LEITRIM & NORTHERN COUNTIES RAILWAY LOUGH CLASS 0-6-4T
in 1959 No. 27
BUILT BY : BEYER, PEACOCK
& CO., MANCHESTER, ENGLAND (WKS NO. 7242)
YEAR BUILT : 1949
WITHDRAWN : 1969
'Lough Erne' on display as a static exhibit at Whitehead
on 7th July 1973 as part of an open day. Photo by C P Friel
'Lough Erne' and her sister
'Lough Melvin' were the last steam locomotives built for an Irish 5'3"
gauge railway. They were built by Beyer, Peacock in 1949 for the
Sligo, Leitrim and Northern Counties Railway. The 'Lough' class once
again used the unusual 0-6-4T configuration of the previous 'Sir Henry'
class - 'Sir Henry', 'Enniskillen' and 'Lough Gill', built in 1904, 1905
and 1917 respectively. The 'Lough' class looked somewhat different
but apart from cosmetics there were few significant design changes; the
most notable being cylinders of 1" greater diameter and the substitution
of a screw reverse for the 'Sir Henry' class' lever reverse. Both
engines were painted black with red buffer beams. The brass nameplates
were also painted black, with the raised lettering and borders picked out
At the time the
could not afford to buy the engines and instead leased them from the
After the railway's closure, the other remaining steam engines went for
scrap; however, the Ulster Transport Authority - the body now running
railways and bus routes in Northern Ireland - bought the two 'Lough'
from Beyer, Peacock in 1959 for use as shunting engines. The
had never given numbers to its engines, but now the UTA gave them the
26 ('Lough Melvin') and 27 ('Lough Erne'). They also added straw
coloured lining and the UTA crest. The appearance of the
nameplates was also altered; the red paint was removed from the border
and the lettering, which were then polished. 'Lough Melvin' kept
a black background to her plates, while on 'Lough Erne' the background
was painted red, in the style of NCC nameplates.
worth repeating - while museums, painters and model makers almost
always depict SLNCR engines with red and polished brass nameplates
there is no doubt that 'Lough Erne' was the only engine ever to appear this way - and then only after 1959.
Initially the UTA's new engines were
sent to Adelaide to undertake shunting duties in the Belfast quays and
Grosvenor street goods yard. At this stage parts of 27's rear frames
were cut away to increase the angle through which the bogie would move
and so allow the engine to negotiate tight curves in the quays area.
It was probably also at this time that the steps became bent - more likely
by accident than by design! Later the engines were transferred to York
Road, Belfast, where 'Lough Erne' remained mostly on shunting duties until
withdrawal in 1969, shortly before the end of steam on NIR. During
its time in UTA and NIR ownership 27 was often seen in the company of NCC
class WT 'Jeeps' - like our own No.
4 - which despite being slightly older looked considerably more modern
- after all 'Lough Erne' was a ten-year-old engine almost identical in
design to one built fifty-six years earlier! During this period 27
also met for the first time GSWR
No.186, which was already owned by the RPSI but was at York Road for
maintenance work - and in unofficial use by the UTA!
'Lough Erne', still a UTA
engine, is seen here on Saturday 18th September 1967 hauling the Guinness
engine from Carrickfergus goods shed, where it had been stored, before
working it to our base at Whitehead. The more economical Guinness
engine has now taken the shunting and 'train rides' roles previously filled
by 'Lough Erne'. Later this year the engine was transferred to the
new company Northern Ireland Railways. Picture by JA Lockett.
After acquisition by the
RPSI, she carried out some shunting activities at Whitehead, until her
boiler expired in 1972, the last steaming being on 8th July that year.
On 29th April 1972 she carried Lord Grey of Naunton, the then governor
of Northern Ireland, on the footplate during a visit to Whitehead - see
the gallery page for pictures of this event. She
presently awaits extensive restoration at Whitehead, and is one of only
two surviving items of SL&NCR rolling stock - the other being Railcar
B at Downpatrick.
'Lough Melvin' was withdrawn
in 1967 and sold for scrap in 1968, although not before the nameplates
were cut out from the tanks. These plates are now in the hands of
a group of private collectors. One of the 'Lough Melvin' plates is
at present on display at Headhunters
barber shop and railway museum in Enniskillen, alongside one of the
'Lough Erne' plates which is on loan from the RPSI - parts at least
of two separated sisters reunited once again.
No.27 in store at Whitehead
in 2006. Photo by M S Walsh.
Lough Erne, unusually
out in the open for a shunt to take place in October 2009. Photo by E C
Steam alive in Ireland since 1964