Great Northern Railway (Ireland) Q class express 4-4-0 No. 131 has been officially launched into traffic following the completion of a £400,000 overhaul.
No. 131, which was built by Neilson Reid in Glasgow in 1901, was withdrawn from traffic in Dublin in 1963, and after a period in storage, was first displayed on a plinth at Dundalk and then taken apart during an abortive first restoration attempt.
Irish Rail gave No. 131 to the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland after it arrived at the latter’s Whitehead base in 2003 as a kit of parts.
Generating Rural Opportunities within South Antrim (GROW) assembled a funding package for the inside-cylinder locomotive’s restoration via the Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme, which is part-funded by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs and the European Union.
Many new components had to be made to replace the missing ones. The rebuilding project involved the professional staff of Heritage Engineering Ireland, the RPSI’s engineering subsidiary, as well as society volunteers.
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