illustrate this design in considerable detail. At first, the footplates were unprotected, but weather boards were provided a few years later, and cabs were added when the engines were reboilered in 1887 (under Manson). The domes were then moved forward to the middle of the boilers. In the course of nearly 60 years, these little engines did a vast amount of banking and shunting work at Aberdeen and elsewhere.

They were placed on the duplicate (A) list in 1890, when new engines bearing the same numbers appeared. During the latter part of their life (Barclay-Harvey) on the Great North they were used for shunting at Keith and Elgin and the Daluaine Distillery. and were eventually sold in 1915 (V)/1916 (Barclay-Harvey) to the government for war service. who used them at the Lenabo Aerodrome for a short time, but they were replaced there in 1917 by fireless engines. No. 13A went then to a munitions factory and No. 14A to the Chilwell (Notts) filling factory. From there it was sold to the Tareni Colliery Co., Ltd., Godregraig, near Pontardawe, Glamorganshire. The cylinders were then 16 inches in diameter and a spark arrester had been added. It was in use till about 1934 and was scrapped in 1943 at the age of eighty-seven years! At that time they were probably the oldest tank engines at work in the country.

In July, 1856, three more passenger engines similar to Nos. 1-7 were ordered from Messrs. Fairbairn at £2,200 each, and a fourth (costing £2,100) which was delivered in July 1857. Costs supplied BH, remainder V. These had 5 ft 6 in. coupled wheels and were numbered 15 to 18. The fireboxes were equipped with Clark's smoke prevention apparatus. The first three were delivered in time for the opening of the railway from Huntly to Keith. In common with the earlier series, these engines were provided with sanding gear and weather boards a few years after their construction, and were rebuilt, in most cases with the addition of cabs, between 1880 and 1885. Shortly afterwards, they were placed on the A list, and all had been withdrawn from service by the end of the century.

William Cowan: 1857-1883 .

According to Marshall Cowan was born in Edinburgh in 1823 and died in Aberdeen on 10 March 1898. Cowan had entered the locomotive department of the Arbroath & Forfar Railway in 1839, and had subsequently spent several years with the Edinburgh & Glasgow and the Great Northern Railway. In September 1854, he joined the locomotive department of the Great North, and became works manager a year later. Middlemass tells how in 1857 he switched places with J.V. Ruthven who had been appointed to succeed the brilliant, but wayward D.K. Clark, the original Locomotive Superintenemt of the GNSR. Middlemass describes how Cowan developed the 4-4-0 type for the GNSR and almost achieved the distinction of introducing the type to Britain. His designs had outside cylinders and four-wheel tenders and on the original engines the tender hand brake was the only form of brake power. Cowan, like many Scottish locomotive superintendents, appeared to have had an unhappy relationship with the railway's Board: Cowan had exceeded his mandate by ordering six 4-4-0s from Neilson & Co. The 4-4-0, but with inside cylinders, became the major source of motive power throughout the GNSR's existence. The RCTS Locomotives of the LNER Part 1 notes that following Cowan's resignation in 1883 he worked as a salesman for Krupps' steel tyres in Britain and the USA.

Middlemass, Tom: The Scottish 4-4-0.


The first locomotives designed by Cowan were nine 2-4-0s, built by Robert Stephenson & Co (WN 1281-1289 (Barclay-Harvey)). They were generally similar to the so-called goods engines of 1854, with 5 ft (V) 5ft 1in (Barclay-Harvey) coupled wheels, but had 16 in. by 20 in. (V) 22 in (Barclay-Harvey) outside cylinders, and were provided with Clark's smoke prevention apparatus, weather boards, and sanding gear from the start. The boilers were originally pressed to 120 psi, but later to 140 psi. They were the last 2-4-0s constructed for the Great North. The first six, numbered 19 to 24, were delivered in 1860, and the remainder (Nos. 25 to 27) in the next year. The whole series was rebuilt, with cabs in place of weather boards, between 1885 and 1895; and with the exception of No. 27, which retained its original number, had been transferred to the A list by the end of the century. No. 20 was withdrawn from service in 1900, and most of the others followed a few years later. No. 27 survived until 1909, by which time it had become the last 2-4-0 owned by the company.


28 class: 1862-

To provide additional locomotives for the rapidly expanding system, Cowan designed, and Robert Stephenson & Co. constructed, a series of nine 4-4-0 tender engines, with 16 in. by 22 in. outside cylinders, and 5 ft 1 in. coupled wheels. They were among the earliest of this type in Britain; and their wheel arrangement appears to have been determined by the sharp curves on the lines west of Keith. Originally, the leading wheels had outside bearings and springs, which gave them an unusual appearance. The boilers were 11 ft 4½ in. long by 3 ft 9 ¾ in. diameter. The heating surface was 956½ sq. ft, and the grate area 10½ sq. ft. Large bell-mouthed brass domes, and Salter-type safety valves, set to 140 psi., were mounted on the raised fireboxes. The weight of the engines in working order was 34½ tons, and the four-wheel tenders 15½ tons.

Barclay-Harvey provided Works Numbers:
28-30 1862 1290-1292
31-34 1863 1431-1434
35-36 1864 1435-1436

There was a boiler explosion on 13 September 1878 affecting No. 31whilst working the 15.00 train from Craigellachie to Boat of Garten when standing in Nethybridge Station. A cleaner who was on the footplate, was knocked unconscious by a piece of flying metal, but otherwise no one was seriously injured: see also Hewison Locomotive boiler explosions. pp.90-1. These engines had seams along the bottoms of their boilers and it was grooving along this seam which caused the accident. The Board of Trade inspector considered that the last test of the boiler had been insufficient, as it was only tested to 170 psi with cold water and the working pressure was then fixed at 140 psi: a higher pressure should have been used. After this, No. 31 out of service  for nearly two years, being given a new boiler in August, 1880, and the other engines were all similarly fitted by March, 1883. New bogies of a more modern type were fitted at the same time, but otherwise, they retained their early appearance, except for the addition of a cab. They were withdrawn between 1909 and 1920. Having adopted the 4-4-0 wheel arrangement the Great North never departed from it.

