By Hugh Dougherty
STEAM returned to the normally diesel-operated Leadhills & Wanlockhead Railway over the weekend of July 29-30.
Nick Williams and his support crew brought Andrew Barclay 0-4-0T Jack from the locomotive’s base at the Leighton Buzzard Railway to tackle the climb to Hillend summit.
The summit, at Glengonnar Halt, stands at 1498ft above sea level and is the highest point reached by an adhesion railway in the UK, but the five-ton engine, which dates from 1903, showed its mettle, and ran for 35 miles over the two days, propelling the line’s normal three-coach passenger rake, up the stiff gradient with flying colours.
Jack, which made the 300-mile eight-hour journey north to Leadhills on Graham Morris’s, 1972-built Atkinson, tractor and trailer unit, was unloaded, already lit up and raising steam, at 9am on the Saturday, and headed the first train of the day at 10.10am.
It climbed to Glengonnar in fine style, raising the echoes against the wild Lowther Hills, which stood in remarkable contrast to the grime of Edinburgh’s Granton gasworks, where the locomotive began its career.
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