Fife Heritage Railway History

 

The Lochty Private Railway

The Lochty Private Railway Company was formed in 1966 by John Cameron with himself and Mrs. Cameron as directors, and friends as shareholders.

It was at this time that the full significance of his newly acquired Lochty Farm occurred to him, as across its land ran the trackbed of the last 3/4 mile former East Fife Central Railway, a line which was built about 1898 to serve coal pits and agricultural interests in the area. Rumour has it, that it was in fact built to keep the ‘Caley’ out of Fife!

The line when in operation prior to its closure in 1965, was a freight only branch line some fifteen miles long, starting at East Fife Central Junction which is situated midway between Leven and Cameron Bridge. The line winds up through the ‘Highlands of Fife’ to an altitude of 550 feet above sea level before dropping to around 450 feet at the Lochty terminus. There were four Goods Stations on the line, at Kennoway, Montrave, Largoward and Lochty. In addition there were two farm sidings at Letham and at Knightsward. From a loop a few hundred yards north of Largoward was a short line to a colliery.

We now come to 1967 when Mr. Cameron built a shed some 75 ft long to house No. 9 and relaid 3/4 mile of track; one pair of points and one line leading into the shed, the other to the old loading bank which was modified to serve as a platform. Every Sunday afternoon during the summer No. 9 was steamed, running up and down the line for the benefit of the many photographers and public spectators.

The 1972 season was even more successful than the previous one with the number of passengers carried topping the seven thousand mark for the first time. Towards the end of 1972 the possibility of moving 60009 ‘Union of South Africa’ back to B.R. metals was beginning to dawn with the lifting of the ‘Steam Ban’ on selected routes south of the Border. At the end of January 1973 two routes were allocated in Scotland for the running of steam special trains. Since No. 9 worked the last steam special in Scotland in 1967 it is most fitting that she pulled the first stream trip after the ‘Ban’ was lifted. That 1st tour took place on May 5th and No. 9 proved she was still capable of handling nine coaches at speeds of up to sixty miles per hour over the twisty Edinburgh to Dundee main line.

When it became known that No. 9 was to be returned to the main line, the Fife Locamotives Preservation Group took up the task of locating a suitable locomotive for preservation, which would also be capable of working the summer service on the Lochty Private Railway.

W.P.R. No. 16’s career with the Wemyss Private Railway commenced around 1963 when she was purchased from the War Dept. (W.D. No. 147) to replace the previous No. 16 which had just been scrapped. The Michael Colliery Disaster, closure of the Denbeath Washery and Lochhead Colliery brought about the closure of the Wemyss Private Railway early in 1971, and by late Autumn that year, W.P,R. Nos. 15 and 16 (saddle tanks) and No. 17 (sidetank) had arrived in Muir’s scrapyard near Thorton. She lay there somewhat forlorn for about eighteen months till Saturday 7th April, 1973, when she was lifted by a 125 ton crane and lowered onto the transporter which had only a few days previously carried the ‘Union of South Africa’ from Lochty to Ladybank. She was then taken under police escort via the coast road to Anstruther and on up to Lochty.

When the Lochty Private Railway closed in 1992 the Fife Railway Preservation Group was reconstituted as a charitable company limited by guarantee as the Kingdom of Fife Railway Preservation Society. The aim was to run a preservation site in the Kingdom of Fife that would take over, operate and maintain the preserved railway items formerly used at the Lochty Railway. The society’s collection was moved away from Lochty in 1993 to Methil Power station and Barclay’s Yard in Lower Methil for storage. During the next seven years the society obtained funding to buy the twenty acre Kirkland Yard site from British Railway Property Board, and has drawn up plans to develop a Railway Heritage Centre on the site. Funding from the heritage Lottery Fund, Entrust and Fife Council is now in place to allow phase one of the project to proceed. We also intend to add to this collection in ways relevant to the railway history of Fife, and to build an archive of historical information about the railways of Fife. We own a 21 acre former railway marshalling yard and have constructed half a mile of track plus substantial sidingsOur restoration work is conducted in the “Colin Munro” shed which is well equipped with engineering machinery and work space