Sixty BLS Border revivers (including six volunteers from Whitrope Heritage Centre) continued southwards
through the so-called 'Debatable Lands' of not that many centuries ago, dismounting a short distance
on the Scottish side of the now more peaceful line of demarcation. What is not debatable is the quality
of the visit to Saughtree (a blink and you will miss it hamlet), the only Scottish intermediate station on
the Border Counties Railway between Riccarton Jn and Hexham, CP October 1956, and CG in 1958. Set
in superb, remote and sparsely populated Roxburghshire countryside, part of the station building was
leased by Newcastle University archaeology department for a time; this ended in the mid-1980s, and
the building and two acres of land was sold in 1987. From over 200 bids, the successful purchasers
were our member Geoff Mann and his wife Meg. The new B&B operation here is now in the hands of
one of their four daughters, Rachel Dumbarton and her husband Rob. Try the excellent B&B on offer
(heartily endorsed by Mr and Mrs Scottish Sub-Editor) and you can read the whole story from 1862!
The guest accommodation has its own private entrance from the platform to the waiting room, with
TV and tea-making facilities. Breakfast is served there each morning. Access from the waiting room to
two adjoining single bedrooms (formerly the ticket office and the ladies waiting room) leads onto an
en suite shower room. http://goo.gl/rJkosh Tel: 013873 76213.
The track and rolling stock was all obtained by Geoff and his contacts locally and from around the
country, they also restored the station building to a habitable condition, installing electricity and
water. Our party had a successful all-track coverage commencing around 11.30. Traction was a Ruston
0-4-0 DM No.275882 'Meg of Saughtree', originally from Hull Oil Refinery. Passengers rode in two 13-
ton 5-plank wagons B740080/4 (seating with ingenious concealed stepped access; Geoff is an architect
of repute!) and in a 20-ton brake van B950001 'Les Prothero', named after a late stalwart of the works
here. It has the distinction of being the first brakevan built by BR; an LMS design was used. There is
over a third of a mile of 'main' line, with a siding into a loading bank opposite the passenger platform.
A headshunt from this loading bank parallels the running line southwards; each of these is long enough
to accommodate the train. Going north a siding trails back on the Down side towards the station, and
on this a facing point leads onto a connection into a building, which once provided accommodation for
two railway families. It has been converted into an engine shed which houses a Permaquip four-seater
man-carrier (perhaps a Mann-carrier?). The trip (with 'Meg' at the north end of the train and Geoff
driving) began from the platform, propelling back to where there was once a four-arched viaduct (over
Dawston Burn and the B6357 road), demolished by Borders Council in the 1960s. The north extremity,
loading bank and its headshunt were also covered as was the siding. The radius on the curve to the
engine shed is too tight for the wagons to clear the entrance so the trolley was used to give rides
between the shed branch and the very end of line, through the (opened) gate that keeps the local
sheep out. Being open and low on the ground the exhilarating ride appeared fast.
Tea, coffee and biscuits were kindly provided. To recognise the facilities provided by Geoff and his family, a £200
donation was made to the local volunteer 'Newcastleton Rapid Response Service' providing medical
assistance whilst awaiting an ambulance. This can take a long time in this remote area with poor roads.