43 class: 1866-
Six outside cylinder 4-4-0s were built by Neilson in 1866, and numbered 43 to 48 (maker's numbers: 1182-1187 (Barclay-Harvey). Although appearance to the earlier class, they had larger boilers, and generally increased dimensions. The cylinders were 16 in. by 24 in., and the coupled wheels 5 ft 6½ in. The bogies had inside springs and bearings, and were centrally pivoted in a cast iron cup. They' were among the earliest in which provision was made for lateral play. The engines weighed 36 tons in working order, and the four-wheel tenders 15¼ tons. Boiler pressure was 140 psi.

All save two of these engines were provided with six-wheel tenders of increased capacity when the whole series was rebuilt, with the addition of cabs, between 1889 and 1891 under Johnson and Manson. The diameter of the cylinders was then increased to 17 in., and slightly larger boilers were fitted. The brass domes and Salter-type safeiy valves were retained, but were moved from the fireboxes to the middle of the boilers. The class was long-lived. Nos. 43 and 46 were withdrawn in 1921, after completing 55 years service. No. 47 went in the next year, but the remaining three passed to the LNER at the grouping. Shortly before it was scrapped, No. 45, the last survivor, hauled a train of old Great North coaches at the Railway Centenary Pageant at Darlington in July 1925. Nos. 45 to 48 had been relegated to the A list in 1920.

The delivery of this second series of 4-4-0s coincided with the financial crisis of 1866. So rigid were the economies imposed that no locomotive construction was sanctioned for the next ten years, while even then the position did not permit the complete relaxation of the emergency measures. Maintenance of locomotives was cut down to a minimum, with disastrous results at Nethybridge.

L class
Two years before this mishap, additional locomotives had become imperative, and six 4-4-0s, generally similar to, but somewhat larger than, those already in service, had been ordered from Neilson's. These were delivered in 1876. The Works Numbers were 2069 to 2074, and were numbered 49, 50, and 54 to 57. In the next year, No. 57 was renumbered 52, taking the number from one of the Deeside Railway engines withdrawn from service. The new class had 17 in. by 24 in. outside cylinders, and 5 ft 6 ½ in. coupled wheels. The boilers had a heating surface of 1,107 ft2, and a grate area of 14 ft2. The working pressure was 140 psi (V)/150 psi (HB). The engines weighed 39 tons, of which 25¼ tons was available for adhesion. These engines were the first on the Great North to be fitted with cabs at the time of their construction. The six-wheel tenders had outside springs, and weighed 27 tons.

M class
These additions did not fully meet the damands of steadily increasing traffic; and a further nine 4-4-0s were built by Neilson in 1878. They were numbered 40, 51, 53 (WN 2351-2353) and 57 to 62 (WN 2354-2359). The boilers and fireboxes were similar to those of the preceeding class, but the working pressure was raised to 150 psi and the size of the cylinders was increased to I7½ in. by 26 in. The diameter of the coupled wheels was 5 ft 7 in. Some modifications were introduced into the design of the cabs, and for the first time, rounded splashers were fitted to the rear driving wheels. The weight of the engines in working order was 39½ tons. The tenders, which ran on six wheels, had inside springs, and weighed 29 tons.

C class (LNER class D39)
In 1879, three more locomotives of this type, but with 6 ft 1in. driving wheels, were built by Neilson 's. They were numbered 1,2 and 3; and the older engines bearing these numbers were then relegated to the A list. Their Works Nos. were 2360-2362 (RCTS Locomotives of the LNER Part 4).

The whole of this series of 18 engines was rebuilt between 1896 and 1904 with larger boilers, and other minor alterations, which increased the weight of each class by some 3 tons. The old-fashioned bell-mouth brass domes were replaced by round-top domes, mounted on the centre of the boilers, and the Salter-type safety valves by enclosed Ramsbottom valves on the fireboxes. The appearance of the engines was further altered by the substitution of a newer and plainer design of chimney for the original copper-capped type. No. 52, which had been damaged in the derailment of a ballast train at Knock in July 1896, was rebuilt in the next year, with a square cab, with two side windows and a raised roof. This innovation became standard for all new engines two years later. Although relegated to secondary duties, all these engines survived until after the Grouping: thus RCTS Locomotives of the LNER Part 4 is a key source. In 1920 Nos. 49 to 54 had passed on to the A list.

During Cowan's last four years at Kittybrewster no new locomotives were ordered. In October 1883, he retired at the early age of 60. He continued to reside in Aberdeen until his death in March 1898.

For some time after his appointment, Cowan made almost no alteration in the painting of the locomotives, although a somewhat lighter shade of green was soon introduced. By 1866, however, more elaborate livery had been adopted. The locomotives were painted grass green, picked out with black bands, edged with red lines. The buffer beams and lamps were red. The large domes, the wide bands at each end of the boiler, and the beading round the splashers of the driving wheels, all of which were of polished brass, together with the copper-capped chimney, gave the engines a distinctly smart appearance. In 1876, oval number plates, with raised letters and figures, appeared on the sides of the cabs in place of the numbers painted on the splashers. For the time being they were used only on new engines, but were gradually fitted to the older types.

Between 1863 and 1866, the Great North took over the working of the Morayshire, the Banffshire and the Deeside Railways, all of which had locomotives of their own.

James Manson: 1883-1890

James Manson, manager at the Kilmarnock Works of the Glasgow & South Western Railway, succeeded Cowan. He returned to the GSWR in 1878, where he became successively locomotive inspector and works manager. The locomotives designed by Manson for the Great North differed considerably from those of his predecessors, particularly in external appearance. Without exception, they had inside cylinders. The display of polished brass disappeared from the boilers and splashers of the driving wheels. Round-topped cast iron domes, mounted on the centre of the boilers, were substituted for the bell-mouthed brass domes; and the Salter safety valves were replaced by open Ramsbottom valves on the fireboxes. Copper-capped chimneys were abandoned in favour of chimneys similar to those used by Patrick Stirling on the Great Northern Railway. Side doors were fitted to the cabs, an improvement that was subsequently extended to many of the older locomotives. Clark's smoke prevention apparatus was retained in a modified form, without steam jets.


