The Cavan and Leitrim Railway – A Miscellany.

A. ‘The Cavan and Leitrim Railway’ at Dromod:   is the preservation society hoping to create a line between Mohill and Dromod along the C&L’s old route. Over the years, that society has seen some great successes. Most recently, the bringing back to steam of the locomotive ‘Nancy’. The preservation society asked me to include the adjacent pictures in this post.

The first view shows the station in the late 1950s, (c) J.P. O’Dea. [4]

The second is taken  after the station buildings had been renovated in the early 1990s, (c) C&L 1992. [5]

That below shows the station from the West, (c) Jonathon Clinton 2019. [5]One early success, alongside the renovation of the station building, was the rescue of the engine shed and water tower. This picture shows …….. (c) Philip Bedford March 28th 2019. [5]‘Nancy’ beside the water tower, (c) D. Connolly. [5]‘Nancy’ at Dromod Station platform, (c) Jonathon Clinton 2019. [5]

Wikipedia says: “The privately owned Cavan & Leitrim Railway is based in the former Dromod Station, in Co. Leitrim. There is a transport museum, with narrow-gauge trains of several gauges, buses, planes, fire engines and artillery guns from World War I and World War II. …….. With the help of volunteers trains are run on a short section of line. The Avonside steam locomotive “Nancy” was rebuilt at Alan Keef in Wales where it first steamed on 23 March 2019 after twenty years of restoration work. [6] The locomotive was shipped to Dromod where it now resides.” [7]

Best contact details:   

Address:      Clooncolry, Drumod, Co. Leitrim

Tel:                071 963 8599




B. Belturbet Heritage Railway:  the heritage centre in Belturbet sits at what was an interchange between the Cavan and Leitrim Narrow Gauge Railway (3ft) and the Great Northern Railway which was Irish standard gauge (5ft 3ins). The Great Northern (GNR) branch connected to Ballyhaise on the Clones to Cavan line. The Cavan and Leitrim (C&L), at Dromod, connected to the Midland Great Western Railway (MGWR) mainline from Dublin to Sligo. The line was extended to Arigna in 1920 in the form of a roadside tramway. [3]

The centre was once Belturbet Station and shared by the C&L and the GNR. It has been significantly refurbished from an overgrown and dilapidated state in the 1990s to a modern well equipped centre in the 2010s.[3]

The station buildings lay derelict for almost 40 years until the Belturbet Community Development Association purchased the entire 10 acre site in 1995. The buildings had during that time served as farmyard buildings and had been subjected to the effects of weather, fire and theft. They were subsequently refurbished to the original state with great attention to detail gained by reference to original plans drawn on silk. [3]

The original/restored Station Buildings include:

  • Main Station Building and Station Master’s House
  • Platform (Roof totally replaced)
  • Great Northern Railway Goods Shed (Extension added to the original building. Attempts had been made to remove part of the original building for safety reasons prior to restoration)
  • Cavan and Leitrim Railway Goods Shed (Effectively no restoration needed)
  • Engine Shed
  • Water Tower
  • Transhipment Shed

The Main Station Building contains a museum hosting an interesting collection of railway memorabilia and audiovisual footage of the Cavan and Leitrim railway and the restoration of the station itself. [3]The Great Northern Railway Goods Shed serves as a 120 person capacity conference hall and is used for business, social, sport, leisure and educational/training purposes. The Goods Store/Visitor Centre has  meeting & conference room facilities for rent. [3]The refurbished Station-house is on the right. The main GNR station building is directly ahead of the camera. [8]

Contact Details:     

Address:    Railway Road, Belturbet, County Cavan

Tel:      086 069 9749



C. Locomotives

An order was placed with Robert Stephenson & Sons of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1886 for 6 railway engines. The order was later extended to 8 locomotives. Four of these engines were fitted with condensing apparatus and modified for working on the tramway. The original order valued the locos at £1,100 each. The modifications cost £38 per engine. [1: p81]

“The first of the eight was delivered at Belturbet specially early, in May 1887, for the use of the contractor. With the exception of the second engine (which came to Dromod in June) all the engines reached the C&L via the GNR, the deliveries continuing until early in 1888.” [1: p81]

