Highland Railway Ben Class
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No. 14416 Ben a’Bhuird, at Inverness Locomotive Depot 22 August 1948, shortly prior to withdrawal.
Despite the large and small tags, there was actually little difference between the two groups, the most crucial being larger boilers with an increase in tube heating surface. Cylinder and wheel dimensions were identical.
The class was originally designed by Peter Drummond, whose elder (and better known) brother Dugald had been in the company's locomotive department in earlier years and was at that time Chief Mechanical Engineer of the London and South Western Railway.
In appearance they were fairly typical Drummond family products with the stiffener across the cab roof. They were also inside cylindered, almost uniquely among HR bogie locomotives.
|HR No.||Name||Manufacturer||Built||Withdrawn||LMS No.||BR No.||Notes|
|1||Ben-y-Gloe||Dübs & Co. 3685||July 1898||February 1949||14397||54397||Renamed Ben Y’Gloe in 1939. Withdrawn before BR number applied|
|2||Ben Alder||Dübs & Co. 3686||July 1898||February 1953||14398||54398||Set aside for preservation, but scrapped in 1967|
|3||Ben Wyvis||Dübs & Co. 3687||July 1898||May 1952||14399||54399|
|4||Ben More||Dübs & Co. 3688||February 1899||October 1946||14400||—|
|5||Ben Vrackie||Dübs & Co. 3689||February 1899||October 1948||14401||54401||Withdrawn before BR number applied|
|6||Ben Armin||Dübs & Co. 3690||February 1899||December 1939||14402||—|
|7||Ben Attow||Dübs & Co. 3691||February 1899||February 1949||14403||54403||Withdrawn before BR number applied|
|8||Ben Clebrig||Dübs & Co. 3692||February 1899||October 1950||14404||54404|
No. 1 was originally named Ben Nevis for its works portrait, an action that attracted the ire of the board as it was in the territory of a competitor (the North British Railway). It was renamed before entering service.
The Highland Railway built another nine during 1899–1900 at their own Lochgorm works:
|HR No.||Name||Built||Withdrawn||LMS No.||BR No.||Notes|
|9||Ben Rinnes||July 1899||September 1944||14405||—|
|10||Ben Slioch||August 1899||July 1947||14406||—|
|11||Ben Macdhui||November 1899||December 1931||14407||—|
|12||Ben Hope||April 1900||July 1947||14408|
|13||Ben Alisky||June 1900||April 1950||14409||54409||Withdrawn before BR number applied|
|14||Ben Dearg||August 1900||December 1949||14410||54410||Withdrawn before BR number applied|
|15||Ben Loyal||February 1900||October 1936||14411||—|
|16||Ben Avon||February 1901||April 1947||14412||—|
|17||Ben Alligan||February 1901||December 1933||14413||—|
Finally, three more were built by the North British Locomotive Company of Glasgow in 1906.
|HR No.||Name||NBL Serial||Built||Withdrawn||LMS No.||BR No.||Notes|
|38||Ben Udlaman||17398||April 1906||December 1933||14414||—|
|41||Ben Bhach Ard||17399||July 1906||May 1948||14415||54415||Withdrawn before BR number applied|
|47||Ben a'Bhuird||17400||July 1906||September 1948||14416||54416||Withdrawn before BR number applied|
In 1908 a larger version appeared, initially four examples from North British Locomotive, with two more the following year
|HR No.||Name||NBL serial||Built||Withdrawn||LMS No.||BR No.||Notes|
|61||Ben na Caillich||18269||May 1908||May 1936||14417||—||Renamed Ben na Caillach in 1926|
|63||Ben Mheadhoin||18270||May 1908||December 1932||14418||—|
|66||Ben Mholach||18271||May 1908||October 1935||14419||—||Renumbered 64 in 1909|
|68||Ben a'Chait||18272||May 1908||April 1934||14420||—||Renumbered 65 in 1909|
|60||Ben Breac Mhor||18803||May 1909||October 1932||14421||—||Renamed Ben Bhreac 'Mhor in 1924|
|62||Ben a'Chaoruinn||18804||May 1909||March 1937||14422||—||Renamed Ben Achaoruinn in 1926, then Ben a'Chaoruinn at unknown date|
Grouping and Nationalisation
All of these locomotives survived to be taken over by the LMS at the Grouping in 1923. The Large Bens were all withdrawn between 1932 and 1937. The first of the Small Bens was withdrawn in 1931, but ten survived into British Railways ownership. The last of these, 54398 Ben Alder, was withdrawn in 1953 and placed in storage in the hope that it would be preserved.
Unfortunately the hopes for 54398 – which included the intention to restore the locomotive to Highland Railway condition – came to nothing, and following storage at various locations (including Boat of Garten) it was eventually cut up in 1967; and so, none were preserved. However, the possibility of building a new HR Ben Class steam locomotive for Scottish Railway Preservation has been raised.
- ABC of British Railways Locomotives, part 3 (1948 ed.). Ian Allan. p. 44.
- Baxter, Bertram (1984). Baxter, David, ed. British Locomotive Catalogue 1825–1923, Volume 4: Scottish and remaining English Companies in the LMS Group. Ashbourne, Derbyshire: Moorland Publishing Company. pp. 197–199.
- Cormack, J.R.H.; Stevenson, J.L. (1990). Greenwood, William, ed. Highland Railway Locomotives Book 2: The Drummond, Smith & Cumming Classes. Locomotives of the LMS. Lincoln: RCTS. ISBN 0-901115-72-X.
- Longworth, Hugh (2005). British Railways Steam Locomotives 1948-1968.
- Vallance, H.A. (1938). The Highland Railway.