NORTHERN RAILWAY (IRELAND)
CLASS 4-4-0 No. 85 "MERLIN"
Builder: Beyer, Peacock
& Co., Manchester, 1932, works number 6733.
Withdrawn: CIÉ, 1963
GNR(I), GNRB, CIÉ, UFTM
Preservation Career: Main line use, 1985-1989, 1994-2004
Tenders used: GNR(I) Nos 31, 12 and 73
85 Merlin at Portrush with a 'Portrush Flyer' in 1995
No. 85 was built for express
passenger trains on the Dublin - Belfast line, the main line which links
Ireland's two biggest cities. She is on long term loan to the Society from
the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum, Cultra, Co Down, although her tender belongs to us.
This locomotive survived the break
up of the Great Northern Railway in 1958, ending her days on secondary
duties in 1963 after diesel railcars had taken over express services. After
a period in the former Belfast Transport Museum (now part of the UFTM collection),
she underwent extensive renovation in Harland & Wolff's shipyard in
Belfast between 1977 and 1982. Since 1986, the RPSI has used her on tours
all over Ireland, and she is one of only two surviving operational main
line compound locomotives in the British Isles. As built, 85 and her four
sisters (all now scrapped) were unlined black, but the famous GNR sky blue
livery presently carried was applied from the mid 1930's.
No.85 came out of traffic
in 2004 due to the expiry of her 'boiler certificate'. She was display
during our "Summer
Steam" open days for a few years. In August 2009 until it was decided
to explore the possibility of returning her to traffic, and work is ongoing
to determine the extent of repairs needed to the boiler.
In recent years, No.85's route availability
increased, meaning that she was allowed to run to the north coast with
the famous "Portrush Flyer".
Before her 1994 overhaul No.85 ran
with a VS class tender from No.207 "Boyne".
In this August 2009
shot, the locomotive has been seperated from RPSI tender No.73 to allow
cleaning and dismantling work to proceed. The flat wagon in the
foreground carries the boiler and cab from No.131.