All the engines were 4-4-0Ts with stovepipe chimneys. The firebox crown sloped down towards the back of the engine to avoid the danger of uncovering on steep banks. The cabs had round front spectacles and rectangular ones at the back. The back also had an opening door to a height of 2ft 11ins which was used for coaling. Cowcatchers were provided and each engine carried as large headlamp. Probably all originally had a sloping cover below the smokebox door (as retained by No 3 till 1925) which was removed early on to make room for jacks and tool-boxes. [1: p82-83]

All the engines had the same dimensions. They weighed in excess of 25 tons and had makers’ numbers 2612-2619 in order. The last four were intended for use on the tramway and were externally quite different. Skirts were fitted over the wheels to 4in above rail height and extending the full length oif the frame. The back weather boards on the cxab were cut away arvthge csides and the forward facing spectacles could be opened. [1: p83]

Unusually, the tramway engines had a set of duplicate driving gear. This meantvthat the driver had full control of the engine while always being able to watch the road ahead. Flanagan says that “this provision of two sets of controls was unique, on Irish railways at any rate. As supplied, the tramway engines had the cowcatcher and the head-lamp at the back end and when the makers chose to photograph one of these as a mainline engine the catcher and the lamp were reversed and the U-pipe and exhaust-vent of the condensing gear, as well as the skirts, were removed. All engines ran in conflict with the 1884 Order in Council which specified a maximum axle-loading of eight tons.” [1: p83]The two different incarnations of the tramway engines. In the first picture we see the manufacturers photograph of No. 5, ‘Gertrude’ fitted as a mainline engine in 1887. It was then converted back so as to be supplied to work on the tramway. The tramway version is shown in the second picture above and has the cowcatcher and headlamp fitted behind, or in effect in front of, the cab. These engines were designed to be driven cab first. [1: between p100 & p101]Loco No. 8, Queen Victoria) heads an up coal special past Drumcong Post Office in 1957. A very photogenic location! [1: between p100 & p101]No. 3, Lady Edith in 1903. [1: in between p100 & p101]

The engines were named after the company directors’ daughters with the exception of one engine which was named for Queen Victoria. A variety of modifications were made to these engines over the years. These are all detailed by Flanagan [1: p84-89] and those details do not need to be repeated here. Nonetheless, despite modification,these engines struggled to cope with the heaviest livestock and excursion traffic of the early 1900s and by January 1904 the C&L was looking for a more powerful loco. The specification called for an 0-6-4T locomotive. Robert Stephenson and Sons tendered the lowest price of £1750 and promised delivery within 18 weeks. They were given the work. The order was placed on 7th July and the engine was tried on the line in steam on 28th October of the same year. [1: p89]

As soon as No. 9,’King Edward’, arrived it became the pride of the C&L fleet. It was considerably more powerful than the rest of the fleet, being able to take 24 wagons of cattle to market. However, it became a ‘white-elephant’ because its long rigid wheel-base tended to spread the running rails. A variety of different things were tried to address this but the ‘King’ continued to spread rails on tight curves. Eventually, it came to only be used in exceptional circumstances. “in December 1922, the board decided to offer it for sale. However, it was reported in 1923 that nobody was interested, and after that the ‘big engine’ spent most of its time at Ballinamore, leaving only for a very occasional jaunt on the main line. ” [1: p91]0-6-4T locomotive No. 9, ‘King Edward’ in ex-shop condition in 1904. [1: between p100 & p101]

The company considered buying other locos but it was some time before other engines were employed on the network. “The next ones to run on the line were ‘foreigners’ the tow hired by the Ministry of Transport in April 1920 for use in the conrtuction and working of the Arigna Valley Railway. Transferred temporarily to the C&L, they were originally Nos. 1 and 2 of the Ballymena, Cushendall & Red Bay Railway. Built at Black Hawthorn in 1874 and 1875 respectively, they were renumbered on various occasions, becoming 101A and 102A of the Northern Counties Committee in February 1920. … These little engines were very popular on the C&L and were amazingly sturdy machines. Probably as a result of excessive use on the C&L, their condition in June 1921 was poor and it was ordered that they be returned to the NCC at the end of Control. They returned north in November 1921 and were not used again. ” [1: p94-95]One of the two foreigners , No. 101A from the NCC was originally a Ballymena, Cushendall and Red Bay Railway engine. [1: between p100 & p101]

By the summer of 1924, No. 8 was no longer Queen Victoria. The name had become synonymous with colonial rule and after one false start the name plate was removed and destroyed. [1: p97]No. 8, Queen Victoria without her nameplates, pictured in 1924. [1: between p100 & p101]

