Inverurie Railway Station rolled back the years recently, as the LNER Class A4 4488 “Union of South Africa” steam locomotive made a brief halt on its way to Aberdeen.
The magnificent locomotive was built in 1937 and is the same design and class as the more famous “Mallard” which holds the world record for fastest steam engine.
It is being used by the Railway Touring Company on one of their popular rail holidays, the grand old lady is fortunate enough to have been in almost continual private use since being “officially” retired by British Rail in the 1960s. In fact she has accumulated the most miles of any of the surviving engines in her class.
It may have been her first visit to Inverurie, but she is no stranger to the North-east. Originally operating from Edinburgh to London, she transferred to Aberdeen in 1962 and hauled the last steam powered passengers from London Kings Cross in 1964.
Even after the introduction of diesel trains, the “Union of South Africa” still ran between Aberdeen to Glasgow in the late 1960s, as she could make the journey in three hours, half-an-hour quicker than the newly introduced diesel engines!