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"V" CLASS 4-4-0 No. 85 "MERLIN"

Builder: Beyer, Peacock & Co., Manchester, 1932, works number 6733. 

Withdrawn: CIÉ, 1963

Companies: GNR(I), GNRB, CIÉ, UFTM

Preservation Career: Main line use, 1985-1989, 1994-2004, 2014 - present

Tenders used: GNR(I) Nos 31, 12 and 73

Merlin at Lisburn, 4th May 2014

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.

No.85 returned to main line passenger service in 2014.

No.85 launches the RPSI's 50th Anniversary events on 26th March 2014
GNR(I) Compound No.85 'Merlin' runs round the Portrush Flyer.
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".
GNR(I) Compound No.85 'Merlin' runs light engine to Belfast Central.
Before her 1994 overhaul No.85 ran with a VS class tender from No.207 "Boyne".

Merlin at Portrush with a 'Portrush Flyer' in 1995
GNR(I) Compound No.85 'Merlin' runs light engine to Belfast Central.
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.

Keeping Steam alive in Ireland since 1964

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