Engine Livery: the basic C&L livery was dark green with lining consisting of “a three-quarter inch band with a much thinner line inside. The band was generally red and the line white but, depending on the taste of the locomotive superintendent or the painter, there were variations. For example, No. 7 had a red band but a black line, while the band on No.8 was yellow and the line light blue. Lined parts of the engine were the front and side of the tanks, the cab panels and back, and the sides of the cylinders. The smoke-box and the cover over the cylinders were in variably black.” [1: p97-98]No. 2, Kathleen in 1933 prior to its regular use on the Arigna Tramway. Flanagan says: “The engine has the flat Hunslett dome cover and is fitted with smoke-box lubricators.” [1: between p100 & p101] Two views of a model of No. 2, Kathleen in 00n3. This model was produced from a kit from Backwoods Miniatures which has been modified including a scratch-built rear cab sheet as the one in the kit was for the era prior to Kathleen being fitted out to run on the Arigna tramway. The original loco still exists at Cultra. These pictures were found on the website of Chester Model Railway Club. [16]A typical Arigna Coal train modelled in 00n3 with Kathleen at the head, also . [16]No. 4, Violet in 1932. Flanagan says: “The step on the [front of] the side tanks was a feature of this engine for a long time.” [1: between p100 & p101]This image of No. 1, Isobel is taken in 1931 at Dromod MPD and mirrors pictures above from the preservation era. [1: between p100 & p101]

At the amalgamation heavy excursion traffic was a thing of the past and the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland  was depleting the cattle traffic. However, the Arigna Coal traffic was substantial and growing steadily. Modifications were first made to the remaining members of the existing fleet of locomotive (1925). Heavy repairs were undertaken at Ballinamore until around 1932, after which such repairs were undertaken at Inchicore Works. Regular repairs kept 4 of the original 8 locos in use but their overall condition was deteriorating gradually and by 1951 no further havey repairs were undertaken. Flanagan says that “At the closure, the four remaining C&L engines were very run down. As the line was lifted, No. 8 was cut up in the shops in Ballinamore. The lifting of the Dromod line was done with Nos. 2 & 4, and in February 1960, No. 4 was cut up at Dromod. After a long wait, No. 2 was brought by road to the Belfast Transport Museum, where it no rests. The remaining engine, No. 3, was shipped to America by the Lady Edith Society.” [1: p116-117]No. 2, Kathleen at the Ulster Transport Museum, (c) Skimann . [9] Three shots, video stills of Lady Edith on shed at Pine Creek Railroad, New Jersey in 2017. [10]

The Lady Edith Society was a consortium of New York area railroad enthusiasts–Edgar T. Mead, Jr., Oliver Jensen and Roger E.M. “Frimbo” Whitaker. They pooled their money and in 1959 shipped to the U.S. the Lady Edith, a second locomotive, a passenger carriage from the Cavan and Leitrim, and later they were joined by a goods van and a brake van from the West Claire Railway. First displayed at Pleasure Island Amusement Park in Boston, Massachusetts, the equipment was moved to Freehold, NJ, then to Allaire in 1965. Lady Edith first steamed on 16th June 1966. It was serviceable up until around the millenium when it became apparent that the front flue sheet was too thin for safe operation. An $11,000 repair was put on hold when New Jersey adopted new regulations. [11]

The second locomotive was the former Cavan & Leitrim, ex-Great Southern Railway, nee-Tralee & Dingle 2-6-2T No. 5, which was brought over in 1959 to go to Edaville. Instead, it went to the Steamtown collection in 1961. It remained part of the Steamtown collection until 1986. In that year, it was purchased from the Steamtown Foundation and repatriated to Ireland by the Great Southern Railway Preservation Society, Ltd. It operated for a time on a restored section of the T&D between Tralee and Blennerville. [11] However, that heritage line is currently not operational and No. 5 sits unused on the Tralee & Blennerville Railway. It has not worked for some years now.Above, Loco No. 5T is at Creagh on the afternoon Arigna train. [1: between p100 & p101].

In the adjacent image, which was frequently seen on postcards, No. 3T sits at Creagh on another Arigna bound train. [3]

Locomotives from Down South!