A class: 1884 (LNER class D44)
The first locomotives embodying these alterations were six 4-4-0s, built by Kitson's (WN 2668-2673) in 1884, and numbered 63 to 68. These engines were slightly smaller than the final classes designed by Cowan. They had 17½ in. by 26 in. cylinders, and the diameter of the driving wheels was 6 ft. The heating surface was 1,036 ft2, and the working pressure 140 psi. The weight of the engines in working order was 37 tons 2 cwt. To permit longer non-stop runs, the tenders were larger than those previously used, and weighed 34 tons.

G class: 1885 (LNER class D48)
Three more locomotives of this type, but with 5 ft 6 in. driving wheels, were built by Kitson (WN 2838-2840). They were intended for mixed traffic duties, and were numbered 69 to 71.

N class:  1887: (LNER class D46)
The erecting shop at Kittybrewster could only hold four locomotives, but in 1887 two 4-4-0s were constructed, but Barclay-Harvey states that a lot of the work had to be done outside, but whether this was in the fresh air or with outside help is not stated. Lowe is far clearer: There is no doubt that the major parts were supplied by a locomotive building contractor probably Neilson & Co. or Kitson & Co. [and adds] Whether the saving in money approached £300 to £400, claimed to be possible by Manson, is doubtful and no others were built at Kittybrewater, after the two in 1887. These engines were similar to Manson's mixed traffic class, but the diameter of the driving wheels was 1 in. less. They were numbered 5 and 6, and named Kinmundy (Kinmundy was the chairman's patronymic. Kinmundy House, near Mintlaw) and Thomas Adam, in honour of the chairman and deputy chairman respectively. The names were painted straight across the splashers of the leading driving wheels, but were removed under Pickersgill. These engines were rebuilt between 1905 and 1917 with larger boilers, working at 150 psi, new chimneys and boiler mountings, and other alterations. In this form they survived until after the grouping. No. 65, one of the first to be rebuilt, was again reconstructed in 1920, and thus became unique among the locomotives of the Great North. In 1921 No. 71 was fitted with a Robinson superheater.

O class: 1888: LNER class D42
To meet the needs of the steadily increasing traffic and faster trains, Manson designed a further nine 4-4-0 locomotives, which were built by Kitson & Co. in 1888, and numbered 4 (3062), 7 (3063), 9 (3064), 10 (3050), 17 (3060), 18 (3061), and 72 to 74 (3065-3067). Outstanding features were the slide valves placed on top of the cylinders, and actuated by rocking shafts, and swinglink bogies, with double pins. The cylinders were 18 in. diameter by 26 in. stroke. The boilers, which were 4 ft 4 in. in diameter, carried a working pressure of 150 lb. per sq. in., and had a total heating surface of 1,200 sq. ft. The diameter of the driving wheels was 6 ft 0½ in., and of the bogie wheels 3 ft 9 in. The weight of the engines in working order was 42 tons, of which, 28 tons 18 cwt rested on the driving wheels. The tenders weighed 34 tons.

Class P: 1890: (LNER D43)
Three locomotives with 6 ft 0½ in. driving wheels were built by Robert Stephenson & Co., in 1890 (WN 2695-2697), and numbered 12 to 14. The tenders were of increased capacity and weighed 36 tons. They ran on eight wheels and were of most unusual design. The leading ends were carried on four-wheel bogies, and the trailing ends on fixed axles, with outside bearings. They were specially notable as the first eight-wheel tenders used on a British railway.

Class Q: 1890: (LNER D38)
These were also built by Robert Stephenson & Co. (WN 2698 to 2700) and running numbers 75 to 77. They had 6 ft 6½ in. driving wheels, the largest ever used on the Great North. In 1913, Nos. 75 and 77 were rebuilt with larger boilers, working at 160 psi with Robinson superheaters. To test the comparative merits of superheated and saturated steam, No. 76 was reconstructed shortly afterwards with a similar, but non-superheated boiler. So satisfactory were the results obtained from superheating that all the remaining engines of both classes, except Nos. 4, 7, 9, 10 and 13, were rebuilt between 1915 and 1920 with Robinson superheaters. The five exceptions were given new boilers similar to that of No. 76. After rebuilding, those fitted with superheaters weighed 47 tons, and the others 46 tons. In most cases, the eight-wheel tenders were replaced by tenders of standard design. No. 77 was rebuilt with an extended roof to the cab, supported on side pillars, but the others retained their original cabs.


D class: 1884:  (LNER J90)
Shortly after his arrival at Kittybrewster, Manson designed, and Kitson's built, nine 0-6-0 side tank engines—the only six-coupled type ever owned by the Great North. They were also remarkable as the first tank engines in the country to have cabs fitted with side doors. They had Works Numbers 2650-2655 and running numbers 8, 11, 15, 16, 39 and 42, appeared in 1884. They had 16 in. by 24 in. cylinders, and 4 ft 6in. wheels. The heating surface was 756 sq ft, and the working pressure 140 psi. and weighed 37½ tons in working order,

E class: 1885: (LNER J91)
Three more were delivered in 1885 and were numbered 37, 38 and 41 (Maker's numbers 2835-2837). They were slightly larger, and weighed 1 ton more.

Although primarily intended for shunting and banking duties, for several years these engines served on the smartly timed Aberdeen suburban services. They also worked short-distance passenger and goods trains on the main line, and on the Alford branch. In 1903, No.8 was fitted with front and rear cow-catchers, and sent to Fraserburgh to work the unfenced light railway to St. Combs. The whole series was rebuilt between 1907 and 1911, and given larger boilers, with a heating surface of 846 sq. ft. and working to a pressure of 150 lb. per sq. in., and new chimneys and boiler mountings. These alterations increased the weight by 4½ tons. Latterly they were mainly used on the Waterloo branch and for shunting at Kittybrewster.


Manson continued the style of painting introduced by his predecessor with only minor alterations, although the initials GNSR appeared for the first time on the tenders. The six-coupled tank engines had their oval nameplates fixed on the sides of the tanks, and did not display the company's initials.

