No. 60150 was built Darlington in June 1949, Works No. 2069 fitted with Diagram 118 boiler No. 3968, and initially turned out in apple green with ‘BRITISH RAILWAYS’ in Gill Sans on the flush-rivetted tender. The locomotive was first allocated on 15th June 1949 to Heaton, one of four Peppercorn A1s originally based there. Surprisingly, after just a short while in traffic, it visited Darlington Works for an unclassified repair, arriving 9th July 1949 and departing on 14th of the same month.
Willbrook was reallocated to Gateshead from 10th July 1949, one of two A1s moved there at that point, the other being No. 60129 Guy Mannering. Early duties on named trains included ‘The Norseman’ on 30th July and the start of a long association with ‘The Night Scotsman’ on the 29th of that month but it was also recorded on the down ‘Yorkshire Pullman’ on 29th September. A brief visit to Darlington Works for an unclassified repair between 31st October 1949 to 2nd November 1949 saw the locomotive return to traffic only to fail at Barkston on 21st June having run the middle big end hot (lubrication to this component was upgraded from the original design) followed by a further failure on 8th August before a ‘Heavy Intermediate’ at Doncaster Works between 12th December 1950 to 12th January 1951. No. 60150 emerged from ‘The Plant’ with the name Willbrook after the 1914 winner of the Doncaster Cup, an Irish bred horse owned by Mr. J. Bryan, and carrying BR express passenger blue livery. The locomotive probably lost the Flaman speed recorder and gained the lipped chimney at this point as well.
A regular turn during 1951 was the up ‘Flying Scotsman’, Willbrook seems to have been something of a favourite for this duty at that time, handling the train dozens of times during the year; however, it was not all glamour jobs during this period, the locomotive was also recorded on freight trains on 19th July (at Loughborough) and an up fast freight there on 17th September. After a short period carrying BR express passenger blue, a works visit to Doncaster for a ‘General’ overhaul from 25th February 1952 to 26th March saw No. 60150 fitted with boiler number 29873 (Diagram 118) and turned out in lined BR green with the early emblem. In this condition the locomotive returned to traffic on the East Coast Main Line and named trains included the up ‘Queen of Scots’ from Newcastle on 17th February 1953, the up ‘Flying Scotsman’ on 28th of the same month and the down ‘Aberdonian’ on 4th April, it was noted heading south through Doncaster on a passenger train on 1st August 1953 before a further ‘General’ at Doncaster (19th August 1953 to 28th September), leaving with boiler number 29861 (Diagram 118)
Willbrook passes through Doncaster on 8th January 1953 – Peter Townend
Although No. 60150 handled and lot of ‘Night Scotsman’ turns at the end of the year and the start of 1954,work hence followed a pattern set by Gateshead which used its roller-bearing A1s Nos. 60154 and 60155 for the ‘Night Scotsman’, Willbrook and No. 60151 Midlothian only getting a look-in once a fortnight when the former pair enjoyed a ‘shed day’. Other Gateshead turns which Willbrook handled included the up ‘Flying Scotsman’ on 10th April that year, the train composed mainly of Thompson stock and taking ‘The North Briton’ (09:30hrs York – Edinburgh) forward from Newcastle on 12th June, leaving from Platform 10, indicating that it had arrived over the High Level Bridge and reversed here; this train was formed of BR Mk1 stock in carmine & cream. No. 60150 was again recorded with ‘The Tees-Tyne Pullman on 2nd July, both up and down ‘Night Scotsman’ on 23rd July and, more notably, handling a diverted East Coast train over the Waverley Route on 7th September.