The Cork, Blackrock & Passage Railway (CBPR) closed in 1932. Four of its engines, built in 1900 by Neilson and Company, were 2-4-2T locos. They had maker’s numbers 5561-5564 and CBPR Nos. 4-7. By the middle of 1934 all four engines had been repaired either at Cork or Inchicore. The locos were renumbered Nos. 10L – 13L respectively and  arrived at the C&L in August and September of 1934. No. 11L did not last long and was scrapped in 1939 at Inchicore. After experimentation it was determined that these locos were not suited to the Arigna Extension. No. 13L was laid up at Inchicore in 1951 and scrapped in 1954. The two remaining CBPR locos lasted until the end of the C&L and were cut up in 1959. [1: p117-119]

The GSR considered supplementing C&L motive power with locomotives from  the Tralee & Dingle Line, the West Clare Line and the Schull & Skibbereen Line. All would have been within the loading gauge and turntable lengths. The most suitable proved to be those from the Tralee & Dingle Line. Four engines were sent from the Tralee & Dingle Railway (T&D) to the C&L. They came in numerical order over a period of 16 years.

“The first to come were Nos 3T and 4T in late 1941. The former was a Hunslett 2-6-0T of 1889 (maker’s number 479) and was one of the original T&D engines, having been delivered early to Robert Worthington for use in construction work. … This endine (and all other T&D engines except No. 4) was fitted with Walschaert’s valve gear. … The second engine to come in 1941, No. 4T, was … built by Kerr, Stuart & Company (No. 836) in 1903. it was a 2-6-0T to a standard maker’s design and resembled other engines supplied to various overseas railways. … It was not until 1949 that No. 5T went to Inchicore Works, … en-route to the C&L. On 10th November the following year, it was sent to Ballinamore to begin a nine-year spell of heavy duty. … Generally similar to No. 3T, it was a larger engine – a 2-6-2T – with longer boiler and firebox. Made by Hunslet in 1892, its number was 555. … No. 5T has a cow-catcher but this gradually worked loose and had a tendency to stick on the points. When this … happened one day in Drumshanbo yard the catcher was … removed for good. … The last of the Dingle engines, No. 6T, was identical with No. 3T in everything except age. However, as built (in 1898, Hunslet No. 677) it had no tramway fittings. … No. 6T … came to Inchicore and was condemned in March 1957 but was immediately reprieved  for the C&L coal traffic and went into service shortly afterwards. It ran the greatest mileage of all on coal specials, 1,312 miles in four weeks of April-Mat 1958.” [1: p120-122]

“On closure of the C&L, Nos 3T and 4T (with 10L) were used on the Belturbet lifting and were cut up on completion of the task; 6T (and 12L) went to the Dromod end and were also scrapped. 5T alone survived, being shipped to America.” [1: p122]

6T was the last steam locomotive in steam on the original C&L. 6T went on to haul lifting trains into 1960 and was scrapped in March. It seems as though 5T did operate at Blennerville in the States but is currently in pieces having not steamed in 10 years. [28]

D. Rolling Stock

Carriages: In 1886 the Company instructed the engineer to prepare specifications 8 composite, four third-class carriages and 6 brake vans. The carriages were to be long bogie vehicles. Automatic vacuum brakes were to be used.

In January 1887 the tender from the Metropolitan Carriage & Wagon Company in the sum of £10,554 was accepted and the chosen carriages were 40ft in length by 7ft in width and ran on two four-wheel bogies with 2ft diameter wheels.

The seating arrangement was “longitudinal, slatted, wooden seats in all third-class sections, and similar, black, leather-upholstered seats in the small central smoking first-class sections of the composites. The non-smoking firsts had swivel armchairs on one side and fixed armchairs on the other, dark blue upholstery being used. The accommodation was fifty in the thirds, thirty-four third class and fourteen first-class (six smoking) in the composites. The carriages weighed 7 tons 12cwt.” [1:p148-149]

Externally, “the overall painting was red-brown and there was a fine red line around the windows and panelling. Midway along the waist panel there was a gold transfer of the letters ‘C.L.& R.Ry’ and below was the number. They had open platforms at the ends, though the roof extended the full length of the frame. Protection was afforded by railings. … Lighting was by oil, with four lamps in each third and five in each composite, and the windows were fitted with blinds. No permanent form of heating was provided and in December 1887 two-dozen copper foot warmers were ordered. … In the early days … the foot-warmers were filled from large iron kettles … purchased by the traffic manager in January 1888.” [1: p149]C&L Loco. No. 5 on a board inspection train at Belturbet in the early 1900s. I guess that the bogie coach at the rear of the train would at least have had some first class accommodation! [1: between p100 & p101]

