John Speller's Web Pages Sligo, Leitrim and Northern Counties Railway

John Speller's Web Pages - Irish Railways
Sligo, Leitrim and Northern Counties Railway Untitled HBRHorizontal
The Sligo, Leitrim and Northern Counties Railway was incorporated by an Act of 11 August 1875, for making a railway from the Midland Great Western, at Ballysodare, to the Irish North Western [later the Great Northern of Ireland], at Enniskillen, passing through the counties of Leitrim and Cavan. Length, 481/2 miles. Capital, £200,000 in £10 shares, borrowing powers, £100,000. Time allowed for completion of works, 5 years. Provision for doubling part of the Irish North Western and enlarging the Enniskillen Station. Running powers over, and working and traffic arrangements with, the Irish North Western and Midland Great Western. By Act of 29 June1880, the time for completion of works was extended to 11 August 1883, and powers were obtained to raise additional capital to the extent of £40,000, with borrowing powers not exceeding £20,000. The first section of the line, from Enniskillen to Glenfarne, a distance of 18 miles, and the second section, from Glenfarne to Manorhamilton, was opened l December 1880. A further portion from Manorhamilton to Collooncy, 17 miles, was opened on the 1 September'1881, and the remaining, or last section, was opened for traffic on the 1 November 1882.

The original Chairman was Sir Henry Gore-Booth (1843-1900), a noted Arctic explorer, the Secretary R. E. Davis, the Traffic Superintendent S. B. Humphreys, and the Locomotive Superintendent and Permanent Way Engineer was Henry Tottenham.

In 1905 the Chairman was Sir Josslyn Gore-Booth (1869-1944), the Secretary was still R. E. Davis, the Traffic Manager was still S. B. Humphreys, the Locomotive Superintendent was Stephen Murphy, and the Permanent Way Engineer was H. E. Wynne. The company’s offices were in the GNR(I) station at Enniskillen. The Locomotive, Carriage and Wagon shops were at Manorhamilton; the Locomotive Superintendent, Stephen Murphy, had apprenticed on the Dublin & Kingstown Railway in the early years of Irish Railways.

Like the Great Northern Railway (Ireland), the Sligo, Leitrim and Northern Counties Railway straddled the border between Eire and Northern Ireland and was not therefore absorbed into Great Southern Railways in the Irish Grouping of 1925. Furthermore, it survived Nationalization after the Second World War to become the last privately-owned railway in Ireland. It finally closed on 1 October 1957 following the Ulster Transport authority’s decision to close the former GNR(I) line to Enniskillen, which left it without any through traffic.

Locomotive stock mostly consisted of 0-6-4 tank engines, the last of which to be built were described thus in the Locomotive, Carriage and Wagon Review, 15 June 1906, p. 99, making use of information supplied by S. Murphy, Locomotive Superintendent of the Sligo, Leitrim and Northern Counties Railway: “Details of goods tank locomotives, supplied by Stephen Murphy, Locomotive Superintendent of the Sligo, Leitrim and Northern Counties Railway to the Locomotive, Carriage and Wagon Review, 15 June 1906, p. 99:

Two locomotives supplied to the Sligo, Leitrim and Northern Counties Railway by Beyer, Peacock & Co., Ltd, “Sir Henry” in 1904 and “Enniskillen” in 1906. They have the following leading dimensions: cylinders 17 in. diameter with a stoke of 24 in.; diameter of six-coupled wheels 4 ft. 8 in., and of bogie wheels 3 ft.; wheelbase: coupled 11 ft. 6 in., bogie 5 ft. 6 in., total 24 ft. 7 in.; boiler:length of barrel: 13 ft. 3 in., outside diameter: 4 ft. 1/4 in.; working pressure:160 psi.; firebox: 4 ft. 1115/16 in. long by 3 ft. 71/2 in. wide by 5 ft. 73/8 in. high; 158 tubes of 17/8 in. diameter; heating serface: firebox 98.3 sq. ft., tubes 1,049.9 sq. ft., total 1,128.2 sq. ft.; grate area 18 sq. ft.; capacity of side and end tanks 1,300 gallons; bunker space 68 cubic feet; weight of engine empty 41 tons, and in working order 421/2 tons. These engines have proved very successful in service, and are economical in coal consumption. The gauge of the railway is 5 ft. 3 in.”

Although described as “goods engines” these locomotives were also used for passenger trains where their small wheels suited the heavily-graded line. Unlike the earlier 0-6-4 tanks they were equipped with Belpaire fireboxes. They lasted into the mid-1950s.

Map of the Belfast & County Down Railway in 1906
Murphy 0-6-4 tank "Sir Henry" built by Beyer, Peacock & Co. in 1904 and named after the first Chairman of the SL&NCR, Sir Henry Gore-Booth
Petrol-driven railbus, introduced on the SL&NCR in 1935. The railbus pulled a luggage trailer and had a maximum speed of 45 mph. The ability to switch to a lower gear suited it particularly well to the 1:50 grades of the SL&NCR
The restored border station at Balcoo, now a private residence. Image © copyright Kenneth Allen and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons License
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