Great North of Scotland Railway (GNSR) - GNSR Inverurie Works - B

Great North of Scotland Railway (GNSR) - B

GNSR Inverurie Works

The Company undertook all its maintenance and some construction at Kittybrewster, but the site here became more and more congested, so in the early 1900s a new works was constructed at Inverurie, complete with staff housing. Locomotives and rolling stock were then constructed there until the grouping. This works survived until 1969 and was well known for its high standard of construction and repairs.

GNSR Hotels

The Company eventually owned three hotels, two in Aberdeen and one on the coast with a golf course at Cruden Bay.

GNSR Buses

The GNS was one of the earliest users of buses as feeder services to the railway lines. Traffic in the summer months was increased by the number of tourists in the area and several tours were run specially for them.

GNSR Reputation

The early management of the company achieved a very poor reputation and almost bankrupted the company in 1866, but gradually it recovered to be one of the more efficient lines. It had to be, due to the low level of traffic: there was little industry and the farming communities spent as little as possible on transport. But it was also an innovator, inventing the first automatic tablet changing apparatus for instance. Most of the lines were single with frequent passing places, but some quite creditable speeds were recorded. Management was ever conscious of costs and kept them under control. From the 1880s onwards, the company produced a respectable although not sparkling dividend for its shareholders. 

GNSR Grouping and After

In 1923, the Great North became the Northern Scottish Area of the L&NER. Fairly soon, most management functions were moved south to Edinburgh, but there was little investment so the atmosphere of the old company lingered. Even in BR days, strong GNS traditions survived. Gradually road competition took its toll. Two of the branches lost their passenger services in the 1930s and a further in 1950.

GNSR Post-Beeching

The Beeching Report led to the closure of all the remaining GNSR branches. The GNSR main line remains in use, from Aberdeen to Keith, although the Highland route was preferred to the (longer) GNSR route between Keith and Elgin - and thence onwards to Inverness.

The main line is as busy as it ever has been. The timetable was completely reorganised in the 1960s to offer only through trains between Aberdeen and Inverness and this service has increased over the ensuring years as demand has been spurred by oil prosperity and congestion on the parallel roads. Recently, the section between Kittybrewster and Inverurie has been re-doubled and a replacement station is being constructed at Kintore. There is even talk of re-opening a suburban service between Aberdeen and Inverurie.

GNSR The 21st Century

Several abandoned parts of the former GNSR network have been rescued and put to productive railway use.

GNSR These include:

  • Royal Deeside Railway (and Royal Deeside Railway Preservation Society).
  • Keith & Dufftown Railway.
  • Maud Railway Museum.
  • Ferryhill Trust.
  • Grantown East station building.

Not much else remains of the Great North. One of the last 4-4-0s, Gordon Highlander, was preserved by British Railways in the late 1950s. It worked specials until 1965 and has since been in the Glasgow Museum of Transport.

In addition to former GNSR rolling stock at the Royal Deeside Railway and Ferryhill Trust, one saloon coach and a wagon are preserved at the Scottish Railway Museum at Bo’ness. A few other coaches survive, but the most interesting collection is to be found in the farmyards of Aberdeenshire. Inverurie Works sold off many coach and wagon bodies from the 1920s to the 1960s and a few survive, including several built over 100 years ago.


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