“The first coach, a composite, was delivered in July 1887. … The chief complaint made was that rain had freely found its way inside the coach and the locomotive superintendent was instructed to make a thorough inspection. He reported that the workmanship might have been a bit better in some respects but that, on the whole, the coach was fairly satisfactory. ” [1: p149]

Steam heating of the coaches was considered on a number of occasions but was not fitted. Internal alterations saw the removal of swivel chairs and their replacement with longitudinal bench seating in 1903. It was soon realised that the original coaches had a surfeit of first-class accommodation. It was decided in 1891 to convert two composites to thirds, however the work was not carried out until mid-1899. A third conversion was made in 1907. The possibility of adding a lavatory to No. 11, which was then being modified, was considered and rejected because the cost of £35 6s 6d was considered to be far too high.

“As traffic built up over the years, the carriage stock proved insufficient for the heavy demands made on it. Things came to a head in 1909 and it was then proposed that two new carriages be bought, but the plan had to be withdrawn  in the face of opposition from the council directors.” [1: p150] Further please were made at intervals for an increase in the number of carriages, but to no avail. The C&L made no further additions to is carriage stock.

“Very shortly after the formation of the GSR, plans were drawn up for a standard coach for all the acquired narrow-gauge lines. It would have been 40 ft long and 6ft 11 ins wide with longitudinal seating for 34 third-class passengers. There were to be two four-seater first-class compartments, the central one for smokers. Electric light was planned and entrance would be gained from inward-opening side doors at each end.” [1:p151] These plans came to nothing.

After an attempt at re-panelling of two C&L coaches both deteriorated rapidly, one was scrapped, the other was return with a replacement body made up of “two ‘N’-class single-decker bus bodies joined together in the middle, the original bus entrances being kept and new, similar ones provided opposite. … In appearance, the bus-coach was quite smart at first but it had some very distinct disadvantages. The roof leaked badly, there was no heating, … and although battery lighting was provided it was necessary to send the batteries to the Broadstone to for recharging.” [1: p152]Coach No. 7 of the C&L was re-bodied with a pair of bus bodies shunted together. [14]

Of the remaining two untouched coaches, the first was allowed to rot away until closure, the other, “a composite, was hauled into Ballinamore shops in 1958 and given a completely new body. It was second-class only and extended the full length of the frame, the familiar end platforms disappearing and inward-opening doors being provided instead. The edns were blocked off and there was no access from the next vehicle.” [1: p152]

“In 1954, the CIE made an effort to relieve the situation by giving the line its first ‘foreign’ coaches – two from the West Clare, though originally of Tralee & Dingle origin.” [1: p152]

Flanagan provides a full list of all the C&L carriages: [1:p153-154]

No I Composite: Derelict in GSR livery in Ballinamore to 1958. Then rebuilt in C&L shops as all-second. Transferred to West Clare in June 1959 and used in traffic and later as P.W. sleeping-car on lifting train. Body sold to Bord na Mona in Bellacorick, Co Mayo.

No 2 Composite: Converted to third 1900-07; written off 1950.

No 3 Composite: Converted to third 1900-07; written off 1950.

No 4 Composite: Sent by GSR to Inchicore for repairs; came back with ‘cardboard’ sides. Very little used on return. Frame again sent to Inchicore 1951 but scrapped there.

No 5 Composite: Converted to brake-composite 1945-6 and painted green. Panelling later covered with painted sheet aluminium. On closure sent to Dromod and later brought to Belfast Transport Museum.

No 6 Composite: Converted to brake-composite 1950. Little used at end (No 5 was regular tramway carriage). Body sold to Gaelic Athletic Association 1959 and now in use as changing-room at sports-field in Ballinamore.

No 7 Composite: Sent to Inchicore with No 4 by GSR. Also little used on return. Frame also sent to Inchicore 1951 for new body. Returned December 1953 as `bus-coach’. New body all-second. On closure, sent to Dromod and fittings removed. Sold to Bord na Mona in Lanesboro’, Co Longford.

No 8 Composite: Converted to third 1899; written off 1943.

No 9 Third: Written off 1943.

