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No. 60115 Meg Merrilies

The second Peppercorn A1 to be constructed at Doncaster works (No. 2032), No. 60115 entered service on 3rd September  1948.  This was almost a month after the class leader but from Gateshead shed rather than King’s Cross.  Livery was LNER apple green with black and white lining and ‘BRITISH RAILWAYS’ written on the tender (No. 733), carrying boiler No. 9661.  The first recorded sighting was at West Hartlepool on the 22nd. Its first reported train was the inaugural up 09:00hrs ‘Tees Tyne Pullman’ and return five days later; it did these workings alone for a month.  The un-named A1 with its plain chimney could be found along the length of the East Coast Main Line.  On 5th November it hauled the 05:48hrs Newcastle to Edinburgh train. Another named train hauled by No. 60115 in these early days was the up ‘Flying Scotsman’ from Edinburgh on 10th January 1949.  Its haulage of a down goods was observed at New Southgate on 11th May. Three days later found no. 60115 on a York to Grantham passenger working.  King’s Cross was reached frequently; for example on both 7th and 8th March 1950 it arrived there at 13:35hrs and departed with the 17:35hrs train.

Changes came in the early 1950s.  No. 60115 went to Doncaster for a ‘General’ on 19th April, emerging on 2nd June wearing BR express blue.  With 13 A1s having being repainted before June and 12 others having appeared in blue from new, No. 60115, as second in the class, was in the middle for blue paint when it was one of three done that month.  Also in June it was named, probably while at Doncaster Works for general repairs which included the repainting; this was becoming the usual practice.  While No. 60114 had run around for a year and a half as the sole named A1 BR had come under pressure, according to Willie Yeadon, to incur the cost of the nameplates for the rest of the class. No. 60115 was one of three to receive names in June as the 7th, 8th and 9th class members named.  Like certain other A1s it was named after a character in Sir Walter Scott’s ‘Waverley’ novels.  Literary sources show that Meg Merrilies was an “unusually tall, mysterious gypsy fortune-teller” with an “apparently supernatural ability to influence events.”  She was based on a real 18th century gypsy.  Though evicted from the Bertram lands in the novel she remained loyal to the family and much of the novel’s plot depended on her actions.  During a visit to ‘The Plant’ for a ‘General’ from 25th April to 29th May the Flaman speed recorder fitted from new was removed, as with the other 19 A1s so fitted, and a lipped chimney replaced the plain version. A further ‘General’ at Doncaster saw No. 60115 appear on 19th September 1952 with boiler No. 9659, becoming the 41st A1 to be repainted into BR green livery.


No. 60115 Meg Merrilies at Belle Isle with the 15:10hrs to Newcastle in July 1958 – Peter Townend

A variety of traffic was recorded.  Express passenger work included the down six coach ‘Heart of Midlothian’ seen passing through Three Counties on 6th June 1951, the up ‘Tees Tyne Pullman’ on 15th and 16th December 1952, the up ‘Night Scotsman’ into the capital at 06:20hrs on 5th April 1954, the up ‘Flying Scotsman’ from Edinburgh to Newcastle ten days later and the up ‘Aberdonian’ into King’s Cross on 20th September 1955.  Other important turns were the Newcastle to Hull special on 5th July 1952, the Delaval to Holloway ecs with 11 coaches on 2nd November 1950 and the 13:45hrs Carlisle to Edinburgh on 28th October 1953.  Meg Merrilies was seen heading north with passenger trains around the Durham coast on 28th March 1953 (train ex-Liverpool) and 18th April.  Special workings along the Waverley route at Riccarton Junction were seen on 28th and 29th October.  Non passenger work featured, like the 19:20hrs Aberdeen to Edinburgh goods on 18th December 1952, the London to Peterborough coal empties on 17th November 1954 and the York to Edinburgh parcels from Newcastle twice in early 1955.  The locomotive visited Doncaster for general repairs during January 1954 (leaving with boiler No. 29872) and May 1955.

