Strathspey Railway steam locomotive unveiled in Aviemore after gigantic restoration

The £520,000 scheme will see the oldest ‘Black Five’ class locomotive return to passenger service after a 28-year absence.

It is due to haul trains again on the ten-mile heritage line to Broomhill, near Nethy Bridge, next month.

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Its owners said the engine was “the oldest and finest example of a London Midland and Scottish Black Five”.

The rebuilt engine. Image: Vanilla Moon Photography

The engine is similar to those that carry the Jacobite summer service between Fort William and Mallaig.

The WEC Watkinson Trust, owners of 5025, praised “the skill and many hours of hard work” of Strathspey Railway’s engineering staff and volunteers.

Chairman Neil Sinclair said: “This is the most significant engineering work carried out on a locomotive in the Highlands since Lochgorm Works in Inverness was limited to light repairs in 1929.

“The hauling of 5025 trains on the Strathspey Railway is also a major event in the history of the railway.

The locomotive arriving at Boat of Garten station in the 1980s. Image: Strathspey Railway

“This means Highland passengers will be able to travel behind a member of the Black Five class which dominated train operation in the region.

from 1934 (when 5025 himself first worked here) for almost 30 years.

“The engine is also a link to the end of an era on British railways as it was one of the last steam locomotives to be retired in 1968.”

The locomotive survived one of the first fatal rail accidents after the outbreak of World War II when it collided with another train at Bletchley in Buckinghamshire in October 1939.

LMS 5025 before being repainted. Image: Strathspey Railway

LMS 5025 was carrying a passenger express from London to Stranraer which crashed into an Inverness train, killing five people and injuring more than 30 others.

The restoration project included a major boiler rebuild, two new cylinders and the construction of a new tender tank at Riley Engineering in Bury.

Funding came from the Strathspey Railway Company, Strathspey Railway Trust, Heritage Lottery Fund, Strathspey Railway Association and a “significant” amount raised from supporters through appeals.

It had been hoped to return the engine to service in 2015, but the scale of the work required extended the timeline while funding was raised.

The trust said: “Due to a very tight budget, the original intention was to get 5025 back on the road with the minimum work necessary.

“However, it is an iconic locomotive and very early on the sensible decision was made to restore it to ‘like new’ condition.

“It involved considerable extra work and expense and left the Watkinson Trust desperate for funds.

“We were very late waiting for the boiler.

“This pushed the completion date back to summer 2020.

“Due to the covid lockdown, this has been further delayed, with the completion date pushed back to summer 2021.

“The original budget of £354,050 has been spent wisely and carefully.

“However further work on the boiler cost an additional £39,345, new cylinders and frame repairs £33,350, and other work such as a new cab, injectors and super heaters at over 22 £500.”

The completion of this work resulted in the locomotive running under its steam in May for the first time since 1993.

Jose P. Rogers