Steam on the rails

Glen Douglas is a locomotive that used to steam at speed along the West Highland line. 

Now she stands tall and still in Glasgow's Riverside Museum

"Glen Douglas was designed to pull carriages up steep hills and around tight bends, in all kinds of weather," says Neil Johnson-Symington. He is Glasgow Museums' curator for transport and technology.

"The route runs from Glasgow to Fort William and on to Mallaig, passing lochs, moors and mountains. It is one of Scotland's most scenic and demanding routes. Glen Douglas worked it for more than 20 years."

Steam locos, such as Glen Douglas, run on coal and water. They burn the coal to heat the water to make the steam to drive the engine to make the wheels go round.

"It took two men to run a steam locomotive," says Mr Johnson-Symington. "Both were skilled jobs. Before departure the fireman inspected the boiler and the fire buckets. The driver oiled the engine and double-checked everything."

The journey was teamwork too, he says. "The fireman shovelled coal - little and often - into the fire, heating the water in the boiler. The driver used the steam to power the engine." 

The line Glen Douglas ran on is one of the great railway journeys, says Mr Johnson-Symington"One of the most spectacular parts of it has been seen by people all over the world. 

"It's the railway that takes Harry Potter to Hogwarts."

Thanks to Haworth Village website for the locomotive animation.

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