No. 60115 had six different boilers during its life.  The fourth, from September 1956 to May 1958, was a (Thompson) Diagram 117 boiler (No. 29784).  These were identical to the (Peppercorn) Diagram 118 boilers fitted to the A1s when new except for the dome which was placed further forward, the thicker barrel plates and a 7 cwt. increase in weight.  Sixteen A1s carried these at various times between 1955 and 1963; No. 60115 was the third to be so fitted.  The later BR crest was applied to the tender in May 1958 after works attention (another ‘General, boiler 29831 being fitted). Again, being the second in the class did not make No. 60115 the second to be so treated – in fact in this case it was one of the last as at least 40 others had the new crest applied earlier.

The second half of the 1950s continued with main line passenger work.  At various times between 1956 and 1960 Meg Merrilies worked these named trains a number of times each: ‘The North Briton’, ‘The Heart of Midlothian’, ‘The Night Scotsman’, ‘The Talisman’, ‘The Flying Scotsman’, ‘The Tees Tyne Pullman’ and ‘The Aberdonian’. Examples include the up ‘Heart of Midlothian’ from Newcastle on 28th January 1956, the up ‘Flying Scotsman’ noted both from and into Newcastle on a number of occasions, the down ‘North Briton’ from Newcastle, the 22:15hrs ‘Night Scotsman’ from King’s Cross on five occasions in December 1956, plus the up ‘Talisman’ taking over at Newcastle to run to King’s Cross on 28th August 1958. Most workings appeared to be south from Newcastle but with some trips further north to Edinburgh.  It also worked the up overnight train ‘The Tynesider’ into King’s Cross several times in late 1958 and early 1959. Other work included the York to Edinburgh parcels from Newcastle at 11:50hrs on 3rd January and 25th February 1956. More prestigious was being at the front of the Royal Train when it was stabled overnight between Picton and Hordon on 27th May 1960.

A superb study made of Meg Merriles at Haymarket shed – Bill Reed

Works attention was undertaken at Gateshead but with visits to Doncaster Works for general repairs, the last of these being at the end of 1959 when Meg Merrilies was fitted with its final boiler, No. 29856. However the day after a special to Hull in July 1952, No. 60115 was under repair at Dairycoates shed.  On 30th November 1960 Meg Merrilies was transferred to Copley Hill shed.  While some new turns ensued such as the 1E15 17:20hrs (Suns) Leeds to King’s Cross on 23rd July 1961, it still found its way back to the North East, being serviced at Gateshead on 4th November. Trips into Newcastle included the 17:35hrs from King’s Cross on 12th March 1962, an up parcels on 16th June and the up ‘Queen of Scots’ from Newcastle on 25th August.  Another named train hauled was the up ‘Yorkshire Pullman’ on 21st July 1962. A Great Yarmouth to Leeds passenger train on 4th August saw No. 60115 at Lincoln then a Leeds to Norwich run a week later saw it pass there again.  Worthy of note was the 18:50hrs King’s Cross to Cleethorpes on 15th September.  Our last sightings of No. 60115 in service are on 20th October 1962 with the 09:20hrs down ‘White Rose’ and the 16:28hrs Doncaster to King’s Cross which arrived at 19:49hrs.  With rapid dieselisation, Meg Merrilies was withdrawn from Ardesley shed on 12th November – the same day as No. 60135, so making them the 4th and 5th A1s to be withdrawn.  On 2nd December it was seen withdrawn at Wakefield shed.  The end came on 24th May 1963 as Meg Merrilies entered Doncaster Works for cutting up.  With a service life of 14 years 2 months No. 60115 lasted a year less than the class average due to the onset of dieselisation.

The end, No. 60115 stands on the scrap road at Doncaster in the fog – Bill Reed

This history was compiled by Phil Champion based on a database compiled by Tommy Knox and with reference to the RCTS book ‘Locomotives of the LNER Part 2A’ as background.  Revised and updated by Graham Langer, April 2020.