No. 60115 was the first Darlington-built A1. After the initial 16 ordered under the 1945 Programme to be built at Doncaster a further 23 were ordered under the 1946 Programme for Darlington to construct although the Works order was not issued until January 1947. Despite being ordered a year later the first of these, No. 60130 (Works No.2049), was built in September 1948, along with Doncaster’s No. 60115 making them the second and third A1s. Fitted with boiler No. 3909, it was seen nearly complete on the 4th and was first noted in steam when running in light engine past Hartburn on the 23rd. Next day it was in steam in Darlington works yard. On the 28th No. 60130 entered service as one of a quintet allocated to Doncaster shed (DON).
An observer looking at the locomotive, resplendent in BR apple green with black and white lining and BR’s name written in full on the tender, would have noticed some differences with the Doncaster-built examples. The cabsides and tender had a smooth finish with countersunk rivets in contrast to Doncaster’s snap-head rivets. Although painted apple green with the words ‘BRITISH RAILWAYS’ in Gill Sans on the tender, the numbers and letters were in ‘old gold’ instead of the standard light cream. The casings over the rear coupled wheels dipped slightly towards the rear. While No. 60130 had a Flaman speed recorder from new like the Doncaster examples it was only one of four Darlington ones fitted from new. This free steaming machine might look a fine sight in the post-war world but the sheet metal chimney reflected this period of austerity.
No. 60130 was seen in Darlington on 2nd October and West Hartlepool on the 3rd. The first recorded trains were the 14:12hrs Darlington-Leeds which it worked daily from the 11th – 19th and the 21st even though it was transferred to King’s Cross shed (KX) on the 17th. Its allocation at Doncaster had lasted just three weeks; the RCTS book Part 2A of LNER Locomotives states that there was little scope for Pacifics at Doncaster because of the number of through diagrams between King’s Cross, Newcastle and Leeds. The first train noted out of the capital was the 11:18hrs on 5th November 1948 with the 11:18hrs King’s Cross-Peterborough. An example of the good loads an A1 could haul was the 15 coach load on the 13:00hrs down on 18th February 1949. Runs to the north included Newcastle on 16th July, then via the Durham coast with a diverted 13 coach up passenger the next day before going to Leeds with the 18:15hrs ex-King’s Cross on the 23rd. Its first recorded named train was the down 17:30hrs ‘Yorkshire Pullman’ on 13th August.
Kestrel on ‘The Yorkshire Pullman’ at Doncaster in 1959 – Phillip Hill
Naming came after nearly two years, on 20th July 1950 following a general overhaul at Doncaster. Kestrel was one of half a dozen A1s with bird names, four from A4s, the name Kestrel being carried by an A4 from February 1937 until November 1947; most of us knew that engine later as Miles Beevor. While in works as well as naming it was repainted in BR blue, one of four done that month. Though No. 60130 was the first Darlington A1 it was the ninth or tenth to be named. 15th September 1951 brought a transfer to Grantham (35B) along with eight others. This was due to a reduction in through engine diagrams in favour of shorter ones with each engine being shared between two crews. Repainting into BR green was in January 1952, following a ‘Heavy Intermediate’ at Doncaster, again the tenth Darlington-built one so treated but about the 20th of the whole class.
A detailed study taken at Copley Hill in 1952 – Neil Wilson
On 21st and 24th October 1952, two weeks after the Harrow & Wealdstone disaster, it worked King’s Cross-Huntingdon Automatic Train Control (ATC) trial trains to satisfy the public that something was being done about an ATC system. A variety of trains were hauled, on 14th February Kestrel was at King’s Cross with a parcels, the down ‘Flying Scotsman’ from was hauled a number of times in April and June into Newcastle, while a King’s Cross-Peterborough local was rostered on 7th and 19th August. 1953 started with a general overhaul which included fitting boiler No. 29847 and transfer to Ardesley (37A) took place on 15th February so West Yorkshire trains were hauled a lot now. Named trains were exemplified by the up ‘Bradford Flyer’ on 16th December 1953, the up ‘West Riding’ on 11th April 1954 and the down ‘Harrogate Sunday Pullman’ on 25th September 1955. The locomotive returned to Doncaster for a general repair at the end of 1954 and left equipped with boiler No. 29849. A couple of hiccups were a failure on the up ‘West Riding’ at Essendine on 4th January 1956 and a failure with the ‘Bradford Flyer’ at Huntingdon on 19th October. Typical of normal workings between September 1956 and January 1957 were the 09:10hrs, 13:18hrs and 15:40hrs King’s Cross-Leeds plus eight departures at noon recorded with the down ‘Queen of Scots’. Having had a further general overhaul during November 1956 (boiler No. 29859 fitted this time) the locomotive returned to Doncaster for an unclassified repair the following June which saw the later BR crest applied to the tender. Three months later No. 60130 was transferred to Copley Hill (56C) along with No. 60123 H.A.Ivatt, once more calling at ‘The Plant’ the following June for another ‘General’ which saw it leave carrying boiler No. 29871. Named trains hauled included the down ‘White Rose’ on 19th November 1958 and the up ‘Yorkshire Pullman’ the following 17th January. An 05:44hrs rugby special was taken from Leeds–King’s Cross on 14th May 1960. Travels to the North East were made several times in October and December 1961 when it was serviced on Gateshead shed. Quite a variety of traffic was pulled by Kestrel, from the up ‘Queen of Scots’ between Newcastle and Leeds on 26th May 1962, to the up seed potatoes at Newcastle on 6th November to the 18:12hrs King’s Cross–Leeds many times between March and June 1963. After another general overhaul in May, when it acquired boiler No. 29805, diversions via Lincoln were noted in May and September 1960 while on 6th July it was seen on Lincoln shed. Each day from 11th – 13th September it pulled a Leeds-Doncaster race special. The last named train that we know Kestrel hauled was the up ‘Yorkshire Pullman’ on 1st February 1964. On 8th May it passed Newark heading south with yet another rugby special.
On 24th May 1962, No. 60130 tears through Grantham – Cedric Clayson
During February 1963 Kestrel received its sixth boiler, No. 29785, a Diagram 117 one which lasted until withdrawal. Fifteen other A1s and two A2s were so fitted. They were identical to the Peppercorn boilers except that the round dome was further forward and it had thicker boiler barrel plates though the heating surface was the same. Reallocation back to Ardesley (56B) came on 6th September 1964 along with No. 60117 Bois Roussel and 60133 Pommern. Our last recorded working of No. 60130 was a York-Tyne Yard goods on 21st October after which it went onto Gateshead shed. From 18th January 1965 to 14th March it was stored at Ardesley though by 9th May it was on Wakefield shed. On 20th August and 9th September it was on standby at Ardesley but withdrawal came on 4th October 1965 when it was one of nine to go. Though it was one of the first to be built Kestrel was one of the later ones to be withdrawn with 37 already having gone. Whilst the A1s’ average lifespan was 15 years, No. 60130 lasted 17 years and one month. It went to J.Cashmore of Great Bridge in December 1965 as one of a pair of A1s they bought.
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, May 2020.