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The North British Railway

RAILWAYS OF BRITAIN - 41


NORTH BRITISH RAILWAY EXPRESS PASSENGER LOCOMOTIVE, No. 868


























NORTH BRITISH RAILWAY EXPRESS PASSENGER LOCOMOTIVE, No. 868

DESIGNED BY Mr. W. P. REID, M.INST.M.E.




THE North British was the original name of the line which opened in 1846 from Edinburgh to Berwick; but Berwick comes much earlier into railway history, for it was the intended terminus of the Glasgow & Berwick, surveyed by Telford and already referred to, which was projected by Martin Dalrymple of Fordel who died in 1809. Like the others, the North British, which is the longest railway in Scotland by some 350 miles, was built up by amalgamation, and the old companies it absorbed were unusually numerous.


The oldest railway, officially so called, now forming part of its system was the Monkland & Kirkintilloch, which in its Act of 1824 followed the example of the Oystermouth and Stockton & Darlington in obtaining powers to make and erect such and so many locomotive or movable engines as, in short, it pleased, and was likewise permitted to carry passengers. The line, at first single and soon doubled throughout, was opened in 1826, and ran for ten miles northward from the Monkland collieries and ironworks to the Kirkintilloch basin of the Forth & Clyde canal.


By it the coal and iron district of that busy part of Lanarkshire was put into more direct communication with the east coast than by canal. The railway was bitterly, and naturally, opposed by the canal people, but in vain, and with it began that strenuous competition, inadequately described as fights and battles, that has so pleasingly varied the story of railway enterprise north of the Border, the significant signs of which are the spacious legal offices of the two leading companies at Westminster.


THE FAR NORTH EXPRESS CROSSING THE FORTH BRIDGE












THE FAR NORTH EXPRESS CROSSING THE FORTH BRIDGE














While the Monkland & Kirkintilloch was under construction by Thomas Grainger, who laid out several of the early Scottish lines, it was decided to extend it; and in May 1826, five months before it opened, an Act of Parliament authorised the Ballochney line joining it at Kippbyres and coming in from three branches. The Ballochney was in time extended farther east by the Slamannan, and the three companies amalgamated as the Monkland Railways, which were taken over by the Edinburgh & Glasgow and became part of the North British in 1865.


WAVERLEY STATION, EDINBURGH












WAVERLEY STATION, EDINBURGH

















The Edinburgh & Dalkeith obtained its Act in the same year as the Ballochney, and opened in 1831, the engineer being James Jardine. It ran from St. Leonards to Dalhousie with branches to Dalkeith, South Leith, and Fisherrow. Part of it - from St. Leonards to Duddingston - was worked by rope and stationary engine, and there were no locomotives on the remainder until it became the property of the North British in 1845, as was evident from the notice-board allowed to remain at every station forbidding drivers to stop by the way to feed their horses.


The Fisherrow branch was the Innocent Railway of Robert Chambers. “Nobody,” says he, “is ever too late for the Innocent Railway. One day we had started from Fisherrow up the inclined plane, when a washerwoman, with a huge bundle of clothes upon her back, was seen making after us on the line, occasionally waving a hand in the hope of its prevailing upon the conductor to stop. We thought the poor woman had no sort of chance of making out her passage; but, wonderful to say, she overtook us, burden and all, at a place where a short pause is made a mile and a half forward. There is a second stoppage - quite leisurely - at the bottom, to detach the rope, and yoke the horses to their respective carriages. Off they go, trotting at a brisk pace past Duddingston Loch; but we have not advanced above a quarter of a mile, when a lady with a parasol and ten bandboxes is seen waiting for us at a cross-road; and there is, of course, a pause to get her taken in. This accomplished, on we go again; but lo, ere we have gone another mile, we have to stop at another cross-road to let off a farmer. Once more in motion, we advance rather briskly - that is, at the rate of about eight miles an hour - in order to make up for lost time; but this has not lasted half a mile, when we meet the carriages proceeding to town, and have to stop, in order that the drivers may pass some message in the one or the other direction. A few more minutes brings us into the station at Fisherrow. The passengers land in a place like a farm-yard, where ducks and hens, and a lounging dog, and a cottager’s children, are quietly going about their usual avocations, as if undreaming that they are within fifty miles of such a thing as machinery. Just conceive a railway where the carriages have barefooted boys to come off and run on in advance to change the switches!”


