The train now arriving is for Riverside

25 Nov 2009

by Gordon Thomson, Evening Times

She's the grand old lady of steam from Glasgow who is being given a major makeover in time for her final journey to the city's new transport museum.

Six young admirers are helping restore the Mountain Class locomotive after she was found abandoned after lying forgotten for almost 20 years in a South African railway siding.

The First ScotRail apprentices are helping conservationists restore the engine which will showcase the city's engineering skills and the golden age of steam.

The makeover is being carried out in a huge workshop at the Glasgow Museums Resource Centre in Nitshill. The apprentices are on secondment as part of a sponsorship package by FirstGroup which brought the engine back to Glasgow.

ScotRail managing director Steve Montgomery said: "Our apprentices are delighted to be conserving part of Scotland's proud engineering heritage.

"The locomotive's return to Glasgow will give new generations the chance to marvel at this wonderful example of the rail revolution Scotland gave to the world."

He added: "Glasgow's transport collections are of international importance and it is fitting that the locomotive will be at the heart of the new museum."

Bailie Liz Cameron, who chairs Culture and Sport Glasgow, said: "The conserved locomotive will be one of the most talked about exhibits at the Riverside Museum when it opens in 2011.

"The collaboration between FirstGroup, Eura and Glasgow Museums will provide the apprentices with a unique opportunity to work on an exhibit that continues to tell the story of Glasgow's rich industrial heritage and which will be enjoyed by visitors to the museum for decades to come."

Eura Conservation is proud to have been commissioned to undertake the conservation of "one of the largest objects ever acquired by Glasgow Museums."

Project director Richard Baister said: "The whole team is looking forward to delivering the museum's vision for the locomotive." Conservator Cabe Rice added: "It will be a privilege to work on such a high-profile conservation project."

Given a number instead of a name, Locomotive 3007 will take pride of place at the Riverside Museum which is due to open on the banks of the Clyde in two years time.

Clydebuilt with passion and pride as Second World War was ending, this giant of a steam engine was produced by the North British Locomotive Company at Polmadie in Glasgow.

She rolled off the production line in April, 1945, to be immediately shipped off to South Africa, one of a batch of 60 loco giants created to cope with the country's tough terrain and the long distances between stops.

They were metallic workhorses and over the years more than 200 were sent from the city to South Africa.

Loco 3007 was part of the so called Mountain Class and she's a big, big lady. Weighing in at 197 tonnes - that's the equivalent of 50 elephants or 26 double decker buses - she's 74ft long and nearly 13ft tall.

But she had to be a beast of a loco because she was jam packed with 14 tonnes of coal and 6050 gallons of water, the equivalent of 48,400 pints of beer, and took on the dual role of passenger and freight train.

Locomotive 3007 regularly pulled the famous Blue Train between Johannesburg and Cape Town before being taken out of passenger service and spending much of the 80s doing shunting work in Bloemfontein, the provincial capital of Free State.

But the steam engine from Glasgow was derailed in an accident in 1988 and was left sitting idle for almost 20 years destined for the scrap yard until saved by train preservationists.

The grand old lady of steam, which had seen better days, then made the 6000-mile journey home calling at George Square two years ago to help actor Robbie Coltrane launch a public appeal to raise £5million towards the £74m bill for the new Zaha Hadid-designed Riverside Museum.

Robbie who was dwarfed as he stood on front of Loco 3007 said: "I remember as a boy things like this trundling through Glasgow.

"It was pretty damn exciting. The new Transport Museum by the Clyde will also be exciting and people will come to Glasgow to see it."

Reproduced with the permission of The Herald and Times Group.

  • The conserved locomotive will be exhibited at the Riverside Museum when it opens in 2011

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  • Riverside Museum