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”.

To find out more about our aims, follow this link or click the [About] button above.

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

Balmenach History

"Balmenach" is an 0-4-0ST built by Andrew Barclay & Sons Ltd of Kilmarnock in 1936, works no 2020. A large number of these locomotives were built for use on standard gauge industrial railways all over Britain.

Balmenach at Boat of Garten
 No. 2 Balmenach was bought by Scottish Malt Distillers Ltd and delivered new to the Balmenach distillery near Cromdale in 1936 and stayed there until 1968, when it was transferred to Dailuaine distillery further up the Speyside line. There it joined sister locomotive No. 1 Dailuaine, works number 2073 of 1939. The locomotives were transferred to Carron distillery as the Speyside line was closed to freight traffic in stages, eventually becoming isolated from the main line rail network.  Both locomotives were obtained by the Strathspey Railway in the 1970s. Dailuaine is now plinthed at "Dewar’s World of Whisky" in Aberfeldy.

The story goes that once the locomotives were at Carron, the engineering department of SMD who were based in Elgin would periodically visit Carron distillery to steam Balmenach and run her up and down the short length of track remaining (Dailuaine was non-operational by this time).  This continued until the auditors noticed that there was a steam locomotive on the books but the company had no rail-connected distilleries any more.  The board subsequently told the engineering department to dispose of the locomotives and a call was made to Eric Cooper of the newly-established Strathspey Railway.

A hand-over ceremony was arranged and Balmenach was steamed for the last time at Carron, and celebratory drams were provided.   It must have been a memorable occasion, although some of those present may only have had a vague recollection of events by the following morning.

The distillery at Balmenach was established by James McGregor in 1824. The distillery was taken over in 1897 by Glenlivet Distillers and a railway about a mile long was built to connect the distillery to the sidings at Cromdale station on the GNSR Speyside line from Boat of Garten to Keith. In that year an Aveling & Porter traction-engine type locomotive similar to the one at Glenlossie was delivered. In 1930 the distillery was again taken over by Scottish Malt Distillers Ltd (SMD). In 1936 SMD purchased Balmenach to replace the ageing Aveling & Porter loco, which was scrapped.

Balmenach was painted pale green with white and black lining and the words "Scottish Malt Distillers Ltd Balmenach Distillery" on the saddle tanks in shaded white lettering.

The distillery at Dailuaine was also acquired by SMD in 1930 and the locomotive Daluaine was purchased in 1939 to replace an earlier Barclay 0-4-0ST of 1897. The distillery rail network connected with the Speyside line at a point between Carron and Aberlour. However the transfer sidings were at Carron station which meant that special arrangements had to be made with the LNER and subsequently BR to operate the locomotive over the 1mile of main line to Carron station.

Dailuaine was painted green with black lining and the word "Dailuaine" on the saddle tanks in shaded yellow lettering.

Balmenach initially operated on the Strathspey Railway in its original livery. After its boiler ticket expired it was placed in a siding at Boat of Garten station. Its shabby paintwork was later overpainted in plain green. It was moved to Aviemore around 2012 for inspection and is currently stored in the headshunt at Aviemore.

The locomotive is complete but has corrosion on some cab sheets and the bottom and sides of the saddle tanks. The cab sheets are easily replaced and the saddle tank might be repairable, but will need further inspection to ascertain the extent of the corrosion. The boiler is fitted with brass tubes and the cost of refurbishment is unknown, but would probably need a donation to finance it. There is also corrosion in the smokebox. Apart from the boiler, the rest of the locomotive could probably restored at very little material cost, but a considerable amount of volunteer time.

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