NO. 893 EXPRESS PASSENGER ENGINE “SIR WALTER SCOTT”





NO. 893 EXPRESS PASSENGER ENGINE “SIR WALTER SCOTT”










The South Leith, the Dalkeith and the Fisherrow branch are still used, having been altered and adapted at an early date, and in 1845 the projected line to Hawick was taken over by the North British, which picked up the Dalkeith on its way to cross the Border, for like the Caledonian it comes south of the Tweed. Nearly a quarter of its Waverley route is in England, and from Riccarton it reaches Morpeth to the east, and Silloth on the Cumberland coast, and Hexham half-way between.


The next old company that should be noticed is the Edinburgh, Leith & Granton, opened in 1842, six years after it was authorised. This was absorbed by the Edinburgh & Northern, and put Edinburgh in communication with Perth and Dundee, or rather Tayport, which meant the same thing, and it was generally known as the Edinburgh & Dundee until it became North British in 1862. If we add to this the Edinburgh & Glasgow, authorised in 1838 and opened in 1842, which the North British acquired in 1865, we shall have said enough for our purpose with regard to these old lines.


THE APPROACH TO WAVERLEY STATION, EDINBURGH












THE APPROACH TO WAVERLEY STATION, EDINBURGH















Now the North British extends to Bervie on the east coast and Mallaig on the west, and its farthest north is Fort Augustus, which it reaches through the long West Highland line from Craigendoran opposite Greenock on the Clyde. Its multitudinous loops and branches need not be particularised; suffice it to say that it has about seventy terminal stations and a length of some 1350 miles, of which over 800 are single line. It carries 38 millions of passengers a year, 22 million tons of minerals, and 5 million tons of merchandise; its coaches and wagons exceed 71,000 in number, and it has nearly 900 engines, whose yearly mileage totals up to considerably more than 18 millions. It owns 50 acres of docks, at Silloth, Bo’ness, Alloa, Charlestown, Methil, and Burntisland; and from each of the last two it is shipping 12,000 tons of coal a day. In short, it is the largest Scottish railway though not the most profitable, its capital being £66,000,000, a fifth greater than that of the Caledonian.


TANK ENGINE NO. 863 - FOR LOCAL TRAFFIC








TANK ENGINE NO. 863 - FOR LOCAL TRAFFIC












In Waverley it has the largest station at present in the country. This covers 23 acres, half of which are under glass, and the length of the platforms is close on 2¾ miles - a fine station, well planned, but to a great extent hidden away, its height and roofing hampered by the respect that had to be paid to ancient lights. There are two ways to it from the south, that by the East Coast and the so-called Waverley route from Carlisle.


The road from Berwick is not difficult. From Berwick, along by the cliffs, it rises for five miles past Lamberton, crossing the Border at 1 in 190; then comes a level stretch for four miles, then a rise up the Eye Water at 1 in 200 to Grant’s House, the highest point. For five miles onwards it falls at 1 in 96, continuing by easy undulations until it runs up into Edinburgh at 1 in 78.


TAY BRIDGE STATION










TAY BRIDGE STATION

















The Carlisle road is of a more arduous character. Undulating gently for eleven miles it begins to rise for eight, four of which are at 1 in 100, and then it falls for two miles to cross the Border at Kershopefoot. Rising from there it reaches 315 ft a mile beyond Newcastleton, and then up it goes for eight miles at 1 in 75 to the summit, 955 ft, thirty-four miles from Carlisle. The descent for eleven miles to Hawick is at 1 in 75 and 1 in 100, and along the Teviot it rises for six miles to fall a similar distance to St. Boswells at from 1 in 120 to 1 in 200. Galashiels is reached by gentle slopes, and then begins an ascent by the banks of the Gala Water to Falahill, where the line goes over 850 ft and descends for fifteen miles, eight of them at 1 in 70, to Portobello, whence after an easy stretch of a little over a mile it rises at 1 in 78 into Waverley on the same track as the other.


The gradients on the Waverley route are not, however, the worst the North British passenger trains meet with. At Causewayend there is one at 1 in 23 for half a mile, and at Commonhead there is another of the same for a quarter of a mile, with one at 1 in 26 and another at 1 in 27. To say nothing of the old approach to Glasgow at 1 in 45, up which the trains were pulled by a rope, there are in Perthshire and out on the West Highland line several sharper than 1 in 75, including at least two of 1 in 53.


