Scottish Railway Preservation Society
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The Scottish Railway Preservation Society is a charity, whose principal objective is the preservation and advancement of railway heritage in Scotland. The Society was formed in 1961, and it has been actively collecting and displaying railway artifacts of Scottish significance ever since. The Society's headquarters is at Bo'ness, in central Scotland.
The Society is a member of Museums Galleries Scotland (as an Accredited Museum) and of the Heritage Railway Association (as a railway operator). It is managed and operated by volunteers (over 300 out of a membership in excess of 1,000).
The Society undertakes conservation, restoration, repair, maintenance, and (where appropriate) demonstration operation of railway artifacts ranging from small objects to carriages, wagons and locomotives. It is also active in educational and curatorial activities including research, interpretation and outreach.
Bo'ness and Kinneil Railway
The Society operates the Bo'ness and Kinneil Railway, on which the historic collection is demonstrated in action, on Saturdays and Sundays from Easter until the end of October, and daily in July and August (intending visitors should check the website for details).
Scottish Railway Exhibition
Adjacent to Bo'ness Station, the Society operates the Scottish Railway Exhibition (open 7 days a week throughout the summer months), in which the collection is on show. Illustrated displays set out the history of railway construction and operation in Scotland, and restoration activities can be seen in the adjoining workshop. The Society has a specially comprehensive collection of Signal and Telegraph apparatus. Some of this is on display, along with a hands-on demonstration of safety interlocking.
An subsidiary company, SRPS Railtours, operates excursion trains on the main line. These excursion trains are mostly operated within or originating from Scotland. SRPS Railtours uses carriages from the SRPS's large fleet of preserved carriages (currently consisting of Mark 1s and a Mark 2 based in Bo'ness) for its excursions. Since 1970, these trains have travelled over the railway network as far as Wick and Penzance and frequently travel over the scenic West Highland Line and Kyle of Lochalsh Line. The trains are crewed by drivers, guards and sometimes firemen from a train operating company, for example West Coast Railway Company or DB Schenker, with SRPS members working as volunteer stewards and catering staff.
There are over 250 vehicles at Bo'ness, of which 150 are accessioned to the museum collection and are owned by the Scottish Railway Museum Collections Trust.
The oldest steam locomotive is a Neilson-built locomotive of 1876. Other gems include North British Railway C Class 0-6-0 locomotive No.673 "Maude" (currently at the National Railway Museum in York) and Caledonian Railway 0-4-4T No.419.
Carriage and wagon
The carriage collection is made up of 67 in total, including 15 built in or before 1923, six LNER coaches and five to LMS designs. The wagon collection numbers 89 vehicles, and demonstrates the range of traffic that the railways carried.
The Society has a major programme of planned future development, much of it new buildings in which to care for the collection and present it to the public. It is looking to expand its activities so as to increase public awareness and enjoyment of Scottish Railway heritage. The collection offers great development potential.
Just some of the society's mid to long-term future developments may include:
- Construction of a platform at Manuel Junction - opened June 2013
- Maintenance and operation of a fleet of mainline diesel locomotives mainly for hauling SRPS Railtours trains
- Construction of facilities/attractions at Birkhill