The North British Railway was chartered in 1844 to build a line from Edinburgh to Berwick-on-Tweed on the Anglo-Scottish border, where it later, with what later became the North Eastern and Great Northern Railways, formed part of the East Coast Main Line from King's Cross to Edinburgh. Through numerous mergers and acquisitions it had become the largest railway in Scotland by the time of the 1923 Grouping, when it became part of the London & North Eastern Railway. The original North British Railway locomotive works was at St. Margaret's in Piershill, 1 mile 40 chains east of Edinburgh Waverley, but Thomas Wheatley was responsible for establishing the locomotive works at Cowlairs, Glasgow. North British Railway locomotives were famous for their handsome livery of dark ocher edged with dark green (changed to bronze green in 1914), lined out in black, vermillion and yellow. The Reid "Atlantics" were painted in a special dark ocher brown livery.
Map of the North British Railway and Connections in around 1900
Postcard view of North British express hauled by a Reid "Atlantic" in around 1914
North British Railway 4-4-0 No. 224 which was involved in the Tay Bridge Disaster of 1879. Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.
"Beautiful Railway Bridge of the Silv'ry Tay!
Alas! I am very sorry to say
That ninety lives have been taken away
On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember'd for a very long time." -- William McGonagall
No. 224 was taken to Cowlairs Works for repair and then became the subject of a very interesting experiment. In 1885 the Locomotive Superintendent, Matthew Holmes, rebuilt it as a 4-cylinder tandem compound according to a system patented by W. H. Nesbit. The two high pressure cylinders were 13 inches in diameter with a 24 inch stroke, while the two low pressure ones were 20 inches in diameter with a 24 inch stroke. The experiment was not considered successful enough to warrant proceeding further and the locomotive was converted back to a two-cylinder simple in 1886. It was scrapped in 1919
Midland Railway St. Pancras to Edinburgh express behind a Reid "Atlantic" running over the Waverley Route between Carlisle and Edinburgh shortly before the Grouping of 1923