THE NEW TAY BRIDGE






































THE NEW TAY BRIDGE




This West Highland line was, to put it mildly, a much discussed railway. That the North British should presume to come running down the north bank of the Clyde to Craigendoran and take a share of the boat traffic was simply horrifying to the Caledonian, but when it came to going north from there up the west coast to Mallaig and to Fort Augustus, as was evidently intended, the Highland joined in the fray, and the heat of opposition to “a project that could never pay” rose to a temperature quite inconceivable by those not engaged in it.


Northward this line goes to Garelochhead, then on, by the side of Loch Long, to Ardlui at the head of Loch Lomond, and up Glen Falloch to Crianlarich on the side of Ben More. Through the deer forests and on across the moor of Rannoch it continues, over the summit level of 1350 ft, to skirt the Treig and, passing the falls of Monessie, reach Spean Bridge in the Ben Nevis country, where it divides; the northern spur going by way of Invergarry to Fort Augustus, while the south-western takes you to Fort William, and from there westwards to Mallaig in North Morar at the entrance of Sleat Sound with Armadale in Skye across the water. One of the wildest, bleakest of routes, where the only two trains down and two trains up in the course of the day traverse the 122 miles from Arrochar at the rate of 24 miles an hour whenever they succeed in keeping time.


Before Waverley Station was enlarged it was the standard excuse for the complaint that the North British was most remarkable for its unpunctuality, but there were other reasons for this. The number of connections, mainly forced upon the company by the position of the two estuaries, those of the Forth and Tay, were unusually great. There were connections, for instance, with both the East Coast and Midland routes to England from the west and north of Scotland, those from the latter being most uncertain, especially in stormy weather, while the working of the Forth and Tay ferries at all times constituted the chief difficulty in maintaining punctuality.


“FLYING SCOTSMAN” PASSING DUNBAR AT 60 MILES AN HOUR










 “FLYING SCOTSMAN” PASSING DUNBAR AT 60 MILES AN HOUR













Another improvement, taking the line out of a tangle of many branches and devious loops, was the building of the bridges over the Forth and the Tay, which are the two great engineering works of the system. The first Tay Bridge was swept away with a train on it in a hurricane in December 1879. It was designed by Sir Thomas Bouch, who as a bridge-builder was unlucky. His bridge over the Esk at Montrose, another fine structure, failed owing to the bad foundation afforded by the back-sands, and much money was spent in building the new lattice girder erection there, opened in 1882.


His Tay Bridge, within a few yards of two miles in length, consisted of eighty-five spans, of which thirteen were over the fairway, two of them being of 227 ft span and eleven of 245 ft. On these thirteen the line ran on the upper members of the girders, and on the others it was on the lower members; in the smaller piers there were four pillars in a group, in the larger piers there were six, and the pillars were in both cases a foot in diameter. It seemed safe enough. In September 1877 it was completed; in May 1878 it was passed by the Board of Trade; in June 1879 Queen Victoria crossed it on her way from Balmoral and knighted Bouch; and six months afterwards it fell, and pitched itself and the train into the Tay with the loss of some seventy lives.


While the Tay Bridge stood, Bouch was busy in completing his plans for a colossal suspension bridge over the Forth, with towers 600 ft high on Inchgarvie, which came to nothing, for the disaster simply shattered his reputation, paralysed railway enterprise for a time, and led to the Forth Bridge Company promoting a Bill for the abandonment of their existing works. That there should be a bridge over the estuary, or a tunnel under it, such as that to Rosyth, proposed as far back as 1808, was, however, clearly necessary for the development of the East Coast service, and, after the Bill was deposited, the company was reconstituted at the last moment on three leading engineers reporting that notwithstanding the collapse of the Tay Bridge a suitable, durable structure could be built. And then a design was prepared on quite a different principle.


THE FORTH BRIDGE






































THE FORTH BRIDGE




To carry out this scheme was beyond the means of the North British, though the working of the traffic was to be entrusted to them. So a joint financial arrangement was effected by which the North British guaranteed 30 per cent, of the cost, the Midland 32½ per cent, and the North Eastern and Great Northern jointly 37½ per cent; and thus it came about that in 1882, the year after the Act was obtained for the new Tay Bridge, the Forth Bridge was authorised.