Automatic tablet exchange

Manson invented an automatic tablet exchange apparatus, which made it possible to run fast trains on single lines, without risk of injury to the enginemen. This device was first used on the Great North, and was evolved after experiments with a modified form of the apparatus used to pick up and deliver mail bags had proved unsuccessful. The tablet apparatus consisted of two pairs of spring-loaded steel forks, placed back to back, parallel to the track. One pair of forks was mounted on a steel frame beside the track, and the other on a hinged bracket inside the cab of the engine. The forks beside the line could be moved forward by a hand lever to come directly under those on the engine. When not in use, the latter were swung back inside the cab. The tablets were placed in leather pouches fitted with a strong looped handle. The one for the single-line section ahead was placed in the forward fork of the frame on the ground, and picked up by the corresponding fork on the engine. Similarly, the tablet for the section in rear was delivered and picked up by the forks facing in the opposite direction. The apparatus proved successful, and was installed throughout the single-line sections on the Great North. To encourage its use by other companies, Manson generously refrained from patenting his invention, although strongly urged to do so.

James Johnson 1890-1894

Locomotive Engineer GNoSR (1890-1894) RCTS (Locomotives of the LNER Vol. 1): son of Samual Johnson of Derby. Middlemass (The Scottish 4-4-0) introduced the S class of 4-4-0 and nine 0-4-4Ts, both classes displayed strong lionks with Derby practice and were attractive looking locomotives. According to Highet Johnson moved to a firm of engineers in the West of England..

Carriage design on GNoSR: Fenwick: Backtrack 12-14


S class: 1893: (LNER D41)
In 1893 Neilson & Co. delivered six 4-4-0s Works Numbers 4640-5 and numbered 78 to 83. (RCTS Locomotives of the LNER Part 4). These engines were more powerful than any previously owned by the railway, and had 18 in. by 26 in. inside cylinders, with valves actuated by direct motion in place of the rocking shafts introduced by Manson. The driving wheels were 6 ft 1in.diameter, and the bogie wheels 3 ft 9½ in. The boilers had a heating surface of 1,207 ft2 and worked at 165 psi. The fireboxes were not fitted with Clark's smoke prevention apparatus, the use of which was then abandoned. The weight of the engine in working. order was 43 tons 18 cwt, of which 30 tons was available for adhesion. The tenders were slightly smaller than those designed by Manson. They weighed 35 tons, and ran on six wheels. Distinguished by their capacity for rapid acceleration and sustained high speed, these engines worked the principal main-line services with outstapding success for several years. Nos. 80 and 82 remained in their original condition until the grouping, but the others were rebuilt between 1915 and 1919.

R class (LNER G10): 1893
Neilson built nine 0-4-4 side-tank engines (WN 4631-9 RCTS Locomotives of the LNER Part 7) numbered 84 to 92. They had been designed by Manson, but their construction had been deferred. Johnson introduced modifications, to make the boilers, fireboxes and valve gear identical with those of his S class 4-4-0s, but the cylinders were slightly smaller: 17½ in. by 26 in. The coupled wheels were 5 ft 1 in. diameter, and the trailing wheels 3 ft 0½ in. The weight in working order was 53¾ tons. Unlike the 0-6-0 tank engines, the locomotives were not provided with the standard oval number plates, but had numbers painted on the coal bunkers, and displayed the company's initials on the sides of the tanks. These engines were intended for working the Deeside line, and for several years were almost wholly confined to that section, although one was allocated to the Cruden Railway when that branch was opened in 1897. By about 1900, however, most of them had been transferred to the Aberdeen suburban services, on which they worked for many years. The whole series was rebuilt between 1916 and 1922.

The locomotives designed by Johnson were characterised by their neat appearance, and pronounced Midland Railway features. This resemblance extended from the chimneys and the contour of the smokeboxes to the safety valves encased in a brass column on the fireboxes, and to the frames of the tenders, all of which were of unmistakable origin. Johnson further adhered to Midland practice by fitting a second set of safety valves on the domes, but without the Salter spring balances, which were for so long a feature of locomotives built at Derby. His successor, William Pickersgill, removed these valves, and substituted enclosed Ramsbottom valves for those mounted on the fireboxes.

In August 1894, Johnson resigned from the Great North to join a firm of engineers in the west of England. During his short term of office, he had placed 15 new locomotives in service, the whole of which passed to the LNER.

William Pickersgill: 1894-1914
Pickersgill's name is most closely associated with the Caledonian Railway which he joined in 1914, where his contribution to locomotive design is generally considered to have been at best modest and at worst mediocre. This may be partly explained by his far from exciting period on the GNSR in terms of locomotive design. His main contribution was in developing the new locomotive works at Inverurie. At the time of Pickersgill's appointment, the dispute with the Highland Railway was at its height. In anticipation of a successful application to Parliament for running powers to Inverness, and of a substantial increase in traffic, additional 4-4-0 locomotives were ordered from Neilson & Co. Their principal dimensions and general appearance were identical with those of Johnson's engines; but the safety valves on the domes were dispensed with, and the brass columns on the fireboxes were replaced by enclosed Ramsbottom valves, similar to those used on the Great Eastern Railway. The similarity was recognized in the LNER classification.


T class: 1895-: (LNER D41)
Interestingly, Sekon (Evolution of the steam locomotive) ascribes this design to Johnson, and notes that they shared the same boiler as the R class 0-4-4T which is clearly a Johnson "family" product. Although allocated a separate classification by the GNSR from the Johnson Class S 4-4-0s, the LNER linked both classes together as class D41. RCTS Locomotives of the LNER. Part 4 makes it clear that these were supplied by Neilson in two batches: 4877-90 in 1895/6 and 5212-23 in 1897/8. These received running numbers: 93 to 99 in 1895; Nos. 19 to 24, and 100 in 1896; Nos. 101 to 106 in 1897; and Nos. 107 to 112 in 1898. The last 12 appeared after the introduction of the 'Commissioners' Service' (improved Aberdeen to Inverness services imposed upon the recalcitrant Highland Railway by the Traffic Commissioners) in April 1897. They had tenders of increased capacity, fitted with coal rails, and weighing, 37 tons 2 cwt.

