Andrew Barclay

By way of a change, this time we’ll take a look at one of the recent additions to the fleet at Apedale. The Kilmarnock company of Andrew Barclay is well-known for building chunky industrial steam locos of various sizes (as seen in the second photo); at one time, no self-respecting Scottish colliery/distillery/quarry would have been complete with at least one Barclay tank engine shuffling a few wagons about. Barclays built relatively small numbers of narrow gauge locos, and even fewer narrow gauge diesels. However, by the early 1970s, they couldn’t afford to be too fussy about what they built. This led to a batch of seven fairly unsophisticated 2’6″ gauge diesels – works numbers 554 to 557 and 560 to 562 – being built for the ICI Nobel’s Explosives works at Ardeer, Scotland. The locos existed outside of the public gaze – not surprisingly -until around 1994 when two of them were sold. These two, numbers 556 and 560, went to a peat extraction company. This company – which changed its name regularly – operated peat mosses at various sites in the south of the Scottish Central Belt. It says a lot for the basic robustness of Barclay’s design that the locos survived the onslaught of peat works life – in the case of number 556, basically unchanged from when it rolled out from Kilmarnock. Peat extraction is not entirely environmentally friendly – although opinions vary on that matter – and has largely ceased in the UK. Consequently, the railway equipment cam up for disposal in 2015. After some discussions, a Trust member bought loco 556; he was keen on this because there isn’t a Barclay in the collection, and also because he used to work for ICI (one suspects the loco will end up restored into ICI livery). The loco is still 2’6″ gauge, but is a runner; the gauge problem means it is limited to about 10 feet of track presently, but doubtless the loco will be regauged in time.
Of the other locos in the batch – 554 and 555 ended up on the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway, 557 at the Almond Valley Railway near Edinburgh and 561 at the ARPG at Dalmellington. 562 seems to have succumbed – but six out of seven survivors isn’t bad?