Extract from "The Railway Magazine" 1933
"Farther North Working L.M.S.R."
The John o' Groat service, between Inverness and the far north is well appreciated by both residents and visitors in the North of Scotland, especially those whose journeyings take them into the further parts Sutherland and Caithness. Passengers who prior to the introduction of the summer train services would be obliged to patronise the leisurely train leaving Inverness at 6.30 am (1.15 am from Perth and 10 pm from Glasgow), on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays during the summer, by the John o' Groat reach Wick and Thurso 9 hr. 10 min. after leaving Perth at 12 noon. In the reverse direction, the John o' Groat runs on Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays, providing an equally convenient connection from the South. A restaurant car works throughout from Inverness to Wick, and the train, composed of excellent stock, is normally hauled by a "Clan" class 4-6-0 locomotive, instead of one of the usual "Castle" or "Big Ben" engines which do duty on the other "Farther North" trains.
North of Inverness engines of Highland origin still work nearly all the traffic, and several interesting old locomotives are still to be seen. Among those observed recently was Ben Udlaman, which is believed to be the last of the "Small Ben" class to remain in service with the old Drummond boiler and smokebox wings. She is not, however, in her original condition, as the safety valves have been removed from the dome to the now standard position over the firebox, the top of the dome cover being decorated with a very obvious patch. Loch Ruthven, one of the three "Loch" engines built in 1917, still painted red and retaining the old boiler and louvre chimney, has been working the Thurso branch, and the three surviving Drummond 0-4-4T locomotives are all on the Farther North section, two at Wick (one shedded at Lybster) and the other at Dornoch. Hidden away in a shed at Golspie, and not at Dunrobin, is the Duke of Sutherland's private 0-4-4 tank engine, with the old six-wheeled saloon. It was generally understood that this engine, the Dunrobin, had disappeared during the war, and curiously enough there are people living in the immediate neighbourhood who still believe this to be so. The engine has not been used for many years, as the powers for driving it over the main line appear to have lapsed a long time since. It is still, nevertheless, kept in beautiful external condition, painted dark green with yellow lines and fitted with a copper-capped chimney. The old clerestory-roofed saloon is painted chocolate and white, with handsome decorations reminiscent of the pre-war days.
The passenger rolling-stock now used on both the main lines north of Inverness is very comfortable, and except in the case of a few old London & North Western coaches, the shabbiness typical of immediate post-grouping days on the Highland has disappeared. On a recent occasion the passenger accommodation on the Lybster Light Railway was provided by a large L. & Y. corridor composite coach with a high roof which towered far above the cab and chimney of the small tank engine working on the branch.
Finally, a word of praise should not be omitted with regard to the very efficient system of co-ordination between the L.M.S.R. trains and the buses of the Highland Transport Company. The two systems of transport connect up in a remarkable degree, and tickets, other than cheap day excursion tickets, issued by the respective companies are interavailable.