The History of Fife Heritage Railway
Let us cast our minds back to the dim and distant past – to May 1992 no less – and to the closing of the Lochty Private Railway. A sad occasion in anyone’s book; Lochty had successfully run from 1967 as a Museum and Private Railway on the tracks of a small mineral line. We are not looking back with the tinted lens’ of nostalgia, however, but are instead bearing witness to the creation of what we now know and love as Fife Heritage Railway.
The rolling stock used at Lochty had been owned by the group of volunteers known as the Fife Railway Preservation Group. To begin a more formal chapter in their life the group adopted incorporated status and formed The Kingdom of Fife Railway Preservation Society (KFRPS). (As you can tell; this is a frightfully formal sounding name for fundraising and restoration – and as such we use the operating name of “Fife Heritage Railway” which is far snappier and easier to find on Google Maps!)
Obviously with Lochty closing the Society were left with nowhere to store or run their rolling stock. Thankfully the lovely people at Methil Power Station came to an agreement to accept storage and the mammoth task of locating a piece of land suitable for our needs began in earnest.
A large variety of locations were surveyed for housing the collection, including (believe it or not) Crail Aerodome, Lochore Meadows, Bowhill Colliery, and even the disused railway station at Kilconquhar Castle. Ultimately, however, in 2001 Kirkland Yard was acquired and in 2003, after extensive work in site landscaping and track laying, the former marshalling yard was ready to become Kirkland Yard and the stock at Methil Power Station could finally come “home”
Thanks to the hard work of our volunteers, grants from various sources, and the fundraising efforts of the public and our staff alike – work has continued throughout the years and Kirkland Yard now boasts a half mile length of track, a 2-lane engine shed, and a good quantity of sidings.
In 2008 the doors were opened to the public for the first time. Our routine hasn’t changed much since then - with visitors welcomed on Saturdays and Tuesdays to spectate (and even help out!) on the various projects underway, as well as the Open Days proper on the last Sunday of the month from April-December where passenger rides on the track are available. In 2008 passenger duties were carried out with River Eden pulling the coaches – something that even now she occasionally turns her hand to when the mood takes her!
The next project undertaken by us was the restoration of Andrew Barclay 0-4-0 ST Number 10, named “Forth”. Built in 1926 and used at Granton Gas Works in Edinburgh, this local girl was fully restored and repainted by volunteers, with her boiler firing successfully once more in 2016. She has been used to pull passenger coaches on Open Days ever since.
This history takes us to the present day – and with an influx of younger volunteers, the business of Open Days was revamped with an emphasis on activities and fundraising and 2017 was the first fully themed Open Day schedule with successful Halloween and Santa Express days amongst many others. This has carried on into 2018 with each new Open Day weekend bringing bigger and better things.
And now we turn to our Rolling stock, with our current fleet joined by the ghost of Dubbie Pug. Her frame sits inside the shed awaiting overhaul – but as is the way with these things, she has a long road of fundraising ahead of her before she gets to parade in public.