No 10 Third: Written off 1950.

No 11 Third: Lasted till closure (then scrapped) but, although used in 1949-50 period on tramway, had been derelict for years.

No 12 Third: Written off 1943.

Coach No. 12 was a third class coach. It is shown here newly repainted in 1931. [1: between p100 & p101]

In 2019, Flanagan’s list needs to be reviewed in the light of 50 years of further developments ….

Coach No. 1: Flanagan says that this was on the West Clare Railway for a short while. I have not been able to follow up on the subsequent history and demise of the coach. Worsley Works makes a kit of this coach and carry a picture of it circa 1959 in West Clare colours.Model of Coach No. 1, kit by Worsley Works, built by Simon Starr. [15]

Coach No. 5 (‘6’):  is shown in this early postcard from what was the Belfast Transport Museum. The card was part of a restoration appeal in the early 1960s. Have they got the number wrong? Or did Flanagan?cl-belfast-transport-museum-appeal-pcIn the days before the new Irish Transport Galleries were built at the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum in Cultra, the collection was housed in a cramped old warehouse in Witham Street, Belfast. The carriage featured in this early 1960s card of Witham Street has since been fully restored and is on show at Cultra. [12] Further investigation suggests that the correct designation for the coach under renovation in Belfast was No. ‘5’. The Ulster Folk & Transport Museum now lists it as such. [13]Model of Coach No. 5, kit by Worsley Works, built by Simon Starr. [15]This image shows either Coach No. 5 or Coach No. 6 after conversion to a brake-composite. [1]The image above shows either Coach No. 5 or Coach No. 6 after conversion to a brake-composite, at Ballinamore. [17]

The adjacent image shows Coach No. 5 at the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum and was found on the Chester Model Railway Club website. [18]

Below, there are two images of the interior of Coach No. 5, also sourced from the Chester Model Railway Club website. [18]

The first shows the interior of the 1st Class compartment. The second shows the interior of the 3rd Class compartment. Despite being more plush, the 1st Class compartment was no warmer than the 3rd Class compartment – neither had steam heating! [18]

Coach No. 6:  Was used as a changing room at Ballinamore. I have been unable to verify its life at Ballinamore after the closure of the C&L, nor have I found details of its demise.

Coach No. 7: Flanagan indicates that this coach was passed to the Bord na Mona Railways in Lanesboro’, Co Longford. This picture shows Coach 7L dumped at BnM Mountdillon Works near Lanesborough in 1970, © A. Wilson. [29]The carriage was purchased as a chassis minus it’s body by the Irish Steam Preservation Society in 1972 and moved to Stradbally where it was shortened and the bogie centres relocated to shorted it to 20ft and allow it negotiate the curves of the line, © Ernie Shepherd. [29]7L in 2018 at Stradbally Railway Works it’s 1973 body still going strong and 1887 underframe and bogies with CL&RR axleboxes retained. [29]

Other Coaching Stock: The C&L had 6 brake vans which measured 15ft 6ins in length and 7ft in width. Panelling on the brake vans originally matched that on the coaching stock. As built they had a birdcage lookout at one side. Once refurbished the birdcage lookout was lost and the sides were panelled in Aluminium.Brake Van no 17L after cladding with aluminium, also at Ballinamore. [17]

There were just two horse boxes and high were numbered 19 and 20. They carried a dark blue livery with white lettering.The two horse boxes were number 19 and 20. This is No. 20. The picture was taken in 1949. [1: between p100 & p101]

The C&L had two milk vans to cater for creamery traffic. They were also in dark blue livery but we’re also fitted as brake vans and could often be seen acting in that capacity.This image shows a model in 00n3 of one of the milk vans in its later livery with CIE. The image comes from the Chester Model railway Club website. [16]

Timber trucks were provided, just 2, which also were designated as coaching stock.

“At its peak, the C&L coaching stock comprised twenty-five vehicles, if which half were carriages.” [1: p155]

Foreign Coaches: vehicles were transferred from the Tralee & Single. There were two, numbered 21L and 22L. The former was a 30ft. composite coach, the latter was originally a brake third but converted to a van in 1940. 21L was renovated internally on arrival at Ballinamore and again in 1959, when it was sent to the West Clare for further use. [1: p155]This picture comes from the Chester Model Railway Club website [16] and shows, to the right, vehicle 22L referred to above, modelled in 00n3 scale. In addition, the picture includes two wagons used on the C&L which are referred to below.