V class: 1899-: (LNER D40)
Ten more 4-4-0 locomotives were ordered from Neilson Reid & Co. in 1899: RCTS Locomotives of the LNER. Part 4 states that the five delivered to the GNSR were WN 5602-6 and running numbers 25, 26, and 113 to 115. They were generally similar to those already in service, but had square cabs, fitted with side windows, and a raised ventilator in the roof. The first five were delivered, but it was then decided that the others were not required, as the increase in traffic had fallen short of expectations. They were sold to the South Eastern & Chatham Railway, where they became Nos. 676 to 680 (Burtt SE&CR locomotives page 33)

When the first of Pickersgill's locomotives was rebuilt, some of the earlier locomotives, designed by Manson, already had been given superheated boilers, but the experiment was not extended to any of the later types, and the locomotives remained saturated unlike the later F class. Thirteen of the locomotives designed by Pickersgill: Nos. 19 to 21, 24, 97, 100 to 102, 108, and 112 to 115 were rebuilt between 1916 and 1921. No. 110 was fitted with Weir feed water pumps in 1920, but the results were not successful, and the apparatus was removed two years later.

GNSR 4-4-0 No. 27. Loco. Rly Carr. Wagon Rev.,  1910, 16, 5.
Inverurie-built locomotive: diagr. (s. el.). illus.

Steam rail motors/railcars (Pickersgill/Andrew Barclay)

In 1905 two steam rail motors (Highet), to Pickersgill's designs, appeared on the Lossiemouth and St Combs branches. These units consisted of a small engine mounted on a four-wheeled bogie and a coach body, the front end of which was pivoted on the rear end of the engine bogie and whose rear end ran on an ordinary coach bogie. The engine portions were built by Andrew Barclay & Co. of Kilmarnock, and were powered by vertical boilers made by Cochran & Co. of Annan. These boilers were something new in locomotive work. They were adaptions of a type well known in other fields but proved to be inadequate in this application. The lower part of the boiler was cylindrical and contained the grate and tubes and the upper part was hemispherical and contained the regulator valve. Since the boiler was mounted vertically on the engine bogie it gave the impression of a very large dome between the chimney and the cab. Firing was done from the footplate in the usual manner, onto a circular grate 9 sq. ft. in area, the firebars being arranged as in crane boilers. The products of combustion were brought away from the firebox at the side and deflected by a brick arch through the lower half of a nest of tubes. The gases then passed through the upper tubes, thence by a flue to the chimney. The tubes, of which there were 295 x 1½ in. were arranged transversely to the longitudinal centre line of the engine and an inspection door, to facilitate tube cleaning, was provided on the sides of the boiler casing.

The shell of the boiler was pressed out of a single flat plate and was entirely seamless, with no rivets or welded joints exposed to the action of the fire. Openings for firing and ash removal were likewise without riveted flanges and the foundation ring was also pressed from a single plate. This method of construction was used to avoid localized heating at thick joints and the tendency to grooving of the plates in the vicinity of the joints. The diameter of the boiler was 6 ft. and the heating surface 500 ft2. The working pressure was 150 psi. Two 2½ in. Crosby type safety valves were fitted, one on either side in front of the cab. A grid type regulator valve was mounted in the steam space and controlled the flow of steam to the steam chests through 3in. bore copper pipes. The 10 x 16 in. cylinders were just ahead of the rear bogie wheels and drove on to the leading axle. A very neat and compact Walschearts valve gear controlled the valve events, the slide valves being set over the cylinders horizontally. The maximum travel was 3¾ in., the lap 11/16 in. and the lead 1/8 in. The wheels of the power unit were 3 ft. 7in. diameter.

A small bunker attached to the front of the coach body formed the back of the cab and held 15 cwt. of coal. Underneath the leading end of the coach there was a 650-gallon water tank. The frames of the coach extended forwards and were carried on the engine bogie frame. The central pivot was 8 in. diameter and rested in a cup in the centre casting secured by a 2in. pin with a nut and cotter underneath. Due to the disproportionate weights resting on the bogie wheels, the pivot casting was positioned 6 ft. 8 in. behind the leading axle and 3 ft. 4 in. in front of the trailing axle. In consequence the springing of these axles was by laminated springs of different ratings. Three 9-coil bolster springs were provided for the leading bolster of the coach body.

The coach portion of the rail motor consisted of a long passenger compartment and a small compartment at the rear end, with doors for ingress and egress of passengers, also serving as a driving compartment when the unit was being driven from that end. To enable the driver to exercise control when driving from the rear end of the vehicle a ship's telegraph made by Messrs Chadburn of Liverpool and Glasgow was installed, a system of rods and levers operating the regulator valve, whilst the Westinghouse brake fittings were duplicated. The passenger compartment was 34 ft. 7in. long and seated 45 while the overall length of the car was 49 ft.  11 ½ in. and the total weight 47 tons.

The two engine units were numbered 29 and 31, Barclay's numbers 1056-7. The coaches were Nos. 28 and 29. Urnt 29/28 went to work on the St Combs Light Railway on November I, 1905, and 31/29 started working on the Lossiemouth branch on the same day.

Although on test the rail motors showed good prospects they were a failure in service. There was nothing wrong with their speed, one attained a speed of 30 m.p.h. in 20 seconds and ran at 60 m.p.h. between Aberdeen and Inverurie. They were little more successful on the Aberdeen suburban services and in the course of time the engine units were detached from the coaches and used as stationary boilers. Here they were apparently more successful; on the line they were dreadfully noisy and the boilers would not steam properly, and the hopes of their designer were not realized.

There is an excellently reproduced photographic illustration in Jenkinson and Lane's Briish railcars page 35.

During the 20 years Pickersgill served the GNSR he designed 39 locomotives and the two rail cars. Where Manson had changed the line from one featuring outside cylinders to one using inside cylinders instead, and Johnson had swept away the Clark smoke consuming gear, Pickersgill had introduced several changes as well. His cabs were roomy and really afforded protection to the enginemen. The side windows and clerestory roofs became a standard perpetuated by Heywood who succeeded Pickersgill in 1914.

Pickersgill removed all the old displacement lubricators, mostly of the Roscoe pattern, and substituted hydrostatic lubricators claiming that by their use the lubrication of valves and pistons was more efficiently achieved, a finer film of oil and less carbonization resulting.