The three engineers on whose report the company was re-formed were W. H. Barlow and Thomas Elliot Harrison, Stephenson’s assistant on the Newcastle High Level, and John Fowler, who had begun as Rastrick’s assistant on the Brighton, and among many things built, in 1860, the first London railway bridge across the Thames, that from Battersea to Pimlico; and it was Fowler, and his partner Benjamin Baker, who designed the bridge on the cantilever principle that had never been adopted before on anything like the scale.


BERWICK STATION











BERWICK STATION














The stupendous structure, so well proportioned that it looks nothing like its size, really supports itself from summit to base at every point it touches the ground, and its dimensions and construction, with the horizontal truncated triangles of its roadway, render it proof against any hurricane that may rage. The principle is that of a pair of brackets placed back to back which balance each other and are anchored at their extremities; and the tubes of these brackets are 12 ft in diameter, the piers that carry them tapering from 70 ft in diameter at the base to 49 ft at the top.


Whenever a train comes on to the bridge there is a pull along the top of the bracket and along all the radii hanging down-wards, and a thrust along the bottom of the bracket and on all the radii pointing upwards; and where there is a pull a lattice girder is used, and where there is a thrust a tube is used. Consequently all the main lines of the structure that spread from the top are girders and all that diverge from the base are tubes; and it is only when you pass underneath that you see how each tube is about the size of one of the columns that hold up an ordinary railway bridge.


THE MISCELLANEOUS FOUNDRY AT COWLAIRS













THE MISCELLANEOUS FOUNDRY AT COWLAIRS














The eleven masonry arches account for 521 ft of its length; and then there are eleven girder spans each of 168 ft, two of 173 ft, and two of 179 ft, ending at the masonry piers on each side which rise to 209 ft above high water. Adjoining these are two single cantilever spans each of 689 ft 9-in, followed by the two great cantilever spans of 1710 ft, each affording for the navigation a height of 150 ft for 500 ft of the distance between the piers.


THE HEAVY FOUNDRY at Cowlairs











THE HEAVY FOUNDRY

















The tower on Inchgarvie is 260 ft broad, and the towers on either side are 145 ft broad. From the base of the deepest pier to the top of the tower above the height is that of the second pyramid of Egypt. Twice as high as the Newcastle High Level, it would stretch exactly from St. Paul’s Cathedral to the York column in Waterloo Place; and the distance up lower Regent Street to the insurance office ending the vista is the same as the width of one of its spans. Stretching for over a mile and a half across the open water it looks a small thing, there being nothing near by to yield adequate comparison, though the dockyard at Rosyth may furnish something useful in that way.


Unlike other bridges, which arrive more or less ready for erection, it was made on the spot, an extensive establishment being started for the purpose on the south side in 1882 by the builders, Tancred, Arrol, & Co.; and this was for years classed among the interesting industrial works of Edinburgh. The foundations began in January 1883, done by caisson in the usual way but on a giant scale, some of them going down 90 ft below high-water mark. On the concrete came Arbroath stone faced with Aberdeen granite, and on the stone piers the massive bedplates were laid and bolted, and smoothened with emery, and highly polished and coated with crude petroleum to keep them slippery under the skew-backs, which were

fitted on with elliptical holes providing for expansion and contraction due to change of temperature.


THE WHEEL SHOP, COWLAIRS












THE WHEEL SHOP, COWLAIRS

















The skew-back is the junction bed of the tubes; and in the structure there are six miles of tubes, and forty-two miles of plates were used to make them with. Each tube consists of ten plates and ten longitudinal beams, stiffened at each eight feet by a diaphragm; the plates vary from 1⅛-in to 1¼-in in thickness, and are 16 ft long by 4 ft 4-in wide, and they were squeezed into shape under a hydraulic pressure of 1600 tons between the dies.


