© Geoff’s Rail Diaries 2011
I'd been fancying a trip to the Scottish pits for
a year or two. I'd made an abortive trip a
couple of years earlier - only to find it was the
pit holidays....(what was that about
planning???) In August 1978, I achieved that
ambition - with only limited success.
We stayed the night at Dalmellington, in
Ayrshire's Doon Valley ("they used to have an 'Eyes
Doon Bingo Hall' here", my colleague commented). Sadly, we had
arrived too late. It was clear as we passed Pennyvenie mine that
working had ceased - the Waterside "pug" was in use, the
following dreich morning, to shunt in the yard beside the
exchange sidings. A pair of 20s (003 leading) departed with a
loaded train. We left too.
My companion for this trip, a sterling fellow, has a strange
compulsion to study buses (I always thought of them as "the
enemy"!). "There's a private operator near here which we need
to check out". We did. There were some buses. 'Nuff said.
We headed eastwards (after a fine pint of Maclay's, I think it
was, in Strathaven - served by those strange water-engines once
used widely north of the border) and headed for the peaty moors
The following day we headed once again
for Bedlay, where this time we were able
to photograph steam in action - and, yes,
it was No 9. We spent some time on the
minor road which accompanied the line
from the pit to the exchange sidings, as a
train was weighed and then worked along
the branch. No 9 lives on - preserved at Summerlee Heritage
Park at Coatbridge.
We left Bedlay with some reluctance and headed for Polkemmet,
where we had a permit to enter the coal board premises. Sadly,
once again we were too late - the last train up the steeply
graded line to the exchange sidings had gone - we were in time
to see the loco drifting back down to the shed, where the fire
was dropped for the day. There were several locos at Polkemmet
at this time - most being dumped out of use. The working loco,
No 8, was a complete contrast to No 9 at Bedlay - a hefty
Barclay side tank, with Giesl ejecter, painted in the somewhat
unsympathetic NCB lorry livery of dark blue and yellow. Looking
an altogether more modern locomotive, it is perhaps surprising
to learn that AB 1296 was built in 1912, just three years after No
9. No 8 is now preserved at Waterside, and the part dismantled
"Austerity" in the picture is at Bo'ness.
Just one more port of call remained,
before our journey home - a preservation
site, Prestongrange Mining Museum.
Illustrated are those items of stock which
were visible - No 17, AB 2219 of 1946, No
7 "Prestongrange", Grant Richie 536 of
1914, and last but not least, a rather nice
little "cream stain", or to be precise, a
Whittakers Patent Steam Crane Navvy. And
that was it - home again!
Ayrshire Railway Preservation
Industrial Railway Society
between Glasgow and Edinburgh. Our first
destination was the works of Messrs.
Guerts, near Longriggend. The works was
clearly closed, and there was no sign of
the loco, a Ruston of 1938. We later
discovered it had been stolen! (not guilty,
We moved on the very short distance to the works of Lanarkshire
Moss Litter, where their Lister (5114 of 1933) "Drumbow Express"
(!) was in use, though not actually doing very much. We took a
couple of snaps for the record, and wandered on. "We ought to
look in at Bedlay, it's not far from here - see what's going on".
Once again, the answer was "not much" - the shift had finished.
There were two locos at Bedlay - No. 9, a fine Hudswell Clarke
0-6-0T, 895 of 1909, and a modern Barclay "pug". It looked as
though No. 9 had been in use earlier in the day "Let's hope it's in
Last photo stop of the day was another peat works - Hewden's at
Moodiesburn. Once again, work had finished for the day, so after
a couple of snaps we decided we too would call it a day. Of the
two locos there, one was dumped at the end of the track, out of
use. I met it again recently - its remains now live at Leadhills, a
brake van having been built on the now-engineless chassis.