Stamier 5MT Black 5's 44871 and 45407 Head South through Maybole
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A double-headed steam train travelled along the Stranraer to Ayr line for the first time since 1967. The special trip was on Saturday, April 10, 2010 as part of the Railway Touring Company’s (RTC) Great Britain III rail tour. Larger image   More on the engines and line.  Read below the memories this picture evoked from former Maybole resident and railway employee Jim McAlpine.

 Celebrating 150 years of the arrival of the railway in Girvan 24th May 2010

  David Kiltie has captured a picture that takes me back to my youth in the 1940s and early 1950s as a railway employee of London Midland and Scottish and eventually British Railways at Ayr, Girvan and ultimately Maybole.

     I realize that nowadays such an event is a matter of curiosity with the general populace, what with the advent of diesel power, which is now taken for granted.   However, you had to live in those pre diesel days to savour the raw power of the steam engine from the moment it started forward, sometimes with a spinning of the driver wheels as it picked up speed to it's ultimate smooth run to the next station. 

     In the early stages of my employment with the railway I was assigned to work at the District Office in Ayr.   I worked there for a short time before being assigned to work at the goods station in Girvan, under the tutelage of Mr David Mitchell.   After that I was posted to my hometown of Maybole in the position of booking clerk.   I remained at Maybole until my induction into the army in 1948 to fulfill my national service commitment .

     The point of this narration is that in those days I travelled mostly by train powered by steam engines, and the noise, the hissing of the steam, the smell of the smoke which if you inhaled tasted like eating raw mince (ground beef), which I suppose was due to the sulphur content of the coal.

     In 1946 I travelled from Maybole via Stranraer to Oxford, England, to visit a cousin of my mother.   I travelled all the way from Stranraer to Bletchley junction in England sitting on my suitcase as there were no seats available due to the large movement of troops at that time. 

     Steam engines in those days were the normality,they were noisy, they were smelly, they were efficient, and sometimes they went off the rails and I remember an occasion when this happened at Buchty Brig and the powers that be had to bring in the big crane from Ayr to put it back on he rails.

     When I came to Canada in 1951 and started working on the railroad the steam engines were still in use.   However, the diesel engines soon preempted the steamers and I think at that time we lost a great deal of what we once were as railroaders.

     This is just another reminder that a picture, although it is worth a thousand words, it also invokes many memories.   Jim McAlpine.