Some criticism might be levelled at Pickersgill and his two immediate predecessors regarding the size of grate. This was never larger than 18.2 ft2. However the steaming capacities of the boilers was such that seldom was there any difficulty in keeping the cylinders fed, and as there was no non-stop runs of any great length the boilers were not put to any great strain. (Highet)

Inverurie Works
In 1898, the removal of the works from Kittybrewster to the northern outskirts of Inverurie was authorised. Pickersgill's advice was frequently sought while the works were being planned and equipped, and it was on his recommendation that plant to generate electricity for lighting and power was installed. The workshops and offices for both the locomotive and carriage departments were completed between 1901 and 1903. The works were built on a twenty-five acre site beside the village of Inverurie sixteen miles north west of Aberdeen. A new railway town came into being, increasing the population initially by 1200 people.

At the time of the transfer from Kittybrewster, William Pickersgill was in charge, and by the addition of new machinery to supplement that moved from Kittybrewster repairs and rebuilding were carried out in better circumstances. No new locomotives were built at Inverurie until 1909. The first to be built were inside cylinder 4-4-0s, the first being completed in April 1909 (V class No. 27). Eight were built, the last one appearing in March 1915. Known as class V they were built after five of the class were delivered by Neilson & Co. in 1899. Traffic was rapidly increasing and more modern classes were required to replace some of the older stock.

Following the Grouping the works, although not building further new locomotives, continued to be used for overhauls. The original erecting shop had 20 pits in cluding one through-road: 16 pits were in one bay which was served by a 60 ton travelling crane with two 30 ton hoists: 3 pits in the se cond bay were used for locomotives, the remainder for tenders and boilers. In 1956 the erecting, boiler and tender shops were reorganised, and a new 100 ton capacity travelling crane installed to deal with the heavier types of locomotives. (Lowe)

Thomas Heywood: 1914-1922

Last Locomotive Superintendent of the GNSR (1914-1922). Heywood had varied experience, not only in this country but overseas. He had been trained as a pupil under T. Hurry Riches of the Taff Vale Railway and had won a Whitchurch?? Exhibition gold medal for engineering. His first railway appointment was as draughtsman and inspector at Cardiff. He left for Burma in 1902, where he became assistant locomotive carriage and wagon superintendent of the Burma Railway, at Inseine. On return to Wales, it was again to the Taff Vale, being employed at Penarth. Dock as Chief Assistant Superintendent, in charge of the locomotive depot and the docks machinery. From Penarth he moved to Cardiff as Chief Assistant Superintendent before going north in 1914 for the chief's post on the Great. North of Scotland where he remained until the 1923 amalgamation. Under the LNER he became Running Superintendent of the Northern Scottish Area. Following WW1 Heywood was responsible for eight 4-4-0s to his designs. Webb.He subsequently became Mechanical Engineer at Cowlairs following the retirement of Chalmers.

Rutherford, Michael. Express eight coupled — some notes on the Gresley 2-8-2 and Chapelon 4-8-0. (Railway Reflections No.126). Backtrack, 2006, 20, 724-32.
Suggests that Heywood who was in charge of mechanical engineering in Scotland may have been responsible for the ultimate failure of the locomotives to reach their potential in Scotland. Also suggests that Heywood and Gresley may not have got on.

Contributor to discussions

Heywood, T.E. on Gresley, H.N. High-pressure locomotives. Proc. Instn Mech. Engrs., 1931, 120, 101-35. Disc.:135-206
Page 190

[RETIREMENT of T.E. Heywood, Mechanical Engineer, L.N.E.R., Scotland and former C.M.E. G.N.o.S.R.]. Loco. Rly Carr. Wagon Rev., 1942, 48, 83.

World War I

The outbreak of WW1 three months after Heywood's appointment caused further locomotive building at Inverurie to be postponed, although the two 4-4-0 tender engines already under construction were completed. On the other hand, the rebuilding of several locomotives was carried out during the next four years, in addition to repair work, and a number of government contracts. The only new locomotives placed in service were four small 0-4-2 tank engines, purchased in 1915 for shunting on the Aberdeen harbour lines. (classes X and Y) The GNSR had taken over the working of traffic at Aberdeen Harbour in 1915 (Barclay-Harvey). At the end of WW1 the motive power shortage was so accute that five 2-4-0s were borrowed from the GCR between June 1920 and the autumn of the same year.


F class (briefly VS class): 1920: (LNER D40)
Nearly two years elapsed following WW1 before the first locomotive designed by Heywood appeared. These were of the 4-4-0 type, and were virtually identical to Pickersgill's saturated V class  other than being fitted with Robinson superheaters. This was recognized in the LNER classification which is common to both former classes, although it was unusual for the LNER not to differentiate between superheated and saturated locomotives.  Perhaps at the time of the LNER classification it had been intended to equip the V class with superheaters. The weight in working order was 46 tons 19 cwt, of which 33 tons 4 cwt were available for adhesion. The tenders ran on six wheels, and weighed 37 tons 8 cwt. The first six were constructed by NBL: WN 22561-6. These received the running numbers and names as follows.

No. Name
47 . . . Sir David Stewart
48 . . . Andrew Bain
49 . . . Gordon Highlander
50 . . . Hatton Castle
52 . . . Glen Grant
54 . . . Southesk

For some time after construction No. 54 remainned unnamed. During the miners' strike in the spring of 1921, No. 49 was adapted for burning oil fuel, but the apparatus was removed after coal supplies again became normal. Later in the same year, two similar engines were built at Inverurie. They were numbered and named 45, George Davidson, and 46, Benachie. The latter was the final addition to the locomotive stock of the Great North;and the tenth, and last, engine to be built at Inverurie.

Warren, Alan. Four locomotive biographies in David St John Thomas The romance of Scotland's railways. Nairn. 1993.
No. 49 Gordon Highlander which entered traffic painted in black was used on Aberdeen to Elgin workings. Between June and October 1921 it was fitted with Scarab oil burning equipment. The LNER renumbered it 6849 and later 2277. Latterly it worked between Craigellachie and Boat of Garten. It was withdrawn in June 1958 and painted in the pre-WW2 green livery and worked special trains. In June 1966 it entered the Glasgow Museum of Transport.


X class: 1915: (LNER Z4)
These engines were designed and built by Manning Wardle (WN 1884/5) and were delivered in pairs: as class X and class Y: RCTS Locomotives of the LNER. Part 9B is the best source. The first two had 14 in. by 20 in. outside cylinders, 4 ft coupled wheels, and 2 ft 9 in. trailing wheels. The working pressure was 160 lb. per sq. in. When new, they were numbered Il6 and Il7, but in 1917 their numbers were changed to 30 and 32. In common with the six-coupled tank engines, these locomotives had their numberplates on the sides of the tanks, and did not carry the company's initials.

