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The Invergordon Archive

Steam at Invergordon
The Invergordon Archive
Steam at Invergordon

A scene at Invergordon, with 54463 running into the station from the north while 54470 is stationary on the northbound platform waiting for receipt of the token which will give clearance to use the northbound single-track line. The fireman on the footplate of 54463 can be seen holding out the token to hand over to the station staff.

The BR marking on the tender of 54470 and the Mark 1 coach being pulled suggest the date is around 1955-60. Both locomotives are ex-Caledonian Pickersgill 3P 4-4-0.
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Picture added on 09 August 2011 at 11:46
Brings back memories of visits to Inverness on the train. I remember there was two trains that ran about the same time to Inverness, the first one being the slower of the two. Think they ran about lunch time.
Added by Eddie Trotter on 10 August 2011
Picture brings back memories, and reinforces my view that steam trains, though necessary for our part of the world, were dirty smelly things, particularly when travelling in uniform or a good suit.
Added by Joe MacDonald on 11 August 2011
Wow! How many times did I run to be on that bridge when a steam engine passed below. Neither of these engines are Stanier black 5s which were the commonest to be seen passing through in the '50s. If you were standing on the platform when they pulled in, the whole structure trembled below your feet as they were very heavy machines.
I also remember that occasionaly trains were pulled by an engine dating from 1901, it had a very high funnel and even for those days looked very old fashioned.
Added by Bill Geddes on 12 August 2011
Boy does this ever bring back memories. I used to catch the token and the fireman would catch the one from me for the next station down the line.
Thanks to whoever contributed this picture.
No doubt others who worked at the station will comment, like Douglas Will.
Added by Harry O'Neill on 13 August 2011
Thought you’d like this one Harry! With two trains in the station I guess that once you’d collected the token, you had to hot-foot it over the footbridge to the other train to hand that token to the other fireman, collect his token and then back again to the first fireman! What fun - you must have really enjoyed yourself working so closely with the trains.
Added by Malcolm McKean on 13 August 2011
Hi Malcolm, yes it was good working at the railway station, there was good people there.
I forgot to mention that the system above only worked for trains that stopped at the station.
When the speeding goods express went through there was a catcher device at the end of the platform that snatched the loop and the engine picked up the other one as it barrelled by.
Added by Harry O'Neill on 13 August 2011
As a matter of interest, what was the token for?
Added by Joe MacDonald on 14 August 2011
On a single line track there could be only one token for each stage. If the engine didn't have the token, it couldn't enter that section.
Anonymous comment added on 14 August 2011
Hi Joe, the token was a way of assuring that the track between the sending station and the receiving one was clear. Up until this time there was fatal accidents especially on the busier lines.
Added by Harry O'Neill on 14 August 2011
Joe, search for Tyer's Electric train tablet for a complete explanation.
Added by Harry O'Neill on 14 August 2011
Thinking back (a long ways back) these would be the trains that arrived at 4.15pm, students from Alness etc would take the one and students from Delny Kildary would take the other. I don't recall any other time when there was two in at the same time.
Added by Harry O'Neill on 14 August 2011
I’ve added a large version of the picture so that you can see a bit more detail. The ‘hoop-shaped’ object being held by the fireman on the footplate of the engine (54463) on the right, from Tain, is the ‘token’. It is in fact more horseshoe-shaped, 12 - 15 inches in diameter, with a pouch being attached to the base of the horse-shoe in which the actual token is kept.

As Harry pointed out, it is this hoop-shaped ring which allows the ‘token’ to be tossed onto the ‘hook’ of a collecting post by a non-stop train. I guess Harry, that the post - or were there two, one for each direction - was at the western end of the station near the signal box? The signal box has long since gone as have all the sidings for goods traffic. The water-tower was also a feature, the supply for this coming from Achnagarron via a large bore pipe by gravity feed. The pipe can still be seen passing over the Rosskeen Burn close to the old Rosskeen Church, near the railway bridge.

I assume the water-tower was provided for the engines serving the naval base as there was no shed at Invergordon for British Railway engines. Coal for the Navy’s engines would, I guess, have been supplied at the sidings by the station.
Added by Malcolm McKean on 15 August 2011
Hi Malcolm, yes the catcher device was at the western end of the platform of the station close to the home signal. The signal box was located further down. The water tower was also located further down but on the North side. The engines could take on water at the West and East ends of the platforms. The large water tower provided the pressure.
I can't remember there being a catching device on the north side.
Added by Harry O'Neill on 15 August 2011
Thanks for the information re the token.
Added by Joe MacDonald on 17 August 2011
Re the tokens used, one was a flat round metal shape and the other was more key shaped. When the catcher for fast expresses was used the pouch used was a heavy leather pouch, it did not have the wire hoop on it as it was fixed to a grip on the actual catcher post. On the train was a similar apparatus....most times this worked but when I was down there one night the express train swayed at the wrong time and missed the pouch. The train eventually stopped and had to reverse back to the station for the tablet which we found eventually on the top of one of the vans. Needless to say the search took some time and meant that no trains could run on the northern line until the pouch was found meaning a very long delay.

If you look at the right side of the bridge you can just see the signal box.
Added by Doug Will on 29 August 2011
Hi Douglas, good comments. Question for you, was there a catcher device on the north side?
Added by Harry O'Neill on 29 August 2011
I could actually smell the fumes of the trains, going to Inverness to visit my Dad in Raigmore, and not being allowed to see him in the ward but standing on a wooden crate at the window, going to Woolworths to buy ribbons for my hair, it's just so poignant when I see those photos, reminders of my childhood in Invergordon and proud to be from that little town.
Added by Jeanette Bremner (Geddes) on 02 September 2011
Harry, on the question re catcher: on North side yes it was almost opposite the water pump, going south I cannot remember using one there - if there was one on the station side it must have been on the other side of the water pump but I just can't remember it. Come to think of it, there must have been but I never used it.
Added by Doug Will on 22 September 2011
Thanks Douglas, I still am not sure of one being there.
Added by Harry O'Neill on 25 September 2011
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