The McAllister Group’s operations are broad and diverse – both in terms of our service offer and geographical coverage. The image depicted above highlights one of the more unusual tasks we undertake throughout the year and which also provides a glimpse into our Industrial past. The McAllister Group provides a tanker filled with water to the steam-hauled excursion train – The Portrush Flyer at Central Station in Belfast for its outbound and inbound journeys during the summer months. Looking not unlike the famed Thomas the Tank Engine, the 4-4-0 three-cylinder compound locomotive was built in 1932 in Manchester by Beyer, Peacock and Co. Ltd.

The blue steam-engine number 85 with factory plate number 6733 was named Merlin after a bird of prey by its operator the Great Northern Railway (Ireland) Ltd as were the other four V Class locomotives. The V Class was intended for use on the accelerated Dublin – Belfast route but experienced many teething troubles which ultimately caused its demise. In 1958, No. 85 Merlin was given to Córas Iompair Éireann following the split in the Great Northern Railway Board. Set to be scrapped like the other V Class engines, Merlin was rescued by the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum in 1965. In the interim years, the engine has been housed in a number of different locations including Harland & Woolf. The engine was returned to active service in 2014 and is used by the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland/Steam Trains Ireland for excursions during the summer for families and enthusiasts. Visit

Leave a Reply