It’s a big day for our steam fans today – as it’s not just Flying Scotsman that needed a big overhaul, its baby Irish cousin with German parentage also needs some TLC. Our locomotive O&K No. 3’s overhaul has taken a big step forward today – as its boiler has been shipped off for major work to Heritage Engineering Ireland Ltd, based at the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland in Whitehead.
No. 3’s frames and boiler were shunted out of its resting place in the Maghera Shed on Sunday 3rd January, and stored temporarily in the Carriage Gallery until they could be moved onto a truck for its onward journey.
No. 3 was built by the German firm Orenstein & Koppel in the 1930s, and spent most of her working life shunting beat wagons in the sugar beet factory in Mallow before being withdrawn, and after being restored from scrap condition gave over a decade of service on our line between 2000 and 2012.
But steam locomotives, being giant kettles, need major work carried out to keep them running roughly every ten years.
Our aim is that both O&Ks will be in service in time for the 30th anniversary of our first ever passengers trains, which were run in December 1987.
The cost is liable to be around £25,000, and our “Steamed Up” Appeal has raised nearly £2000 towards that – but we still need to raise more and welcome your donations to get her going again (hint hint) – see our donations page for details!
Work continues apace on the Bundoran Jct Signal Cabin – or Downpatrick East, as we should maybe call it! The barge boards have gone on recently, and don’t they look well? Look our for more updates on this soon. Thanks to our friends in Heritage Lottery Fund (NI) for funding this work.
A new appeal has been launched to find an original booking office clock stolen from the railway museum in the 1990s.
When reported to the police there were no photographs of it to circulate before, however old camcorder footage at the end of a tape has now emerged of the clock and a new appeal has been launched.
In an appeal, Downpatrick and County Down Railway said, “This Belfast & County Down Railway – the original company that operated the railway before it closed in 1950 – booking office clock would have originally hung in one of the stations on the old BCDR network between Newcastle and Belfast.
“It was spotted in an antique shop and bought by a number of volunteers who chipped in together to buy it for the museum in 1990 for public display. The railway was only a couple of years old and it was one of our earliest artefacts.
“But only a few years later burglars stole it from the station. Since then our security has been significantly improved throughout the site and museum, with the railway recently being awarded over £3,000 in grant aid from the Northern Ireland Museums Council for further improvements.
“As you can imagine this theft was a terrible blow to the volunteers who’d chipped in to save it for the museum.
“It’s not a particularly rare design, it’s a relatively standard design from the makers Ansonia. It has an octagon shaped face, and a pointed case, but what makes it special is that it had the initials “BCDR” handwritten on the dial, presumably done by one of the old BCDR staff members, as shown in the closeup in the video – it’s that provenance that was important to us.
“In the 20 years that have passed it’s never been recovered, either privately or by the police. And until this footage recently turned up no one had a photo of it.
“Given its provenance there’s a very high chance it’s still out there, maybe with a collector who innocently purchased it not knowing it was stolen, possibly locally, possibly outside Northern Ireland.”
Maybe we’ll be lucky and it will be recovered and put back on public display in the museum where you can come and see it. Contact the local police at PSNI Down or on the non-emergency number 101.
Made any New Years Resolutions for 2016? How about a resolution to pick up a new hobby?
The Downpatrick & Co. Down Railway is maintained and operated entirely by volunteers and we’re always on the look-out for more help.
You don’t even need to be a real ‘rail-buff’ either, but if you’ve a passion for restoration work or helping run a business there there’s bound to be something that’ll interest you – whatever your background or skills. It also looks great on your CV.
We are also very keen to recruit people interested in joinery and woodwork who can join our carriage team – with a bit more help we could get all three carriages currently in the restoration workshops completed *this year*, and that would be a fantastic achievement.
But there’s also trackwork, mechanical engineering, fundraising, all sorts of disciplines.
Our volunteering days are usually Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, there’s no set hours or minimum days requirement.