Wagons: The C&L first considered wagons in October 1886. The order which was finally placed with Metropolitan [20] was for “forty open, forty covered and twenty cattle wagons. In addition, two timber trucks were obtained. Of the covered wagons, half were close-roofed and the rest were ‘convertibles’, that is, they had an open centre portion in the roof and could be used for cattle. When used formgoods, tarpaulin covers were employed. The original numbers were  1-40 open; 41-80 goods; 81-100 cattle; 101-102, timber.” [1: p156]Convertible Wagons at Dromod. [19]

Later, in 1888, six ballast wagons were purchased from the Bristol Carriage & Wagon Co. [22] This number was insufficient. The traffic manager asked for 20 more. The board decided on seven, which were purchased in 1889 from Metropolitan. [20] By 1893, the traffic manager was again asking for an increase in allocated stock. The board chose to take no action. It was not until the C&L began building it’s own wagons at Ballinamore that the stock was increased. The first wagon out-shopped from Ballinamore was an open wagon which was in use by 1899. This was followed by two convertibles. [1: p156]

In 1903, an order for a further 20 convertibles was placed with R & Y Pickering of Glasgow. [24] This was followed, in 1911, by a further order for 10 open and 10 covered wagons from the same supplier. (The traffic manager had requested 50 of each type!) This was the last significant sized order to placed outside the company and indeed the only new wagons after this date are listed by Flanagan as: “one open wagon, … built in 1913, a second in 1917, and two timber trucks (to supplement the original pair for the Dromod-Bawnboy timber traffic) in 1918; all were built at Ballinamore.” [1: p157]

Flanagan also provides general details of all of the wagon types and of various re-numberings which took place. The wagon livery was grey with black ironwork. Lettering and numbering were in white. The ballast wagons were the only exceptions, having a special yellow livery of their own; lettering was in black.” [1: p158] All wagons were 15ft 6ins long and 7ft wide. They had a 7ft wheelbase with 2ft diameter wheels.

As the years progressed a series of ‘foreign’ wagons arrived at the C&L. twenty were borrowed from the NCC by the Ministry of Transport, arriving in 1920. In 1934, thirty-eight open wagons were transferred to the C&L, all but six came from the Passage line. The remaining six appear to have been built new at Inchicore, although it is actually more likely that they were new bodies on old Cork & Muskerry wagons. With the wagons came two goods brake vans of Passage origin.

In 1942, a further 12 wagons came to the C&L from the Clogher Valley Railway, 8 open and 4 covered. No further wagons were added until 1953 when the Tralee & Dingle closed and three ballast wagons were transferred to the C&L. Finally, in 1957, a total of 10 wagons (8 Muskerry and 2 Clogher Valley) were sent to Ballinamore from the West Clare. Many of the wagons transferred in the latter years of the C&L saw little use as they had coupling problems and/or were in poor condition. [1: p159-162]

Other Stock: The C&L had two locomotive department service vehicles – a hand operated accident crane (ex Cowan & Sheldon) [25] which arrived in 1887 and a wooden four-wheeled bogie which was used for moving equipment around the Ballinamore yard and for moving coal to Corgar. [1: p163]