Y class: 1915: (LNER Z5)
The "second" pair  (WN 1858/9 which would seem to indicate that they were the "first") were numbered 43 and 44, and were slightly smaller, with 13 in. by 20 in. outside cylinders, and 3 ft 6 in. coupled wheels.


Shortly after Heywood came to the Great North, the style of painting was modified, and the wheels of the engines and tenders appeared iq black, without any lining. In 1917, however, an entirely new livery was adopted. The engines were painted black, lined with yellow and red. The last series of eight 4-4-0 engines displayed the company's coat of arms on the splashers of the front driving wheels below the nameplates, which were of brass and curved to fit the top of the splashers.

On 31 December 1922, the Great North owned 100 tender engines and 22 tank engines, the whole of which passed to the London & North Eastern Railway, although the oldest types did not long survive the grouping. A complete system of renumbering was introduced by which 6,800 was added to the existing numbers, and green once more became the colour for almost all the tender engines. In 1928, however, the LNER adopted a black livery for all except its most modem and powerful passenger classes.

The complete absertce of six-coupled tender engines had always been a remarkable feature of the locomotive stock, but in the interests of economy, all locomotives were designed to undertake mixed traffic duties. This policy was also partly responsible for the small number of tank engines, although the length of some of the branches restricted their use.

Morayshire Railway

Some years before the opening of the Morayshire Railway, James Samuel, whom Vallance calls the company's locomotive superintendent and engineer had patented a design for a steam railcar, or light engine, with a vertical boiler, for use on lines where traffic was light. It was claimed that these cars could be cheaply constructed, and would reduce operating expenses, and minimize wear and tear of the track By 1849, at least two had been constructed by William Bridges Adams, at the Fairfield Works, Bow, for the Eastern Counties Railway, of which Samuel was also engineer.

On the Morayshire Railway, Samuel's designs were adopted in a modified form, and two 2-2-0 light engines were constructed by Neilson & Co. (costing £2,622 7s 8½d) in readiness for the opening of the line in August 1852. They were numbered 1 and 2, and are said to have been named Elgin and Lossiemouth respectively. As the Morayshire Railway was then completely isolated, they had to be delivered by sea via Lossiemouth harbour. Far from complete details of these locomotives have survived, but they appear to have differed from the original design in that the engine was not permanently attached to a coach. The boilers carried a working pressure of 120 psi and the vertical cylinders were 10 in. by 16 in. The diameter of the driving wheels was 5 ft, and of the carrying wheels 3 ft. The weight in working order was about 14 tons.

The locomotives/railcars were far from satisfactory. At the official opening, the failure of the engine of the special train threatened to turn the proceedings into a fiasco; and on several subsequent occasions difficulty was experienced in maintaining a reliable service. The nadir was reached in 1858, when continued unpunctuality and engine failures led to the Inverness & Aberdeen Junction company taking over the working of all traffic between Elgin and Orton. Neither of the original locomotives remained in service long enough to be taken over by the Great North. One was withdrawn in 1859, or early in the next year, and the other in 1863, when the Morayshire company ceased to work its own traffic. Latterly, the survivor appears to have worked between Elgin and Lossiemouth only.

Ross. John. 2-2-0 or 2-2-2, that is the question: thoughts on the first Morayshire locomotives. Great North Rev., 2006, 43, 64-6. (via RCHS Bib 2006, 666). Argues that the "2-2-0s" were 2-2-2s.

In 1854, Samuel was succeeded by Joseph Taylor, of the Scottish Central Railway, who coped with the shortcomings of the locomotives until he was killed in an accident. On the evening of 23 April 1857, after the last train had reached Lossiemouth, the engine was returning towards Elgin, propelling a wagon to a lineside ballast pit, when it met the other engine running light, and bunker foremost, in the opposite direction. In the ensuing collision, the flimsy cab of the light engine was crushed, and Taylor, who was riding on the footplate, was killed.

It transpired that the light engine had been under repair at Elgin, and Taylor had taken it for a trial run, under the mistaken impression that all traffic had ceased for the night. The Board of Trade inspector commented sharply on this serious breach of the rules for working single lines. The engine propelling the wagon was not severely damaged, and there was no interruption of traffic. See also letter by Keith Fenwick in Br. Rly J., 1994 (51), 87 on use of snowplough following snowstorm of January 1854: a wedge-type snowplough appears to have been designed by  Taylor..

Taylor was succeeded first by Robert Blackwood, and then by George Golightly, two shadowy figures of whom little appears to have been recorded. The latter held office until the Great North took over'the working of the line in 1863. .

Obviously, Samuel's designs were not perpetuated when additional locomotives were required. In June 1859, Neilson & Co. delivered the first of two small 2-4-0 engines with saddle and side tanks; the second followed some 18 months later. They were 3 Glen Grant and 4 Lesmurdie and were probably designed by the makers. They had 14 in. by 20 in. outside cylinders, and 5 ft coupled wheels. The weight in working order was about 25 tons. The boilers were domeless, and the safety valves were enclosed in a brass column, similar to those subsequently adopted by Samuel Johnson on the Midland Railway. The chimneys were fitted with copper caps. The sides of the tanks were carried back to form side wings to the footplate. Sheet iron cabs, made in one piece, and bent to shape, were a later addition. Both engines were taken over by the Great North in 1863, and were renumbered 41 and 42, and had their nameplates removed. One of them worked between Orton and Rothes until that line was closed in 1866. Subsequently, one was employed on the Lossiemouth line, and on station pilot duties at Elgin, and the other on the Old Meldrum branch. No. 42 was withdrawn from service in 1883, and No. 41 early in 1885.

The Morayshire engines were painted green, of a shade similar to that used on the Great North, with very little lining.

