Locomotive steams again for first time in 44 years

Restored locomotive Carmyllie Pilot
Locomotive Carmyllie Pilot outside an engine shed in Aviemore following its restoration. [Iain Smith]

A 74-year-old steam locomotive has been returned to working order following more than two decades of restoration.

The Ivatt Class 2 2-6-0 engine - No. 46464 - was one of five built in Crewe, Cheshire, in 1950.

It spent most of its working life based at Dundee Tay Bridge Steam Shed 62B, operating on services in Angus and Fife.

Locomotive Carmyllie Pilot before its restoration
No. 46464 at Bridge of Dun in June 2000 before volunteers started any major work on it. [Iain Smith]

For the last 24 years a small team of volunteers has been working on getting it running again.

Last month, at Aviemore in the Highlands, it puffed down a railway line for the first time in 44 years.

Iain Smith, one of those involved in its restoration, said: "It was very emotional to see it up and running again."

Holes being prepared for rivets inside Carmyllie Pilot
Ian Hopley, part owner of Carmyllie Pilot, preparing holes for rivets to attach the smokebox to the boiler. [Iain Smith ]

During its working life, the locomotive was known as Carmyllie Pilot, and named after a village in Angus.

It was used for passenger and freight services and had stints in Aberdeenshire, including on Fraserburgh's St Combs line, making visits to Peterhead and Maud.

Carmyllie Pilot was withdrawn from service in August 1966.

Interior of Carmyllie Pilot during its rebuild
The cab's interior during the rebuild. [Iain Smith]

It was bought by former LNER railway engineer Ian Fraser, whose family ran an engineering company in Arbroath in Angus, after he became friends with former Carmyllie Pilot driver Sandy Whyte.

Mr Fraser was a keen steam enthusiast and even won a planning wrangle to build a house with an area big enough to house a traction engine.

Carmyllie Pilot had spells on loan to Dundee City Museums and then from 1978 at Aviemore's Strathspey Railway, where it operated on a heritage railway until a problem put it out of action.

The engine was returned to Mr Fraser's ownership in 1989.

An evening shot inside the shed at Aviemore during the rebuild
An evening shot taken inside Aviemore shed in May 2023 shortly after Carmyllie Pilot's boiler had returned from repair at Northern Steam Engineering Ltd in Stockton-on-Tees. [Carmyllie Pilot Company Ltd]
Locomotive Carmyllie Pilot during its rebuilt
The locomotive was rebuilt in Aviemore following restoration work in Angus. [Iain Smith]

The volunteer-run Carmyllie Pilot Company Ltd was set up in 2000 to restore it to working order.

Mr Fraser died in 1992, but his family continued to take an interest in and also supported the restoration.

Steam locomotives
Carmyllie Pilot alongside LMS Black 5 5025, the oldest working example of its class, and 1952 Swindon-built Ivatt Class 2 2-6-0 No. 46512. [Iain Smith]

Much of the restoration was done at Bridge of Dun, near Montrose, with many replacement parts being made from scratch - including new cab sides, running plates and smokebox.

Mr Smith said: "It was like a giant Meccano kit at our site at one time."

Strathspey Railway Company and the Association has helped with the restoration over the last four years.

Carmyllie Pilot was rebuilt and repainted in its original livery at Aviemore where it is now based.

Mr Smith said: "We've accomplished what we set out to do 24 years ago."

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