Lord King

Built by Hawthorn Leslie in 1926 at Newcastle (Works No.3640).

Latterly worked at Babcock and Wilcox Dunbarton Works. Currently painted as “Percy”


Early days at Bo’ness


Newly repainted March 2006

Note provided by Dr Alistair McPhee…

I thought I would provide you with just a small piece of information about the small saddle tank currently masquerading as Percy. As you note it was built by Hawthorn Leslie in 1926 at Newcastle (Works No.3640). This little engine did indeed work at Babcock’s in Dumbuck, but it was also at the much larger Renfrew Plant, which employed in excess of 5,000 workers, and was taken there around 1972. At that time, the Head of Training, Ron McDermid, decided that it would be a great idea to restore it as an apprentice training project, and that duly happened. Ron was an ex-BR Derby man with a great love of steam locomotives, and indeed he had worked there on the few BR Standard 2-6-4Ts which were manufactured at the plant and which subsequently made their way north to Scotland. He thus was very interested in our own 80105.

Ron and his foreman, Willie McGilchrist, oversaw the refurbishment of the frames and wheel sets. These were quite worn, due to the locomotive having to negotiate very sharp curves on uncertain track within the factories. The rail network at Renfrew was very extensive and in addition to sidings on either side of the Pailey-Renfrew Wharf main line (closed in 1966 and reduced to a freight siding thereafter) there were numerous spurs going into and out of the various shops. The boiler was overhauled in the package boiler shop – not much of a challenge there, I suspect. However, there were a number of steam fittings which were either worn out or missing, and these included the steam manifold and the injectors. Drawings were obtained, patterns made and castings manufactured. These were then machined up and the fittings completed and assembled. However, Babcocks had no means of testing them, and Ron McDermid asked if the SRPS could do this for them. I contacted Ron Hill, who readily agreed. The injectors were fitted to, I think, Clydesmill No 3, and duly worked, though not without some initial difficulties. I then took them back to Ron McDermid and the Babcock’s engine, now named Sir John King after the group chairman, was steamed in 1980. I think the late and much missed Willlie Peddie had some say in the final testing of her.

At that time, Babcock’s Renfrew plant was still rail connected as above – although trains ceased in that year and all the supplies came by road. The rail system, however, was in place for a celebratory event in which Sir John King pulled and pushed a bogie wagon, fitted out as a passenger carriage, up and down the extensive yards and around the works, to everyone’s great delight. I had the pleasure of driving her there on one occasion, and she was a lovely wee thing, easy to steam and to work. There was however, one exception and that was the brakes. They were operated by a lever fitted to the backhead and there was a quite disconcerting few seconds’ delay between the driver working this lever and anything actually happening. Once you got used to it, however, you could anticipate this and she braked fine.

After some time, as the internal rail yards were ripped up, and a new roadway constructed, it became clear that there would be no place for Sir John King, and the SRPS was approached through myself, to arrange the loan of the engine to the Society. I believe Willie Peddie was the officer again who handled the transfer and Sir John arrived in Bo’ness, with a valid ticket and in tip top condition, in 1981 or 82 – I can’t quite remember which.

Although the engine worked very little at Bo’ness on account of its size, it should need not much more than retubing for a new lease of life, as it was completely renewed at its rebuild.