Neilson & Co     Works No 2203       NCB  No 13  Kelton Fell 0-4-0ST

Neilson 2203 Bo'ness & Kinniel Railway  August 2013.jpg

This locomotive was built to a standard Neilson design in 1876 to work on tightly curved tracks with limited clearance.  The price for the locomotive was £1,263 10s od. In the same year Neilsons sold another four locomotives of this design to the Caledonian Railway, who found them so useful that between 1885 and 1908 they built 34 more, to an almost unchanged design. The North British Railway did the same – they bought two locomotives from Neilson in 1882, and by 1899 they had built 36 for themselves at Cowlairs Works.

2203 was delivered new to the Scottish iron masters William Baird & Co., of Gartsherrie Ironworks. It was employed on the Rowrah & Kelton Fell Railway which connected Baird’s hematite mines at Knockmurton and Kelton Fell in Cumberland with the main railway system at Rowrah. The line was only three miles long and ran within two miles of Ennerdale Lake and climbed 300 feet to the Knockmurton Mine at 850 feet above sea level. At Rowrah the line linked into the Whitehaven, Cleator & Egremont Railway and the Cleator & Workington Junction Railway. The Rowrah & Kelton Fell Mineral Railway opened in 1877 and closed in 1926 and the track was lifted in 1934.

When the ore was worked out in 1914 Kelton Fell the locomotive was transferred to Baird’s Scottish coalmines, where it lost its name and was numbered 13. Working in the Twechar area, ownership passed to the National Coal Board (NCB) in 1947 upon the nationalisation of the industry.

The locomotive then worked at Auchengeich, Cardowan, Blantyre and Canderigg Collieries before finishing its working life at Gartshore 9/11 pits in March 1968.

In 1968 No.13 was donated by the NCB to the Scottish Railway Preservation Society (SRPS).

The restoration undertaken by SRPS at Falkirk restored lining and details in accordance with the arrangement shown by the builder’s works photograph, but as this is a black and white negative, there is no knowledge of the original colour. A mechanical lubricator, vacuum brake and cab seats were fitted at that time, luxuries not required by Baird’s or by the NCB. The dumb buffers fitted at some point by Bairds were replaced by NBR spring buffers (similar to the originals) recovered from J36 Class locomotives 65288 and 65345.

The locomotive is now on static display at the Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway.

Neilson 2203 Bo'ness & Kinniel Railway  August 2013.jpg
2203 at the Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway – August 2013
68095 and Neilson & Co 2203 inside the Museum of Scottish Railways at Bo’ness – May 2017

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