Bob Ife: Hope for Borders rail steam dream

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It has been with the greatest of interest that progress has been followed on the building anew of the Borders Railway, through Midlothian to the present terminus at Tweedbank. All possible success is wished for its future.

What you may not be aware of is that another part of the railway history of the Borders is also being “built anew”, in the form of one of the class of locomotives that worked the route in the days of steam – namely a BR Standard Class 6 locomotive, commonly known as a Clan, below.

These were a small class of ten locomotives, allocated between Carlisle Kingmoor and Polmadie depots, which worked over the whole of the Waverley route, as it was then known, of which the current reincarnation as the Borders Railway is the northern 30 miles.

Some may remember seeing these locomotives in service, or might possibly be retired members of train crew who worked with them during their service in the 1950s and 60s.

Sadly, none survived into the preservation era, so a volunteer-led company (and registered charity) has been formed to build a new Clan, from the original BR drawings, to be known by the name and number 72010 Hengist – the next scheduled name and number in the original build plan.

Numerous parts of the locomotive have already been manufactured, though, as yet, very few have been assembled into anything that remotely resembles a completed locomotive. Once completed, however, how fitting it would be to see her pulling excursion traffic along the route where her forbears worked, bringing visitors to see the delights of Tweedbank, Melrose Abbey and the other numerous visitor attractions that Edinburgh and the Borders have to offer.

Those of us currently involved in the work of building Hengist would love her to run on this railway, but this will not be for some years at the current rate of progress. To reduce the time required to build, test and run in the locomotive requires a substantial injection of funding, either in the form of members making regular contributions, individuals or organisations making donations or, ideally, corporate sponsorship.

All funding received will be put toward the manufacture and assembly of further locomotive components; all, as far as it is possible, sourced here in the UK – our stated aim being that, as far as is humanly possible, No 72010 will be “Made in Great Britain”.

For further details, e-mail info@theclanproject.org or write to us at PO Box 660, Swansea SA1 9LU. Log on to www.theclanproject.org

Bob Ife is a train driver and member of the management team of The Clan Project