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Wemyss Private Railway Totem Straw Colour Writing

Steam Railway
July 1985 - No. 63
the Laird’s Railway


Steam Railway july 1985 The Laird's Railway by Mike Fox

The Laird’s Railway
Article with images by Michael J Fox
Page 40 - 45

Article consists of 6 pages, with 6 images (all black and white, with supporting text.

Great spread of photographs all black and white. Photographs and article by Michael J Fox.

Magazine out of print but still available from either e-bay or from specialist ‘out of print’ magazine web sites, see below.

British Railway Books


The Wemyss Private Railway was one of those mysteriously obscure lines which most railway enthusiasts seemed to hear of, but knew little of what it did, or where it went. Mike Fox 'discovered' the WPR in 1966, just four years before it closed, and spent many hours photographing its trains and tracing its past. This is his recollection of the WPR - 'the Laird's Railway'.

I knew nothing of the Wemyss Private Railway when I first went to work in Fife in 1966. I had no clear awareness of the existence of the line at all, although I had heard or read the name somewhere. That, I came to visit and photograph it so often, and even spend many hours in the Scottish Record Office trying to reconstruct its history, sprang from a purely chance circumstance.

Soon after I arrived in the district, I went to the oddly-styled level crossing over the A955 road east of Kirkcaldy, to photograph a J37 on the run down to the Frances Colliery, with coal empties from the yard at Dysart. It was during my wait for the engine to clamber back from the cliff edge with its loaded wagons, that the crossing keeper enquired "Ha' y' been t'see the Laird's Railway yet?

That was my introduction to the fascinating coal-carrying industrial line whose history and survival was full of paradox, and which for more than 40 years had been 'invisible' to the world at large. It was only when the local pits it served were nationalised that its independence became apparent.’  Mike Fox.

Images in this magazine:

page 40/41: Barclay 0-6-0 side tank No. 19 (works No. 2067 of 1939) draws a train of wooden-bodied coal empties for Michael Colliery out of Methil Yard on July 11, 1967.

page 42: Propelling its own coal ‘tender’, loco No. 19 (Barclay 2067 of 1939) climbs the ascent past Wemyss Brickworks at Buckhaven on 5 February, 1970 with a string of empties for Lochhead Colliery.

page 43: Barclay 0-6-0T No. 17 (works No. 2017 of 1935) arrives at Denbeath Washer with empties from Methil Docks to Lochhead on March 25, 1970. WPR Barclay No. 17 bowls past the bracket signal in the ‘on’ position at Scotts Road sidings, East Wemyss, with coal for Lochhead on 25 March, 1970.

page 44: The desolate and run-down scene at Lochhead Colliery on 18 March, 1970, with Bagnall ‘Austerity’ 0-6-0T No. 16 shunting.

Page 45: WPR ‘Austerity’ No. 16 (Bagnall 2759 of 1944) in good voice brings a fresh load of coal from the BR sidings up to Denbeath Washer, on 27 March 1970.

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