Willbrook visited Doncaster Works for a ‘General’ from 14th January 1955 to 11th February, leaving with boiler number 29870 (Diagram 118). No. 60150 seems to have handled more than its fair share of ‘Night Scotsman’ trains in the first half of the year, the end of April seeing the locomotive working turn and turn-about on the 25th, 27th and 29th taking three trains a day, for instance on the last two of those dates it worked the up’ Night Scotsman’, the down ‘Heart of Midlothian’ and the down ‘Night Scotsman’! Whether this all proved too much is open to debate but the engine was noted on Gateshead Shed under repair on 21st May. The diet of passenger, parcels and freight trains continued for the rest of the year as well as some visits to other sheds being noted on Haymarket shed on 21st August and at Peterborough on 26th November the same year. Doncaster called again between 14th June 1956 to 4th August for another ‘General’, this time seeing No. 60150 being fitted with boiler number 29842 (Diagram 118). From September 1956 until the arrival of the diesels, Gateshead A1s often worked to Grantham with the up ‘Flying Scotsman’ and ‘Heart of Midlothian’, also handling the up ‘Aberdonian’ as far as Peterborough, No. 60150 taking her share of these duties. After a busy conclusion to 1957, again handling a large number of ‘Night Scotsman’ turns another ‘General’ at Doncaster Works from 1st February 1958 to 6th March, saw the locomotive out-shopped with boiler number 29813 (Diagram 118). Notable trains during 1958 again included ‘The Tees-Tyne Pullman’, ‘The Aberdonian’ and numerous ‘Scotsman’ diagrams although an outing on the up sleeper car express ended in failure at Hatfield, Clacc V2 No. 60916 taking the train forward. Having been observed on a Northbound passenger train at York, 20th May 1959, Willbrook emerged from Doncaster Works on 16th September, fitted with boiler number 29822 (Diagram 118). 1960 added a new named train to the roster, ‘The Tynesider’, which the locomotive was given charge of on several times in January.
On an unrecorded date, Willbrook is seen at York in final condition, note the Diagram 117 boiler – Bill Reed
No. 60150 was reallocated to York on 26th November 1960, passing through Doncaster Works for its last ‘Heavy General’ from 5th July 1961 to 18th August and receiving its final boiler number 29782 (a Diagram 117, with the banjo dome a little further forward), trains of note following its return to traffic included a King’s Cross to Perth sleeper on 29th August and the up ‘Queen of Scots’ the next day. No. 60150 was seen towing failed diesel No. D5828 and its empty coaching stock on 3rd January 1962 although its next visit there was for a ‘Light Casual’ between 19th March 1962 to the 27th of the same month. Later that year the locomotive was seen taking a van train out of Portobello Lane Goods Yard, Sunderland bound for York Dringhouses Yard on 19th June 1962 and noted waiting at Grantham with a northbound express on the 24th December 1962. Parcels, mail and sleeper trains were among the mix at the start of 1963, a more unusual turn on 16th February being the down Shell tanks into Newcastle but by 11th May the locomotive was stopped at York Shed for repairs. Freight trains, however, began to form an increasing part of Willbrook’s work, on 8th June 1963 No. 60150 was recorded with southbound vans through Newcastle station and on 2nd October 1963 none other than H.C Casserley photographed the locomotive on York shed. There followed a final visit to Darlington Works for a ‘Light Casual’ from 30th January 1964 to 5th February and by 4th April 1964 it was to be found on shed at Doncaster. Willbrook was noted on shed at York on 11th April 1964 in the company of its former Gateshead stablemate No. 60155 Borderer, V2 No. 60282 and B1 No. 61021 and was back there on May 2nd with fellow A1 No. 60120 Kittiwake, sharing one of the York roundhouses with Gresley V2 2-6-2 No. 60928 and Thompson B1 4-6-0 No. 61049. Alas, the end was nigh and after final records showing No. 60150 heading south through York on a passenger train on 1st August 1964 in filthy condition and out of traffic on York shed from 5th August, Willbrook was withdrawn on 5th October 1964 and sold to A. Draper, Hull, in December 1964 having carried eight different boilers, the final one being a Diagram 117 design.
No. 60150 at Doncaster MPD on 4th April 1964 – Nigel Kendall
This history was compiled by Graham Langer based on a database compiled by Tommy Knox and with reference to the RCTS book ‘Locomotives of the LNER Part 2A’ as background.