Dunrobin's headlamps...

Dunrobin’s headlamps…

I was very pleased to find and purchase this image on e-bay two weeks ago – it is a fine study of 4085 Dunrobin upon its arrival at New Romney on the 11th October 1950.  It would appear to be a press shot, and the rear includes details of the scene.  A great find as it enables us to examine the view in some detail, it having only appeared previously in newsprint form.

What we have is the locomotive and a welcoming committee to greet it – there was quite a bit of press and public interest in its arrival from Scotland.  We should have the full history article that appeared in Heritage Railway Magazine recently placed on this site under ‘downloads’ shortly.  The 15 inch gauge locomotive is No.9 ‘Winston Churchill’, a Canadian style pacific – quite apt given the future that beckoned for Dunrobin!


I have been particularly interested in Dunrobin’s lamps – they are such a familiar feature in period photographs of it but do not appear to have travelled with it to Canada.  They are of distinctive Highland Railway style, with two forms of mounting.  Eddie Bellas wrote on the subject of the HR’s lamps in the Highland Railway Journal (No.31, P16) and described two types.  Both are visible here.  On the upper lamp bracket beneath the chimney is a lugged lamp, being fitted with a centre tapered pin and side supporting brackets to stabilise it.  This formed a stand enabling the lamp to be free standing when not located in the square holed bracket on the locomotive, assisting in cleaning and filling etc.  A colour view of Dunrobin at New Romney (the only one I have seen of it in the UK) suggests the lamps are black, with polished brass trim and handles.


This view, below, shows the other type of lamp in use.  Here the lamp is retained by brackets on the side of the lamp – Dunrobin being unique in retaining this arrangement after all other HR engines were modified to carry single iron lamps per LMS practice.  Both lamps shown (and there is another on the left hand running plate) are clearly finished to a very high standard.  I wonder if there was a fourth, to enable full Royal Train headcode to be shown when required?  Perhaps not, as the vacuum stand and need to open the smokebox door would interfere with the positioning of such in the centre of the running plate across the front of the locomotive.


Both types of lamp have different lens fittings, the lower being bulbous and the upper appearing to be flatter (or missing?).  It is a shame the lamps no longer exist with the engine and I do wonder what became of them, if they survive and if we can one day reunite them with the engine.  Replicas would be an obvious short-term fix but we need to find a manufacturer willing to make strange one-offs and also look at the brackets on the loco to see what is required there.

Below: This photo, from the collection of Roman Krizek (he has a website looking at preserved steam in British Columbia) can be found on the Far North Line website, and is the only colour view of Dunrobin before it went to Canada that I have seen.  It shows the engine at New Romney though is not the occasion of its arrival – note the white wall tyres, an embellishment added during its time in Kent.  The rusty brake blocks are a sure sign of a period of inactivity then movement.  Perhaps this was on one of the occasions the loco visited Ashford for the works open day, or just a periodic steaming at New Romney.  Note the compliment of lamps and the burnished coupling.  Also useful to note is that the coach ends are green – earlier views are hard to identify but the bogie saloon has ivory panel infills – though this must have been very hard to keep clean.  Does anyone know of any other UK colour views pre 1965 of Dunrobin?