Banffshire Railway

The Banff, Portsoy & Strathisla company started business in August 1859 with two 0-4-2 tank engines, built by Hawthorn & Co., of Leith: 1 Banff and 2 Portsoy. They were designed by the makers, and had 13 in. by 18 in. inside cylinders, 5 ft coupled wheels, and 3 ft trailing wheels. The weIght in working order was 20 tons. The fireboxes were raised, and were surmounted by the domes, on which Salter-type safety valves were fitted. The footplates were protected by front weather boards, placed in front of the domes, and by rear boards, mounted on the bunkers. In 1860, a 0-4-2 tender engine, built in 1848 by the Vulcan Foundry, Warrington, was purchased second-hand from the Scottish Central Railway. It had been rebuilt in 1855, and extensively overhauled shortly before it was sold. Numbered 23 by its original owners, it became No.3 on the Banffshire Railway, and was named Strathisla: its principal dimensions were outside cylinders, 16 in. diameter by 18 in. stroke, 4 ft 7 in. driving wheels, and 3 ft 6in. trailing wheels. The weight in working order was 23¾ tons. The tender ran on four wheels. A second 0-4-2 tender engine was built by Hawthorn & Co., and delivered in 1861. It was similar to those supplied by the same makers to the Deeside Railway, for which it had been intended. It became No.4 on the Banffshire Railway, and is said to have carried the name Keith for a short time, but later was unnamed.

When the Great North took over the working of the Banffshire Railway in 1863, the four engines were renumbered 37, 38, 39 and 40 respectively, and the nameplates were removed. In the next year, No. 40 was sold to the Deeside Railway; and No. 39 was sold to a contractor early in 1868. On the other hand, the two tank engines continued to work between Grange and Banff and Portsoy for many years. Both were withdrawn from service at the end of 1884, or early in 1885, and sold to a contractor. During the company's brief independent existence, the headquarters of the locomotive department were at Banff. The company painted its locomotives green, but details of the lining and lettering have not survived. The shade of green is said to have differed somewhat from that adopted on the Great North, and to have more closely resembled the dark green used by the Inverness & Aberdeen Junction Railway.

Deeside Railway

The Deeside Railway connected Aberdeen with Banchory and opened on 8 Seaptember 1853. At first the line was worked by the Scottish Central Railway, but when the company decided to work its own traffic, an order was placed with Hawthorn & Co. for two 0-4-2 tank engines. These were delivered in February and August 1854, and were numbered 1 and 2 respectively. As was the case with all other Deeside locomotives, they were not named. They had 5ft coupled wheels and 13 x 16 in cylinders. (Barclay-Harvey). It appeared to Vallance that these engines were similar to, although slightly smaller than, those supplied by Hawthorn & Co. to the Banff, Portsoy & Strathisla Railway five years later. No. 1 was withdrawn from service in 1865, as it had become too light for the increasing traffic; but No.2 survived for another 18 years, and probably was repaired with parts recovered from No.1. For some time, No.2 worked the Royal specials. While engaged in this duty, it is said to have had a panel representing the Royal Stewart tartan (or Duff tartan BH) painted on each of the tanks, but authentic information about this feature appears to be lacking.

In the autumn of 1854, a 0-4-2 tender engine (tank engine Barclay-Harvey) was obtained from Dodds & Son, of Rotherham, and numbered 3. According to Vallance the details of its design are obscure, but it appears to have had 5 ft coupled wheels, and to have weighed, together with the tender, about 35 tons. Mechanical defects delayed the delivery of the engine, and caused endless trouble after it had been placed in service. So unsatisfactory was its performance that an order for a similar engine was cancelled. According to BH it may have had Dodd's Patent Motion. Although No.3 remained on the books of the company for ten years, it appears to have done very little work. According to Barclay-Harvey it was acquired by Wheatley who changed the valve gear and sold it to a Spanish ore company in 1865.

Vallance gives the impression that in 1857, Hawthorn & Co. delivered a series of five 0-4-2 tender engines, with 16 in. by 22 in. outside cylinders, and 5 ft coupled wheels. Barclay-Harvey indicated greater differences and different dimensions. Nos. 4 (1857); 5 and 7 (1859) and 6 (1860) had 4ft 6 in coupled wheels and 15¼ x 24 in. outside cylinders. According to Vallance the weight in working order was about 28 tons. The safety valves were of the Salter type, and were fixed on the domes, which were mounted on the fireboxes. Front weather boards formed the only protection for the enginemen. With one exception, the tenders ran on four wheels, and weighed 16 tons. One of these locomotives is illustrated in Barclay-Harvey (plate fp. 66): it has a four-wheel tender and outside cylinders and DEESIDE RAILWAY appears on the cab-side above the maker's plate.

In 1864 ex-Banffshire Railway 0-4-2 No. 4 (GNSR No. 40) was acquired: this had become GNSR No. 40. It had to be hauled along the Aberdeen Harbour from Waterloo to Guild Street by horses. It is not clear whether this was renumbered before being taken over again by the GNSR again.

In September 1866, the Great North leased the Deeside Railway, and the seven locomotives were renumbered 39, 40 and 49 to 53 respectively. There appears to have been some question as to whether the 0-4-2 tank engine, No.2, should be included, and by the time this point was settled, it was able to take the number 39 held by a former Banffshire Railway locomotive then withdrawn from service. in 1878, Nos. 40 and 53 were renumbered 63 and 64 respectively. Compared with their contemporaries on the Great North, the Deeside locomotives did not have long lives. The considerable overhang at the leading end is said to have made the tender engines unsteady, a fault that became more pronounced as the speed of the trains increased with the gradual improvement of the services.

They passed to the scrap heap in the following order:

Deeside No. Date Withdrawn
4 ...... 1875
5 ...... 1876
7 ...... 1877
6 ...... 1878
3 (or 40) ...... 1879
8 ...... 1880
2 ...... 1883

The last to go was the survivor of the original pair of tank engines, whose fate had hung in the balance in 1866. After its reprieve, it appears to have been reserved almost exclusively for trains carrying permanent way materials, and for shunting duties.

The locomotive sheds and repair shops of the Deeside Railway were at Banchory. Until 1864, John Willet, the company's engineer, acted as locomotive superintendent. Both departments were then taken over by William B. Ferguson, the secretary and general manager.

Until they were taken over by the Great North in 1866, the Deeside locomotives were painted dark blue, with black lining. The title Deeside Railway, surmounted by the engine number, appeared in gilt letters, within a gilt border, surrounded by a broad border of black, on the side wings of the footplates.