Caledonia rides again

Isle of Man Railway, Port Erin Station: loco no 15 (as Manx Northern Railway no 4):  Caledonia

Isle of Man Railway, Port Erin Station: loco no 15 (as Manx Northern Railway no 4): Caledonia

Photo:  John Binns

The Isle of Man Railway has more locomotives than it really needs, and to the untutored eye they look very much similar.  In fact, there are three different varieties, and each of the survivors has its idiosyncrasies.

Only four of the eighteen original locos have completely disappeared:  of the remainder, a couple haven’t moved for decades and others are in private ownership.  One of the original 1873 fleet, No 3, Pender, is sectioned and exhibited at the Manchester Museum of Science & Industry.

Enthusiasts look forward to new events on this great little railway.  The 2013 star turn is the rebuilt No 15, Caledonia, one of two locomotives surviving from the Manx Northern Railway, which ran from St John’s to Ramsey and was originally independent of the Isle of Man Railway.

Since the Manx steam railway was nationalised in 1977, its locomotives have worn a variety of liveries in order, according to rumour, to prove that there are more than two locos in the fleet.

Caledonia is turned out in the attractive Manx Northern livery of “Metropolitan Carriage red”, a darker shade than the standard IMR red.

Built in 1885 to work the steeply graded Foxdale Railway, serving the zinc mines in the heart of the island, Caledonia was required to work a ruling gradient of 1 in 49, but proved capable of climbing at 1 in 12 when she visited the Snaefell Mountain Railway in 1995.

Over 125 years old, the second newest loco in the fleet – Caledonia proves that Victorian steam locomotives were built to last.

The 72-page, A4 handbook for the 2014 Manx Heritage tour, with text, photographs, maps, a chronology and a reading list, is available for purchase, price £10.00 including postage and packing.  To order a copy, please click here or, if you prefer, send a cheque, payable to Mike Higginbottom, to 63 Vivian Road, Sheffield, S5 6WJ.

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