At the beginning of the year your editor received a copy of the January 1953 edition of Railway Magazine as a birthday present. No prizes for guessing the reason! He soon spotted the items below which he thought provided an enjoyable glimpse of the past.
Ben Alder, Highland Railway Nº2, was the second locomotive of the first batch of "Small Bens" built in 1898-9 in Glasgow. A few of this class were based in Wick.
It was withdrawn in February 1953, set aside for preservation and stored at various locations, including Boat of Garten. Sadly those plans came to nothing and the locomotive was cut up in 1966.
A new build project, which aims to create a working replica of this engine, has been set up by a team based at Bo'ness.
This announcement has resonance today. There is much discussion about how to get freight off the roads, which leads to the inevitable question, "Yes but...how do we get it from the freight terminal to its destination?" A new version of the vehicles mentioned here will probably be the answer.
Battery road vehicles are hardly new - 'milk floats' could be heard every morning, along with the (probably deliberate) crashing of empty bottles into crates, in my suburban childhood.
It's a long time since any train ran from Dornoch. Had more enlightened minds, and some prescience about the future need for modal shift, been around in 1987, a Dornoch Station would now be on the through route from Inverness to Thurso and Wick.
A mixed passenger and freight train as seen here may also be a clue to future developments, insofar as the next trains for the Scottish rural routes may well have space allocated for parcels and light goods.