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No. 60144 King's Courier

Appearing in March 1949, No. 60144 was one of a trio of A1s to be completed that month, two from Darlington and one from Doncaster. Construction was now half-way through the class. It was Darlington Works No. 2063 carrying boiler No. 3945 and coupled to tender 764. Livery was apple green with black and white lining and old gold numerals and letters. ‘BRITISH RAILWAYS’ was on the tender sides.  It was entered service from Doncaster shed (DON) on 3rd March.  Its first recorded sightings were at Ferryhill, Co. Durham on 2nd April, on Copley Hill shed on 8th May but the first train logged was the 10:05hrs ex-King’s Cross. Generally, it worked between the capital and Newcastle, being seen at Heaton on 13th August and New England on 11th September. When photographed on 29th April 1949 on the 17:15hrs Leeds Central-King’s Cross express passenger train it had ‘Doncaster’ painted on the front bufferbeam.

That December it went to Copley Hill (COP) to join four other A1s. In June 1950 it moved to its third shed when it was transferred to King’s Cross (34A) along with Nos. 60128 and 60148. The locomotive was noted in West Hartlepool on the Durham coast line on 8th July 1950. It was one of the later A1s to be painted BR express passenger blue with black and white lining in January 1951 following a heavy intermediate overhaul at Doncaster, also leaving sporting newly fitted King’s Courier nameplates.  Already 42 were in blue and No. 60144 was one of four to be repainted in January. It was named after a racehorse which won the 1900 Doncaster Cup. It was one of thirteen A1s named after racehorses and one of a quartet named that month after 32 had already been named.

From July 1951 No. 60144 was shedded at Copley Hill (now 37B) but moved to Ardsley (37A) in September.  No. 60144 was one of the earlier BR green A1s with orange and black lining when repainted in October 1951 following its first general overhaul and boiler change (boiler No. 29854 fitted). Six had already had a repaint and No. 60144 was one of four more to go into green that month. It worked the 18:33hrs Leeds-King’s Cross on 30th January 1953 and until February 1953 it was seen mainly on King’s Cross-Leeds workings.  It moved to Grantham (35B) in February 1953 with more regular workings to York reported. During 1953 it was pictured heading through Durham with the ‘Flying Scotsman’ headboard to denote its train. Of note was the 09:20hrs Newcastle-Hornsey ECS on 21st March when King’s Courier had A3 No. 60086 Gainsborough making a double-header between West Hartlepool and York. On 25th April it hauled a rugby special into King’s Cross before spending May at Doncaster undergoing another ‘General’, leaving with boiler No. 29810. Perhaps more typical trains at this time were the 18:45hrs King’s Cross-Grantham of 21st July then on the 22nd bringing in a train from Newcastle into the capital at 15:23hrs only to leave on the 17:35hrs train back to Newcastle.

In early emblem guise, No. 60144 is seen at Doncaster Carr Loco – Bill Reed

At about the same time, the locomotive is seen receiving attention at Doncaster – Bill Reed

The locomotive called at Doncaster for another general overhaul during February and March 1995, bearing boiler No. 29873 when it left.  A number of times between May 1954 and April 1956 No. 60144 was seen bringing in the down ‘Flying Scotsman’ into Newcastle but on 9th July 1955 it was heading back south with ‘The Heart of Midlothian’. It took the down ‘Flying Scotsman’ to Grantham on 21st October 1954 where classmate No. 60149 took over the train. Other trains of note were a race special between Grantham and King’s Cross on 7th September, ‘The Aberdonian’ of 4th January 1956 (when it failed at Woolmer Green) and the down ‘Aberdonian’ from King’s Cross on 20th September 1956 (when it worked more successfully). Some 60 observations at King’s Cross between September 1956 and January 1957 show King’s Courier  departing regularly on the 18:45hrs to Grantham, the 10:20hrs to Leeds with the 11:45hrs to Newcastle on the same diagram, the 15:10hrs and 17:35hrs to Newcastle plus the 20:20hrs to Edinburgh. Other trains included a couple of afternoon ones for Leeds.

King’s Courier exiting Gasworks Tunnel on 1st September 1959 – Peter Townend

Following a return call at ‘The Plant’ during March 1957 (boiler No. 29861 fitted) the peripatetic nature of its career continued, and King’s Courier was one of a quartet reallocated to King’s Cross on 15th September that year. On the 19th it worked the up ‘Fair Maid’ then on the 26th hauled that train’s down working between King’s Cross and Newcastle.  In November it was moved back to Doncaster (now 36A). The later BR crest was applied to the tender in September 1958 following an unclassified repair at Doncaster and it returned there for another general repair in April 1959, leaving carrying boiler No. 29820.  While most sightings were in the capital it brought the down mail into Newcastle at 15:20hrs on 10th April 1960 and then was noted later that evening at Doncaster and 0n 14th May No. 60144 took a rugby special from Hull forward from Doncaster to King’s Cross, before concluding the year with its last visit to Doncaster for a general overhaul and the fitting of its last boiler, No. 29814.  The locomotive was seen passing Hatfield on 9th September 1961 with the 20:20hrs Royal Mail express from King’s Cross. Examples of 1962 workings were the up ‘Night Scotsman’ from Doncaster-King’s Cross on 1st March, a King’s Cross-Leeds train on 23rd April and bringing in a train from King’s Cross into Newcastle on 2nd June.

King’s Courier in final condition at Doncaster – Bill Reed

Its last logged runs in 1963 featured a mix of work, typical of the class by now. It brought trains from King’s Cross into Newcastle on 4th January and 23rd February.  On mid-morning 3rd April, No. 60144 was on the up BP tanks at Newcastle. The final workings noted were on from 11th April with King’s Courier seen on a up Class F goods at 13:40hrs then on a down Class E goods  there at 20:24hrs. The locomotive was seen on Heaton shed on 20th April.  Through its service life No. 60144 had been allocated to no less than eight sheds. It had carried seven boilers, all to diagram 118 and was the seventh A1 to be withdrawn, this happened on 30th April 1963. It had lasted 14 years 1 month, over a year less than the class average. It went into Doncaster Works for scrapping on 9th May 1963.

This history was compiled by Phil Champion based on the RCTS book “Locomotives of the LNER Part 2A”, a database supplied by Tommy Knox of the Gresley Society, “The Power of the A1s” by Gavin Morrison and various published photographs.  Revised and updated by Graham Langer, July 2020.