Some Early Lines, The Caley

The Caley


Running from Brechin to Bridge of Dun, in rural Angus, is the Caledonian Railway (Brechin) Ltd., not a railway you here a great deal about, unlike the old Caledonian Railway with its beautiful, blue liveried engines, and a sprawling business empire of railway lines, hotels, ships, docks, harbours, locomotive workshops, and even a couple of canals. Sadly, the Caledonian also had the worst railway accident, in British railway history, happen on its Glasgow – Carlisle line, at Quintshill – it will be the centenary of this tragedy on May 22nd 2015.

The through route from London to Glasgow, the first through line between England and Scotland, utilising the Caledonian’s line from Carlisle, over Beattock, to Glasgow opened in 1849 and, in the same year, that railway institution ‘WH Smith’ – yes he of the bookstalls fame, began an experiment, sending London newspapers to Scotland on a specially hired train. The journey time was around 12 and a half hours, but it meant, that for the very first time, it was possible to print a newspaper in London and have it on sale, in Scotland, on the same day. This was the start of the national dailies, on sale at the local ‘news agents’ on every street corner, as you set off for work. It was the super fast broadband of the 19th century, ink, paper, the telegraph and railways, bringing you all the news, gossip and scandal they could dig up – not much change there then.

In the photograph, taken on a sunny Sunday afternoon, Kilmarnock built, Andrew Barclay 0-4-0ST is trundling through cornfields by the  Arnbog road, between Bridge of Dun and Brechin, heading towards Brechin.  Brechin has a rather special connection to those free wheelin’ biker types who ride Harley – Davidson. Davidson’s ancestors came from Aberlemno, just a stones through from Brechin, which hosts a Harley Davidson rally, in honour of the historic connection.

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