  1. Patrick J. Flanagan; The Cavan & Leitrim Railway; Pan Books, London, 1972.
  2.×4-Black-White-photo-prints-/292954701892, accessed on 5th June 2019.
  3., accessed on 7th June 2019.
  4., accessed on 8th June 2019.
  5. The series of images was sent to me by Darragh Connolly of the C&L. Those not credited to others are C&L copyright.
  6.  “Industrial Notes and News”. Bulletin. 1031. – Industrial Railway Society. accessed in May 2019. p. 13.
  7., accessed on 5th June 2019.
  8., accessed on 6th June 2019.
  9.”KATHLEEN”.jpg, accessed on 22nd June 2019.
  10., accessed on 22nd June 2019 and shown beneath these references.
  11., accessed on 22nd June 2019.
  12., accessed on 25th June 2019.
  13., accessed on 25th June 2019.
  14., accessed on 25th June 2019.
  15., accessed on 25th June 2019.
  16., accessed on 26th June 2019.
  17., accessed on 26th June 2019.
  18., accessed on 26th June 2019.
  19., accessed on 26th June 2019.
  20. The Metropolitan Railway Carriage and Wagon Co. of Saltley Works, Birmingham was registered in 1862 by Joseph Wright and Sons with a nominal capital of £100,000. In 1864, that share capital was increased to £200,000. In 1902, it was incorporated into the Metropolitan Amalgamated Railway Carriage and Wagon Co. Eventually, in 1929 the next successor company, Metropolitan Carriage, Wagon and Finance Co was merged with the railway business of Cammell, Laird and Co to form Metropolitan Cammell Carriage, Wagon and Finance Co better known as Metro Cammell. [21]
  21., accessed on 30th June 2019.
  22. The name “Bristol Wagon & Carriage Company”  was applied to a company on Lawrence Hill, Bristol. Prior to 1889 its name was the Bristol Wagon Works Co. By 1905 the company was also producing road vehicles. It produced a stationary internal combustion engine – ‘The Victoria Engine’ – from 1906 to around 1920. During that time around 3,500 were built. By 1915, it was one of 15 established companies involved in manufacture and hiring-out of railway rolling stock. It was acquired in 1920 by the Leeds Forge Co. [23]
  23., accessed on 30th June 2019.
  24. R. Y. Pickering and Co. of Wishaw were manufacturers of railway carriages, wagons and rails and were established in 1864. Around 1900 they produced a few steam railcars but by 1911 they were primarily a manufacturer of Carriages and Wagons for the Railways. Later they diversified and then refocussed so that by 1961 they were general engineers and fabricators, producing welded marine engine fabrications, ship and barge hatch covers, ships welded sternframes and rudders; welded tanks; machine tool fabrications; screening equipment; foundry plant; winches; oil drilling masts and substructures; forgings and drop stampings; sheet metal work and had 600 employees. [26]
  25. Cowans, Sheldon and Co, crane makers, of Carlisle began in a small way at Woodbank near Upperby. John Cowans and Edward Pattinson Sheldon had been apprentices to Robert Stephenson & Co. on Tyneside. There they had been friendly with a William Bouch from Thursby, and it was his younger brother, Thomas, who eventually found the premises at Woodbank, which had been a calico works. In 1866, the company built their first railway recovery crane. They made cranes for the railways, heavy lifting gear which could be used to return locomotives that had gone off the rails to the right track. Cowans Sheldon’s fate was tied to the fate of the railways and the British engineering industry. Britain stopped being the workshop of the world. The postwar years saw increased competition. In 1961, the 450 employees found themselves working for the Glasgow firm of Clyde Crane and Booth and in 1982 the firm became Cowans-Boyd. Five years later, manufacturing ceased and only the design office team was retained in Carlisle. The giant sheds were demolished and beefburgers are now fried where once some of the world’s greatest cranes were made. [27]
  26., accessed on 1st July 2019.
  27.,_Sheldon_and_Co., accessed on 1st July 2019.
  28. Helpful comments made by Darragh Connolly of the C&L at Dromod on 4th July 2019.
  29. Sean Cain,, accessed on 5th July 2019.

4 thoughts on “The Cavan and Leitrim Railway – A Miscellany.

  1. youzizz

    die Kohle- und Eisenerzgebiete von Arigna und Lough Allen unterstutzen wurde. Die Cavan and Leitrim Railway wurde am 17. Oktober 1887 fur den Guterverkehr und am 24. Oktober 1887 fur den Personenverkehr eroffnet. Der Streckenabschnitt von Belturbet im County Cavan nach Dromod im County Leitrim war eine Kleinbahn, und der Streckenabschnitt von Ballinamore nach Arigna eine stra?enbahnartige Dampftram. Anfangs wurden auf beiden Streckenabschnitten acht Tenderlokomotiven mit der Achsfolge 4-4-0T von Robert Stephenson and Company eingesetzt. Spater wurden die Lokomotiven von in der Umgebung stillgelegten Bahnlinien genutzt.

  2. AJ

    Hi Roger, great article. Do you know if the preservation society is a registered charity? They are looking for donations to support them through the COVID 19 emergency. I would be happy to help so long as it is not a private group who benefits. AJ

    1. rogerfarnworth Post author

      Hi AJ
      I don’t know the answer to this. I would have to ask on the Facebook page. I am not sure how Ireland does these things either. I cannot see any indication of gift aid being an option. Sorry not to be able to be of more help
      best wishes


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