THE ERECTING SHOP, COWLAIRS











THE ERECTING SHOP

















“Not only were the plates pressed,” as was said by the writer at the time, “but they were planed and built up into position and had the rivet holes drilled before they left the shore. The scene at the yard can therefore be imagined. What with planing machines and dressing machines, and the circular saw cutting slabs of solid steel, and the hydraulic rams justifying plates and carving angle-irons, it would have been remarkable without the great drilling machines which were its chief feature. The tubes were built up on a mandrel just as if they were in position, but so large were they that instead of being taken to the workshop the workshop was brought to them, and travelled along them as they were constructed. This workshop had its own engine and boiler and its own system of drilling machines; and the travelling annular drill frames, each with ten drills kept cool by water jets, bored at a rate that would have sent the inch drills through 280 ft of solid steel in twenty-four hours, and made holes at once through plate and cover and stiffener, so that when erected not a piece would be a hair’s-breadth out of place.”


North British Railway Company Every appliance known up to then was used in its erection, telegraph, telephone, camera, tramway, wire lift, press, winch, and crane; and as the cantilevers were built out into space, one balancing the other and taking its sole support from it, with the cranes hanging over the outer ends and fishing up the material from the boats 300 ft below, the 3500 men were almost invisible in the steel webs that rose in a line across the Forth. Night and day the work went on, even through midwinter, and in the night the webs stood out in brilliant light and dark shadow in the glare of the hundred arc lamps and hundreds of incandescents that provided an illumination such as had never been seen before.


Right and left, wider and wider grew the wilderness of work, as the zigzags went on lengthening until they joined up with the zigzags that stretched out northwards and southwards to meet them from the Queensferries. And then there came the painting - 135 acres of it - and the clinching of the last rivet in the 52,250 tons of Siemens steel that completed the road along the mile of cantilevers which was opened on the 4th of March 1890.


The other great bridge of the line, the second one over the Tay, was designed by Barlow. It was opened in 1887, and is a few yards above the ruins of the first, a large, ordinary-looking, lattice-girder structure 3593 yards long, with a double line of rails running on the lower members of the girders over the fairway, and on the upper members else-where and not as in Bouch’s design. Its long array of similar piers, looking at a distance like so many trestles, number no less than 87, the four over the fairway being 245 ft apart and 77 ft above the water. It is of no architectural distinction, and may be described as a monotonous erection redeemed from ugliness by its dimensions and the curve at the Dundee end.


In the very early days the North British locomotive works were at St. Margaret’s, close to the Edinburgh terminus, where in 1863 there was built the then fastest engine on the line, best known perhaps as No. 1009, practically a Jenny Lind, 2-4-2, with 6-ft drivers, no dome but a brass casing to the safety valve, the boiler being 10 ft 4-in by 4 ft and the working pressure 130. Such was the type that drew the East Coast expresses in the early sixties.


When the Edinburgh & Glasgow - with its arms and all complete - was taken over, the works were transferred to Cowlairs, where they now are. The oldest engines were, however, those of the Monkland, which was not absorbed until afterwards, the passenger stock that then became North British being 0-4-2’s with 5-ft drivers and 3 ft 6-in trailers. In appearance they were far inferior to the seven Edinburgh & Glasgow specimens, which were as smart as Great Westerns with their green bodies, brass domes, and brass edgings and rails. These old brass-bounds, numbered finally from 233 to 239, were a thoroughly honest sort all the same, and kept going noisily and happily for forty years or more.


Another well-known lot were the 6-coupled goods built by Mr. Wheatley, who was at Cowlairs between 1869 and 1874. These had 4 ft and 5 ft wheels, and cylinders 16-in by 24-in and 17-in by 24-in, and underwent a considerable change in their later days, Mr. Dugald Drummond having altered some of them into saddle-tanks, and Mr. Matthew Holmes having rebuilt others with improvements. They have been long outclassed, for they were a feeble folk compared, say, with No. 329, with her 18½-in by 26-in cylinders and 1794 sq ft of heating surface.


