Sentinel Steam Railcars - A Recollection

Gillon Ferguson

There was a midday train from Glasgow Queen Street to Hamilton Which had a connection at Shettleston for Blairhill calling at our suburban station of Garrowhill and this service was usually provided by Sentinel steam railcar no 37 "Clydesdale"- an appropriate name.

Burgh-by-Sands: A Sentinel steam railcar calls at Burgh-by-Sands on a Port Carlisle branch service around 1930, with Station Master Walter Tait posing alongside on the platform. The Sentinel is thought to be no 31 'Flower of Yarrow', which was built in 1928 and operated on the Port Carlisle branch up to the time the branch was closed from Drumburgh in 1932, although being on the 'main line' Burgh-by-Sands kept going until 1964. Bruce McCartney Collection //

It is difficult now to remember just what a completely different travel experience this was then: the green and cream livery, the open saloon with bus type seating and above all, the appearance of a chimney sticking through the roof of what looked like a coach. The doors on the engine portion were frequently left open doubtless to help the driver keep cool, allowing fascinating glimpses of the coal bunker and firehole. The insulation must have been good, however, as I do not recall the front part of the saloon being unduly warm.

Stirling: LNER Sentinel steam railcar 310 Prince Regent coupled to an ex-NB 6-wheel coach simmers at Stirling station in 1938. Frank Inglis Collection //1938

The riding was not too bad, though not quite as good as a standard Gresley compartment coach. At least there was not the vibration of a DMU. Performance on the steep climb from Shettleston was not as good as a V1/3 tank, but I do not recall any stalling either . A most charismatic vehicle indeed, and I can remember my disappointment when in 1945 the railcar disappeared to be replaced by a North British 4-4-2 tank hauling two coaches. Sadly none were preserved but there is an Egyptian steam railcar lying unrestored at the Buckinghamshire Railway centre.

Related links

Glasgow, Bothwell, Hamilton and Coatbridge Railway