Allocated Works’ number 2020, No. 60156 was ordered as part of Lot No. 388 and completed at Doncaster Works on 19th October 1949, rolled out carrying boiler No. 10593, fitted with roller bearings and wearing BR express passenger blue, lined black and white with the early emblem on the tender.  The locomotive was initially one of eight A1s allocated to ‘Top Shed’ at King’s Cross (KX) but it returned to Doncaster shortly for casual light repairs during December of the same year, returning there again during May 1950 for further light repairs.  Its first recorded working of a named train was on 26th May when it worked the down ‘Tees-Tyne Pullman’ north, one of many expresses handled that year including both up and down ‘Flying Scotsman’ services before a return to Doncaster for a ‘Heavy Intermediate’ in April 1951.  No. 60156 appeared on the down ‘Heart of Midlothian’ on 18th August, departing 14:00hrs with a load of 13 bogie coaches and on the down ‘Flying Scotsman’ on 29th September, covering the leg from Grantham to Newcastle following the locomotive’s transfer to Grantham (35B) on 15th September; the re-allocation was a consequence of a decision to concentrate the A4s at ‘Top Shed’ and re-distribute the A1s across the length of the Eastern Region. No. 60156 was now one of ten A1s at Grantham, six of which were allocated twelve top link crews, two per locomotive, working two turns each weekday, the 10:00hrs Grantham-Newcastle and the 15:00hrs from King’s Cross, seven turns to London and one to York.  Three of the locomotives made double trips to London daily totalling 420 miles, two covered a return run to Newcastle, a 326 mile round trip, and the sixth engine worked the Leeds express, 13:52hrs ex-Grantham, to London, returning with ‘The Aberdonian’ to York and returning with a parcels train, a crew change having been effected at Grantham during the second leg of this diagram which accounted for 376 miles.  Grantham locomotives worked these heavy trains turn and turn about accumulating high mileages.

In BR green with the early emblem, Great Central stands at Grantham (date unknown) – Bill Reed

A further return to ‘The Plant’ from 4th June to 17th July 1952 saw No. 60156 emerge with a replacement boiler, No. 29802, and wearing BR express passenger green livery with the early emblem on the tender having had Great Central nameplates fitted.  Although not the numerically last to be named after one of the LNER’s constituent companies, No. 60156 was actually the last to be issued with the extended plates, bearing the arms of one of the last pre-grouping companies to be formed, which also ensured that the locomotive was one of just four A1s not to have carried a name whilst wearing BR express passenger blue.  One working of note before the end of 1952 was the 19:15 King’s Cross-Fort William train on 10th October which Great Central worked from the ‘Cross although the records don’t show how far north it took the train.  A visit to Doncaster from 20th October to 20th November saw the locomotive fitted with boiler No. 29870 before resuming its duties on the ECML, often hauling the down ‘Flying Scotsman’ north to Newcastle over the following couple of years, interrupted at the end of 1954 with a works’ visit over Christmas for a boiler change, this time for boiler No. 29858.  A train of note during 1955 was a Fred Olsen Line boat train to Newcastle on 27th June, returning thence with the up ‘Heart of Midlothian’ but diagrams for the rest of that year followed the pattern set at Grantham until No. 60156 was called back to Doncaster for a ‘General’ during all of May 1956 which included the fitting of boiler No. 29802.  The records disagree on what happened next, it appears that Great Central moved back to ‘Top Shed’ (now coded 34A) on 16th September but the official transfer date is recorded as 13th October; whatever happened, the locomotive was back in London at the end of 1956 and was noted on a King’s Cross-Niddrie goods train on 17th September, a diagram it worked on the 19th and 21st of the same month prior to a return to passenger work hauling the down ‘Yorkshire Pullman’ on the 24th and 25th, something which seems to have given Great Central a taste for the high life since it was then recorded on numerous ‘Yorkshire Pullman’ and ‘Tees-Tyne Pullman’ trains during the next month!

No. 60156 at ‘Top Shed’ on 1st April 1957, note the reversed headboard – Peter Townend

Later the same day the locomotive passes Hatfield, with the board still reversed! – Peter Townend

During 1957 the pattern remained the same, No. 60156 hauling numerous passenger trains and named expresses to and from the capital, visiting Doncaster for light repairs during February and June before hauling one train of note on 12th July, a York-Inverness sleeper, as far as Newcastle and the inaugural up ‘Fair Maid’ from Newcastle to King’s Cross throughout.  The locomotive finished the year back at ‘The Plant’ for a general overhaul, receiving boiler No. 10593 in the process.  The next 16 months followed much the same pattern, albeit with ‘The Fair Maid’ now featuring on the race card on a regular basis, until No. 60156 was once again transferred, this time to its birthplace, Doncaster (36A), on 18th April 1959.  A further general overhaul was carried out at Doncaster between 17th August and 23rd September including the addition of boiler No. 29815.  Now regular diagrams found Great Central pounding East Coast metals in both directions from Doncaster, frequently being serviced at its old home in London or at Gateshead shed although one interesting exception was a rugby special from Hull to the capital on 14th May 1960.  Following its final general overhaul at Doncaster from 30th May to 14th July 1962 (acquiring its last boiler, No. 29840, in the process), the early ‘60s saw little change in the locomotive’s diet of ECML work, accumulating miles as only a roller bearing-fitted A1 could.  However, the period did bring new named expresses with No. 60156 being recorded on the down ‘Norseman’ on 6th August 1962, bringing the train into Newcastle, the up ‘Northumbrian’ on the 18th October and working the 1E14 up ‘Queen of Scots’ between Newcastle and Leeds on 24th May 1963.

Two for the price of one! Great Central is seen at Sandy on New Year’s Day 1962 – Nick Totty

(The other A1 is not recorded but looks to be No. 60127 Wilson Worsdell)

It seems that Great Central was lucky to avoid the slow decline that afflicted its fellow A1s for it seems to have shunned many of the secondary passenger, parcels and freight trains that humbled other members of the class in their final years and it continued working express passenger trains on the ECML.  However, a final transfer to York (North)(50A) on 8th February 1964 was a consequence of increasing dieselisation on the southern ECML, A1s rarely working south of Peterborough after this time.  In its twilight year No. 60165 now found itself mainly working trains north from York but the inevitable was coming and on 10th May 1965 Great Central was withdrawn at York shed and sold the next month to Clayton & Davie of Dunston for scrapping.  The locomotive had a enjoyed a relatively uneventful life, albeit one clocking up an immense mileage, 1,600 miles per month more than the A4s, only once disgracing itself by coming off the road in the coal siding at ‘Top Shed’!  No. 60156 had lasted 15 years, six months and 21 days and carried eight boilers.

 No. 60156 at Leeds Central on 1st January 1962 – David East

This history was compiled by Graham Langer based on a database compiled by Tommy Knox, with reference to the RCTS book ‘Locomotives of the LNER Part 2A’ and ‘Yeadon’s Register of LNER Locomotives’ as background.