Building Covered Wagons at Cowlairs












BUILDING COVERED WAGONS AT COWLAIRS















Soon after the Waverley route was opened in May 1876 Mr. Drummond came out with a class of 4-4-0’s having 18-in by 26-in cylinders, wheels 6 ft 6-in and 3 ft 6-in, boilers 10 ft 3½-in by 4 ft 5⅛-in having 201 tubes and a heating surface of 978·29, to which the firebox added 102·67, so as to make the total 1080·96, the grate area being 21 and the pressure 150. Those were the days of the quick, hot luncheon at Normanton, which was excellently done when you entered into the spirit of the thing and gave the waiter a chance, while to those who did not the courses were all removes; and the laggards being in the majority the dining-cars came on to add tons to the train. So to keep the speed up these engines were rebuilt with 18¼-in by 26-in cylinders, the boiler diameter increased to 4 ft 7-in, the tubes by 32, thus increasing the heating surface to 1224, and the firebox being enlarged to 126 the total heating area became 1350, and at the same time the working pressure was increased to 175. Heavier trains requiring still more power a new class gradually replaced these with cylinders 19-in by 26-in, a heating surface of 1577 made up of 1444 and 133, the grate area being 22·5.


When the Forth Bridge was opened the engine that drew the first train was No. 602, a 7-ft 4-coupled with 18-in by 26-in cylinders, of the same class as No. 592, with which Mr. Matthew Holmes took the gold medal at the Edinburgh Exhibition of 1886. Another class much resembling it was that named after No. 633, which had cylinders of the same size but 6 ft 6-in wheels.


Kinnaber. The Junction of the East Coast and West Coast Routes to Aberdeen














KINNABER. THE JUNCTION OF THE EAST COAST AND WEST COAST ROUTES TO ABERDEEN
















To open the West Highland, good hill-climbers were evidently necessary to take trains up to Tulloch, and for it Mr. Holmes provided a small class with 5 ft 7-in driving wheels, a tube heating surface of 1130·41, the total with that of the firebox being 1235·13; of these, which worked at a pressure of 150, the weight was 43 tons 6 cwt, a third of it being on the driving axle. To haul the main line expresses a more powerful engine was designed in No. 729. This, a 4-4-0 like the rest, had the cylinders 18¼-in by 26-in, the bogie wheels were 3 ft 6-in, the drivers 6 ft 6-in, the heating surface was 1350 sq ft, of which 1224 came from the 254 1¾-in tubes; the grate area was 20 sq ft, and the working pressure 175 lb. These engines weighed 47 tons, the tender, with its 3500 gallons, weighing 39. Still the heating surface increased; in No. 317 it reached 1577 sq ft and the cylinders had become 19-in in diameter; and now we have Mr. Reid’s portly Atlantics, in which they are 20-in by 28-in and the heating surface is 2256.


When these tremendous engines are running with the steam shut off and the regulator closed, a jet of steam enters the cylinders and sprays oil into them from an oil cup connected with the automatic relief valve; and there are other ingenuities about them of interest to engineers. They have, of course, the North British bogie without a swinging centre but with inverted laminate springs and floating beams, the trailing boxes having a sliding cover on which the springs bear and underneath which the box is allowed the side play that enables the engine to suit itself to the curve. The cylinders are not horizontal but set at a slope of 1 in 48; the bogie wheels are 3 ft 6-in, the coupled four are 6 ft 9-in, and the trailers 4 ft

3-in; the centre line of the boiler is 8 ft 11-in above the rails; there are 257 tubes of steel with a diameter of 2-in except at the smokebox end, where they increase by an eighth of an inch, the heating surface they yield being 2071·4 sq ft, that of the firebox 184·8; the grate area is 28·7 and the working pressure 200 lb. Over buffers, engine and tender measure 63 ft ; the engine weighs 74 tons 8 cwt, the tender, with its 4240 gallons of water and 7 tons of coal, weighs 45 tons 8 cwt, the combined weight being 119 tons 16 cwt - a nice little load for the permanent way of their own and other lines.


COMPOSITE CORRIDOR CARRIAGE, No. 248























COMPOSITE CORRIDOR CARRIAGE, No. 248




More recent are the Waverley class of 4-4-0’s, represented herein by the “Sir Walter Scott”. These have 19 by 26 cylinders, coupled wheels of 6 ft 6-in, a heating surface of 1618·12 sq ft, a grate area of 21 sq ft, and are worked at a pressure of 190, the weight of the engine being 54 tons 16 cwt, and that of the tender 46 tons.


