Enjoy a Run on May Day With a Black Beauty Steam Engine
Since her hauling her first ever passenger trains in her existence at Christmas, Orenstein and Koppel built steam locomotive No. 1 retired to the worksheds to be fully painted out and lined by veteran DCDR painter Cyril Leathers from Ardglass.
While it was hoped that No. 1 would make her fully-painted debut on the popular Easter Eggspress trains, the very unseasonable weather with heavy snow and minus-degree temperatures meant that the job had to be put on hold until the temperature improved.
While it’s still hardly “exam weather”, and you’re looking for something to do, why not look at the either the rain dribbling down a vintage railway carriage window, or shelter from the cold outside as you’re snuggly inside travelling through the County Down countryside.
Warm teas and coffees, as well as lots of buns, at highly competitive rates, will be served all day onboard a buffet carriage parked at Inch Abbey station; if travelling in to the town from Inch Abbey the return journey can be made on any of the services. The “Thomas the Tank Engine” model railway will be back as usual.
“No. 1 is one of two sister engines at the DCDR, and was built in the mid 1930’s by Berlin-based Orenstein and Koppel for the Irish Sugar Company (Comlucht Suicre Eireann) for use in their factories at Mallow, Thurles and Tuam. There were a total of nine of these engines built, three for each factory), and they were used to transfer sugar beet wagons from the main line sidings in the factory complexes for processing.
“Even though German built, they are also a legacy of early post-partition Ireland, as normally Irish firms would have ordered new locomotives from Great Britain, but de Valera’s Irish Free State was engaged in an ‘economic war’ with the UK and so the order went to Germany instead, leading to these very continental looking locomotives appearing on the Emerald Isle. It is believed that the last time No. 1 was steamed was in 1958.
“After withdrawal from service, in 1960 the engines were sent to Dalkey Station, south of Dublin, for storage with a view to being moved to England for preservation. This project did not work out (due to the key players finding out that the width between the rails in Ireland is different to that in England!) and the locomotives were moved to Ballynahinch Junction for storage in 1978, as part of an attempt to resurrect this branch line as a heritage line. When this scheme failed to get off the ground the locomotives were purchased from their owner and moved to Downpatrick a decade later in the late 1980’s.”
The Lapland Express last December was the first time in No.1’s life that it will have hauled passengers, instead of wagons full of sugar beet.