Historic steam locomotive returns to the Strathspey line after two decades

A locomotive that has not run on the Strathspey railway line for almost 20 years has made a welcome return after being restored from top to bottom.

A new chapter opened in the history of the oldest surviving Black Five when the LMS 5025 recently relocated on its own to the Aviemore-Broomhill line for the first time in 18 years.

It follows a major fundraising campaign by owners – the WEC Watkinson Trust – and one of the most comprehensive overhauls ever undertaken on a preserved locomotive in the UK.

The 5025 engine first entered service on the Highland Main Line shortly after it was built in 1934.

The locomotive is expected to resume carrying passengers soon.

After being repainted in its original LMS livery, the 5025 is scheduled to return to service on the Strathspey Railway later this year.

Most of his working life was spent in the North West of England before the engine was purchased directly from British Railways by Ted Watkinson in 1968 for the embryonic Strathspey Railway project.

The locomotive was used to perform services on the Strathspey Railway after the line opened in 1978 and also operated some special trains on the main line.

But 5025 had to be taken out of service in 1993 because it was clear that major work was ultimately needed to save the locomotive from scrapping.

Strathspey Railway spokesman Graham Sutherland said he was delighted the 5025 is now back after such a long time.

He said: “The WEC Watkinson Trust began raising funds for the overhaul in the mid-2000s and has been greatly assisted by grants from the Lottery Heritage Fund, the Strathspey Railway Company, the Strathspey Railway Association, the Strathspey Railway Trust and donations from the many individual donors who generously responded to the fundraising appeal.

“The dismantling of the 5025 started in 2010 and it quickly became evident that the complete renewal of certain components of the locomotive was necessary and the decision was therefore taken to restore it to its ‘as new’ condition.

The overhaul included the construction of a new smoke box, front frames and tender tank, a major overhaul of the boiler, and the casting and fitting of new cylinders. Care was taken to restore 5025 to its 1934 condition, including its original chimney height. “

Mr Sutherland continued: “The success of the overhaul is due to the small team of Strathspey Railway staff led by Nathan Lightowler, the railway engine shed foreman, and volunteers from the Strathspey Railway and the WEC Watkinson Trust. . “

The Black Five class dominated the operation of the Perth-Inverness line from the mid-1930s until the end of the race.

Meanwhile, the Strathspey Railway is increasing the number of 1st class compartments available on its services from four to 11.

The railway is also adding its officers’ lounge, which includes two lounge compartments that can each accommodate a maximum of six people.

The officers’ lounge is independent from the rest of the train and is assisted by its own flight attendant on board.

You will find more details on the services managed by the railway company here

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