Bringing Fife’s steam history back to life

Steam locomotive NCB 29 in 1974.
Steam locomotive NCB 29 in 1974.

A group of rail enthusiasts in Lathalmond are fundraising in a bid to restore a piece of Fife history.

The National Coal Board No 29, a steam locomotive which transported coal around many of the Kingdom’s collieries, including the Frances in Dysart, currently sits dismantled at Prestongrange Industrial Heritage Museum in Prestonpans.

The Shed 47 Railway Restoration Group has been offered a permanent loan of the locomotive, with the aim of restoring and developing it into a tourist attraction.

For the first stage of the project, the group needs to raise £2500, which will cover the cost of having the locomotive’s boiler checked and identifying repairs that need to be done before it can be brought back to Fife.

Grant Robertson, Shed 47 secretary, said it was important that the locomotive was saved.

“It’s preserving a bit of Fife history and bringing it back into use,” he said.

“It’s important to save these things when we can and bring the sights and sounds of the steam locomotive back to Fife.

“That would be really special.”

The locomotive was used at collieries around Fife, operating at the Mary pit in Lochore, the Lindsay Colliery in Kelty, Cowdenbeath Central Workshops, Bogside Mine and Frances in Dysart.

It was used to bring loaded coal trains to the main line for them to be taken away.

Grant explained that the locomotive moved from site to site as the collieries closed down.

He said: “Frances was its final working place before it was taken out of use – I think around 1975.

“It had been used there for many years.

“The condition it is in now is what it was like when it was given up on at Frances.

“After that it was used as an ornament at a playpark and it suffered from that.

“Then the group from Prestongrange saved it.”

The group hopes to use the restored locomotive to attract more visitors to its base in Lathalmond.

But before it can be used as a tourist attraction it must be fixed.

Grant said the locomotive would need a lot of work before it could be put back into service, adding: “There is a lot of damage and wear and tear and that needs dealing with.”

If you would like to support the restoration of the National Coal Board No 29 you can do so by visiting