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Great North of Scotland Railway

(Note: Numbers in brackets refer to specific references)

This company served the three or four counties in the North East of Scotland bordering the South coast of the Moray Firth. The line started with a plan for a link between Inverness and Aberdeen and obtained its Act of Parliament in 1846 but from Eglin to Inverness it used running powers granted in 1908 over the Highland Railway. There were numerous single track branch lines and in its final form the GNSR served Aberdeen, Keith, Elgin, Peterhead, Fraserborough, Macduff and Ballater. Ballater, on the Deeside line, saw regular visits by the Queen Victoria's Royal Train as it was the station for Balmoral. Other branches served Boddam and St Combs with a long line running down the banks of the Spey to meet the Highland Railway at Boat of Garten. The company originally operated its own locomotive and rolling stock works at Kittybrewster on the northern approach to Aberdeen The locomotive works moved to Inverurie in 1902 and the company built new housing in the town for its workers.

In the early days the GNSR had troubled relations with the HR, especially regarding access to Inverness, but later cooperation developed and in the 1880's the two companies pooled some of their traffic and granted each other running powers on each others lines. In the early years of the twentieth century there was even talk of a merger. In Aberdeen the relations with the Aberdeen Railway improved following its absorbtion into the Caledionan Railway in 1866 and in 1867 a joint station was built in the town

The GNSR was idiosyncratic, for some time it declined to join the Railway Clearing House and yet it was amongst the first to use single-line tablet exchange apparatus, an early exponent of mail collection on the move and was one of the first companies to employ electric lighting at its stations.


The company owned about a hundred locos, favouring the 4-4-0 type, 4,000 items of goods stock and 400 coaches (non of which were 'second class').

On the freight side the company promoted the local fishing industry, offering special trains and fares for the trade inland and, as in many Scottish areas, the arrival of the railway stimulated the cattle trade. It is also noted for its involvement with the whiskey industry, transporting grain and coal to the many distilleries located in the river valleys (notably on Speyside) and lifting the bottled spirit for transport to the docks or to the rest of the country. There is a rather good and inexpensive little book 'The Speyside Line' published by the GNOS Society which is well worth reading if you have any interest in modelling this area.

Goods stock had dark grey bodies, black ironwork and white lettering. The initials used were GNS.

Passenger stock was in a base colour of dark red (possibly crimson lake similar to the MR coaching stock colour) with the upper panels in white and with yellow lining. I believe the older four wheeled coaches and non passenger coaching stock were in plain all over red and the latter had their ironwork picked out in black. Coaching stock roofs were pale grey when new rather than white. Lettering on coaching stock was yellow shaded with red. Locomotives were green.

Fig ___ GNSR

The five plank wagon is simply a Peco wagon kit with the strapping for the side hinged upper doors added using Slaters 10x20 thou strip.

The three plank fixed sided wagon was made using the top three planks from a Peco seven plank wagon kit body, shortened and mounted on a cut down Peco ten foot wheelbase chassis.

The ten ton van is slightly more difficult, the diagonal strapping is 10x29 thou strip with the heavier vertical wooden frame from 20x20 thou laid over the top.


(1) The Speyside Line

(2) A Pictorial Record of LNER Wagons by Peter Tatlow - OPC - 1976 - ISBN 0 92888 92 7 Contains a couple of photographs of ex GNSR wagons.


Great North of Scotland Railway Association

Available Models

Graham Hughes Kits 20, MacKelvie Road, Lamlash, Isle of Arran Strathclyde KA27 8NP

Mr.Hughes offers a white metal kit of a GNSR 3 plank 8 ton open, I think this is the same wagon as my fixed sided conversion but the chassis will be more accurate. The kit requires wheels and couplings to complete.


The GNOSRA have been most helpful, supplying detailed information on goods livery for inclusion in this article.

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