IT’S HARD to think of a less likely tourist attraction that the UK’s second oldest oil refinery, at Grangemouth.
But if you drive past the gas flares and cooling towers for a few minutes, the detour off the busy M9 motorway from Edinburgh to Stirling will take you to a quite extraordinary reminder of a golden age of steam.
For this is the home of the Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway, a five-mile working heritage railway and home to Scotland’s largest railway museum.
The view from the station platform – the main station at Bo’ness was actually relocated from Wormit, at the south end of the Tay Bridge – could hardly be more authentic, although the 0-6-0 tank engine decked out in British Railways black is also “in disguise”.
Despite the BR livery, this is not the former LNER Class J94 engine which once bore that number, but a lookalike – an engine once owned by the National Coal Board which was built by W G Bagnall in 1945 and acquired from the NCB’s Comrie Colliery in Fife.
In its gleaming BR livery it certainly looks the part, though, and it’s only one of a large selection of steam and diesel engines to be found here.
Another surprise is the surprisingly rural atmosphere of the route. Despite the proximity of heavy industry, the line takes passengers to a local nature reserve, and you can always walk back along the coast or disembark at another rural station that has been a favourite with film-makers.
The museum across the footbridge at Bo’ness is open seven days a week until October 28 from 11am-4.30pm and boasts three large buildings full of memorabilia – from full size locomotives to old-fashioned railway signs which once adorned the walls of busy railway stations across the country.
For full details of the railway, see the link above – and more information about the Scottish Railway Preservation Society can be found here.