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While the main focus of the Strathspey Railway is running steam trains for the paying public, a small but dedicated group of volunteers has been restoring other items of heritage interest in spare moments between working on the loco fleet and improving locoshed infrastructure and facilities.

The current project is a Ruston Hornsby 48DS diesel shunter of 1948 which worked at Longmorn distillery until 1980 (even though Dr Beeching had closed the adjacent main line in 1967). Because it was presented to the Strathspey Railway repainted with advertisements for Queen Anne blended scotch whisky, it is known to most people as “Queen Anne”.

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This Blog was started over 5 years after the project began, so most of the initial blog entries are retrospective.

Queen Anne History

NB.  Please also refer to the excellent Great North of Scotland Railway Association article of August 2011, reproduced here with kind permission of the GNSRA - click to view PDF file.

"Queen Anne" is a Ruston Hornsby 48 DS diesel shunter, works number 265618 built in Lincoln in 1948. The prototype for this class was built in 1935 using a Lister engine and bought by Heinz Ltd. The design was developed over the following years and used the Ruston 4VRO engine. In 1946 the class was improved by the use of a Ruston 4VRHL engine developing 48 HP. Subsequent changes mainly involved the cab until the introduction of the 4YC engine from 1957. This design of shunter was one of the smallest standard gauge locos in Britain.

Queen Anne was delivered new to Longmorn Distillery on 11th October 1948 and spent all its life there until it was donated to the Strathspey Railway in 1980.
Ruston 48DS at Longmorn distillery
Queen Anne at Longmorn in 1977
Longmorn lies about three miles south of Elgin on the GNSR line from Craigellachie to Elgin via Rothes (closed in 1969). There are three distilleries in this area, all built by John Duff. Glenlossie was built in 1876 and lies about one-and-a-half miles west. Longmorn was built in 1894 and Benriach, which lies adjacent to Longmorn, was built in 1898.
Ruston 48DS at Longmorn distillery
Another view of the distillery
There was a boom in whisky distilling in the late 19th century which led to overproduction and the "Pattison Crash" of 1898. This led to many distilleries going bankrupt and being bought up at bargain prices by others. Longmorn and Benriach were bought by James Grant and Glenlossie by H.M.S. MacKay. MacKay built the siding from Glenlossie to the GNSR at Longmorn station and the Grants subsequently connected their distilleries too. Benriach ceased distilling after only a few years, but its maltings were used to supply the adjacent Longmorn distillery. Benriach was bought by a small independent company in 2004 and is now a highly successful distiller of quality Speyside malt whisky.
Ruston 48DS at Longmorn distillery
QA hauling open wagons and an aluminium-clad malt van
This private network of sidings received fuel etc. from the main line and sent out filled casks, as well as moving malt from the Benriach maltings to Longmorn and moving casks to and from bonded warehouses. Glenlossie bought an Aveling and Porter 0-4-0 geared locomotive in 1896 (named GLENLOSSIE), and ordered a second one of the same type in 1924 as a replacement. Longmorn bought a 2-2-0 McLaren in 1896, which was basically a traction engine with flanged wheels. In 1948 the Ruston 48DS replaced both steam locomotives which were scrapped the following year.
A similar Aveling & Porter to Glenlossie - see below for copyright.
The owners of Glenlossie severed their rail connection in 1956. Even after the main line at Longmorn closed in 1969, the small local rail network continued to be used by Longmorn and Benriach for the transfer of malt and casks between the various buildings on site. By 1980 the railway system was getting worn out and the owners, Chivas Bros., decided to close the system and donate everything to heritage railways. The track, the Ruston loco and two aluminium clad vans went to the Strathspey Railway and two 5-plank open wagons went to the Brechin Railway. A photograph exists of the locomotive with the distillery staff and barrels of Longmorn and Benriach whisky dated 1980, which was possibly taken when the railway closed.

Queen Anne had been delivered in 1948 painted in Ruston Green with white lining and white buffers and a Ruston & Hornsby crest on the cab sides. Prior to donation it was repainted with advertisements for Queen Anne whisky, a premium blended whisky at the time. A photograph of it at Aviemore shows the adverts with a greenish surround (possibly the original green), although subsequent photos show it with a beige surround and different lining, so it must have been partially repainted at Aviemore.

After only a few years use at Aviemore, it was abandoned in a siding. There were rumours of gearbox problems or frost damage, but neither of these seem true. It was likely that other more powerful locomotives became available and superseded it.

Much of the information in this article has been obtained from the book "Iron Rails and Whisky Trails" by Ian Philip Peaty (2013) and the article in "Great North Review" (Aug 2011).

Glenlossie photo by TruckinTim with Flickr Creative Commons Licence

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