A Grand Day Out on the Railway

Two projects at National Mining Museum Scotland (NMMS) came together perfectly on 28th April when four members of our Year of Young People Youth Panel visited the Museum of Scottish Railways Bo’ness.

They were there to view and do some work on the Lady Victoria locomotive, manufactured by Andrew Barclay of Kilmarnock, and used as the “Newbattle pug” at the Lady Victoria Colliery, which now houses NMMS.  NMMS and the Scottish Railway Preservation Society (SRPS), which runs the Museum of Scottish Railways, were jointly awarded funding from MGS’s Museum Development Fund to have the Lady Victoria restored, along with the No.21 Ayrshire Barclay locomotive which is in the NMMS collection, and have them both redisplayed and interpreted at NMMS. 

The Youth Panel members, who themselves are funded by EventScotland, contributed to the preservation work by donning boiler suits and safety goggles, rolling up their sleeves and getting their hands (very) dirty.  Under the careful supervision of SRPS’s Mark Ashmole, they were shown how to use wire brushes and scrapers to clean some of the rust and old oil from parts of the locomotive, which has been sadly neglected since it was on display at the Glasgow Garden Festival, 30 years ago in 1988.  It was the first time any of the Youth Panel had done anything like it, but they all got stuck in - alongside the SRPS Youth Group - and found the work surprisingly enjoyable and very satisfying. 

That’s not to say they weren’t relieved to hang up their overalls and be taken on a superb tour of the Museum by SRPS’s own youth group, under the leadership of their youth group Coordinator, Linda Batchelor.  Everyone was amazed by the extent of the collection and enjoyed hearing about the different locomotives as well as getting to sit in an old Glasgow subway carriage, sort mail on the mail train and have a go at operating railway signals. 

After a quick lunch in the SRPS Youth Group cabin and the all-important look around the gift shop, it was time for a ride on a steam train, which is always a special experience.  The NMMS Youth Panel were once again treated to the expertise of SRPS’s Youth Group as they demonstrated a great depth of knowledge about the site, the train and the landscape through which it passed.  On reaching the furthest point of the ride, the Panel left the general public reeling with jealousy by getting a special look inside the engine driver’s cab before the journey back to the Museum. 

The Youth Panel members thoroughly enjoyed their day out and were impressed by the knowledge and hospitality of everyone they met at the Railway Museum.  They are looking forward to going back soon to see how the work on the Lady Victoria is progressing and hopefully also to see NMMS’s No.21 locomotive undergoing its own transformation.

This was a fantastic opportunity for two member museums of Industrial Museums Scotland to work together to give a group of young people a genuine, first-hand insight into what it means to work with, manage and interpret industrial collections.  It was also wonderful to have the group make such a tangible contribution to the preservation of important items from two Recognised Collections and help us take steps towards the completion of our Museum Development Fund project.

  • Both colliery locomotives will go on display at NMMS in 2019.
  • The NMMS Youth Panel will open an exhibition based on NMMS’s photography collections on 3rd July 2018.