The North British is a complicated system to manage, as can be seen from Bradshaw, where it occupies about 35 pages with no less than 57 different time-tables; and it has not only its own track to work its trains on but nearly 120 miles of other people’s. Under running powers it traverses over 82 miles of the Caledonian, the longest stretch being that from Kinnaber, the next being the 20 miles between St. Vigeans and Kirriemuir; and on the North Eastern it has running powers over 26 miles, besides appearing on the Glasgow & South Western, the Midland, and the London & North Western. It gets from Larbert to Kilsyth on a joint line with the Caledonian, and, on another joint line with the same company from Dundee to Arbroath, it reaches Hillside, the northernmost station of its own on the Aberdeen route, the other branch from Montrose taking it farther north to Bervie on the coast.


This Dundee & Arbroath line is interesting from its vicissitudes. Its Act was obtained so long ago as 1836, and it opened from Arbroath to Craigie twro years afterwards, reaching Dundee on the 1st of April 1840. It was laid in the old way, much of it on stone blocks - which had to be altered. Like the Arbroath & Forfar, it was of 5 ft 6-in gauge, under the idea that, as “it was not likely to be linked up with any long chain of communication,’’ there was no harm in being experimental - and that had to be altered. The engines were, as usual with these wide gauges, expected to be more powerful owing to the extra width; and, as usual, owing to the patterns and tools, they were just the same as others with the space wasted by using inside frames and bearings. Though they might waste space, the company did not like to waste steam, and therefore the exhaust was led into the tender-tank to warm the water - and that had to be altered.


For some reason it was worked as a right-handed line - and that had to be altered. It started as an isolated concern, but before it was complete it ended its separate existence by being handed over on lease, with the Dundee & Newtyle, to the Dundee & Perth. Then the combined railways became leased to the Caledonian until 1850, when it slipped out of the agreement and became independent. After twelve years of independence it amalgamated with the Scottish North Eastern, which in its turn was absorbed by the Caledonian. Twice Caledonian, one would have thought it would have remained so; but no, for in 1880, owing to the higgling about the Tay Bridge, it passed into the joint ownership of the Caledonian and North British, to be managed by a committee of its own at Dundee, and form a section of the great north road on which the best of work is done.


An old line was not necessarily a flat line, as witness the just-mentioned Dundee & Newtyle which, among other strange experiences, underwent the ignominy of being advertised to be let, the advertisement ending with the remarkable announcement, “The proprietors do not engage to accept the lowest offer.” It began boldly with half a mile on a rising gradient of 1 in 10, which it need hardly be said their lordships of Airlie and Wharncliffe, for all their bogies, did not work, for a rope was used as on the two other inclines.


At Roy Bridge. Obtaining Moving Pictures for the Bioscope.


















AT ROY BRIDGE. OBTAINING MOVING PICTURES FOR THE BIOSCOPE




















The rope was invaluable to the old engineers for getting up or down to an average level at which the rest of the line could be run. We saw it at Liverpool and at Euston; for many years it was used at Glasgow; but at Edinburgh it was not necessary, as the terminus was in the valley of the North Loch, on the eastern side of Old Waverley Bridge that took the place of the Little Mound. There, between the Edinburgh & Glasgow and Princes Street, but at the end of a rope, was the Edinburgh, Perth, & Dundee, and on the other side was the North British now representing the three. At Cowlairs the rope was used for two years, then for some four years specially designed engines did the work, but these were taken off and the rope reverted to until November 1908. Barring the Cowlairs gradient - which is now avoided by the Low Level - the North British, in that old line, has the shortest and easiest route to the Clyde district.


Leaving Waverley you pass through the tunnel to Haymarket, where the Edinburgh & Glasgow ended when it opened, and on by Winchburgh to Linlithgow, thence to Falkirk, and so to Queen Street, where by the City & District you pass under Glasgow to the stations on the north bank of the Clyde as far as Craigendoran. for the coast steamers or the West Highland, or at Dalreoch, just beyond Dumbarton, you run off to Balloch on the shore of Loch Lomond. Thence the steamers take you right up to Ardlui, one of the loveliest, and cheapest, trips discoverable, or land you at Inversnaid, whence the coach will put you on Loch Katrine for the Trossachs, on the circular tour system that Scotland works to perfection and seems to have begun.


Craigendoran Pier.










CRAIGENDORAN PIER
















[From Our Home Railways by W J Gordon, published 1910]



You can read more on “The Caledonian Railway”, “The North Eastern Railway” and “The Romance of the LNER” on this website.