Neilson, Reid & Co     Works No 5710    No 1  Lord Roberts 0-6-0T

Neilson Reid 5710 at the Bo'ness & Kinneil Railway - May 2018.jpg

This locomotive was built by Neilson Reid in 1902 and sold new to Coltness Iron Co.

5710 was built to a stock order of 1899 and originally had no rear bunker, only having side bunkers that extended back into the cab.

Neilson Reid (NR) was approached by the Coltness Iron Company who was looking for a locomotive that could operate traffic on the main line and No.5710 was offered for sale. The Coltness Company required more fuel capacity, which led the NR drawing office to amend No.5710 by extending the frames and adding a rear fuel bunker. The date on the works plate (1902) is the date of the sales ledger and not the date of manufacture, which was earlier.

The locomotive became Coltness No.1 and worked internal traffic as well as the Iron Company’s traffic over Caledonian and North British Railway lines in the area around Newmains, Cleland, Chapelhall and Salsburgh. This is why No.1 carries side lamp brackets because of the requirement to comply with Caledonian Railway lamp codes.

As far as can be ascertained the locomotive was always allocated to the main ironworks shed at Newmains and was never outbased at any of the Company’s collieries or ironstone pits.

No.1 was transferred to the National Coal Board Scottish Division (NCB) as part of the Scottish coal industry nationalisation.

No.1 was despatched to the Central West Area (Scottish Area 3) during late 1955 / early 1956 and was recorded as being sent to Twechar Yard from Coltness. This journey would have been made in steam via Coatbridge, Chryston and Kirkintilloch.

Twechar Yard was the local name given to the former central workshops of William Baird and Company, which the NCB had inherited in 1947. The workshops included a heavy machine shop, electrical shop, blacksmith / fabrication shop, a wagon and hutch repair shop together with a locomotive shed that provided motive power for the collieries in the Kelvin Valley and at Gartshore.

No.1 retained its Coltness number in the Central West locomotive plant list and was fitted with electric lighting powered from a Stones turbo-generator mounted on a plate above the RH side bunker. This equipment was supplied by Andrew Barclay and No.17 at Twechar (now at Shed 47) was also fitted with electric lighting at this time. There was some involvement in the fitting of these installations by Andrew Barclay’s staff. The reason for fitting some of the Twechar fleet with electric lighting was that the remaining collieries were in full production and the railway system was working on a 24 hour basis with certain pugs treble shifted. A partial overhaul was undertaken to improve the locomotive’s mechanical condition.

During 1957 No.1 was sent to Bedlay Colliery to allow heavier trains to be worked as this pit was being modernised to increase production.

Recorded as being at Twechar Yard in June 1958 where a full overhaul was undertaken and this included major works on the boiler and firebox. The boiler was sent to Andrew Barclay’s for a complete overhaul, which included the firebox. The welded plate sections in the firebox stem from this overhaul.

Sent back to Bedlay Colliery in 1959 after the overhaul at Twechar was completed. This would have included a period being run-in on various traffic workings on the Twechar system before being despatched to Bedlay. At this time the NCB were still exercising running powers over BR from Twechar to Bedlay and Gartshore to Bedlay so Twechar may have sent No.1 out with a train of Dumbreck or Gartshore coal for washing at Bedlay. There then followed a period of very heavy use at Bedlay on the internal railway there as the pit was now in full production after the modernisation project had been completed. The electric lighting system on the locomotive was noted as being put to good use because double-shift working was often implemented to clear the traffic.

Transferred to the new Central Area January 1962but remained allocated to Bedlay.

Sent from Bedlay to Twechar Yard for repairs during December 1963.

Sent back to Bedlay after an overhaul during September 1964.

A failure occurred at Bedlay that was sufficiently serious for the locomotive to be referred for repairs at a central workshop. As Twechar Yard was being run-down prior to closure in 1965, No.1 was allocated to Shotts Workshops for repairs. Axle bearing damage was the main reason for this stoppage it being deemed more cost-effective to undertake the repairs in a facility that had suitable resources available on-site rather than trying to progress the repairs at the pit. Transfer to and from Shotts Workshops was by road.

Sent back to Bedlay during April 1965 with a further period of heavy use because of high production levels. At this time Bedlay Colliery was supplying various Lanarkshire steel works with high grade coking coal.

Transferred to the new Scottish North Area in March 1967 but remained allocated to Bedlay.

During the period 1966 to 1967 the locomotive suffered a major failure of the LH crosshead and was stored awaiting a decision on whether it was to be repaired. This repair was never sanctioned because colliery closures within the Scottish North Area had released several serviceable pugs that were now surplus to requirements.

In September 1968 the locomotive was presented by the NCB to the Scottish Railway Preservation Society (SRPS).

The locomotive was despatched to Falkirk by rail in scheduled goods trains, sadly hot axleboxes ensued. The journals were machined many years later when an overhaul was commenced at Falkirk, subsequently completed at Bo’ness. The journal machining was undertaken at St.Rollox Works in Glasgow who also re-profiled the tyres on the leading and trailing wheelsets.

The centre driving wheelset was formerly fitted with flangeless tyres and these were replaced by flanged tyres in 1979. This work was undertaken at cost price by the NCB in their Cowdenbeath Central Workshops. Two new austerity tyres were fitted and machined to the same wheel diameters as the leading and trailing wheelsets. The NCB offered to fit new tyres to those wheelsets as well however the SRPS had insufficient funds to pay for this work, which resulted in new tyres being machined down to the normal scrapping size. The Cowdenbeath Pug Shop foreman was almost in tears when he was told what was required.

During the locomotive’s restoration the cylinder block was found to carry a small North British Locomotive Company plate indicating that it had been manufactured in 1939. There is a possibility that this cylinder block was supplied to Coltness as a spare because they had several pugs to the same design as NR 5710, but was never fitted. The cylinder block being transferred to the NCB along with the locomotive. The oral description by some NCB colleagues circa 1975 of the 1958 overhaul at Twechar Yard indicated that major work was undertaken on the frames and cylinders, one individual being sure that the frames were partially dismantled to facilitate cylinder block work.

Restoration of the locomotive was completed at the Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway in 1996 and it became a fully licensed Thomas the Tank Engine replica for events.

After an overhaul the boiler was lifted back onto the frames in  March 2017 and the locomotive returned to service in May of that year.

Neilson Reid 5710 at the Bo'ness & Kinneil Railway - May 2018.jpg 5710 at the Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway – May 2018

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