This film is part of Free

The Swansong of Steam

Steam locomotives await their fate as a new era dawns. Witness final working year of steam and the burgeoning nostalgic tours of the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland.

Amateur film 1970 17 mins Silent

From the collection of:

Logo for Northern Ireland Screen


This is the final year that steam trains were used on Northern Ireland Railways, ending the official use of steam in Ireland. Railway enthusiast A.H. Martin invites you to enjoy a close look at the Lough Erne on duty. Before the last public steam train left the tracks the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland rail tours began. Cross the border and the 30m high Boyne Viaduct on one such trip. Admire the 49 steam locomotive as enthusiasts help it take a twirl on the turntable.

Named after the County Fermanagh Lough, initially this engine performed shunting duties in the Grosvenor St goods yard and Belfast quays. She spent the remaining days of steam continuing these shunting duties in York Street until 1969. Her boiler finally expired at Whitehead in 1972, where she awaits extensive restoration. The Lough Erne’s fate hangs in the balance as she is too big to justify the huge cost of restoration and too small to earn her keep running rail tours. Hope remains that one day cosmetic renovation can enable the Lough Erne to take her place in a future museum at Whitehead. The Boyne Viaduct was an important part of the British plans during World War II to deal with a German invasion of Ireland.