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No. 60154 Bon Accord

Locomotive No. 60154 was erected at Doncaster, Works No. 2048 to order number 388, and completed on 23rd September 1949, carrying boiler No. 10591.  Like all Doncaster A1s, the engine was attached to a rivetted tender and appeared in BR express passenger blue at the outset, it was also one of five A1s to be fitted with roller bearings.  The fitting of roller bearings was covered in the portrait of No. 60153 Flamboyant and at least No. 60154 seems to have made better use of them!  The locomotive’s first shed allocation was to Gateshead (GHD) for what was to be the start of an illustrious career, evidenced by its first sighting hauling  a named train, the down ‘North Briton’ at Newcastle on 19th October the same year.  In December it returned to Doncaster and again during April 1950 for ‘Light Casuals’ before making its first recorded visit to the capital on 4th October that year.  On 7th March 1951 the engine was back at Doncaster for a ‘Heavy Intermediate’ having accumulated 128,868 miles in traffic from new, leaving ‘The Plant’ on 18th April bearing the name Bon Accord.  This is another A1 name with a Scottish connection, being the motto for Aberdeen, Bon Accord being the French for “Good Agreement”. Legend tells that its use dates from the Wars of Scottish Independence in the 14th century, when Robert the Bruce and his men laid siege to Aberdeen Castle, before destroying it in 1308 and retaking Aberdeen for the townspeople. Bon Accord was the secret password used during the campaign.  It also has a Walter Scott connection, appearing in his works to describe Aberdeen, “The ancient town of Bon-accord”.

Workings over the next couple of years were fairly routine but the locomotive was recorded as having failed at Peterborough on 4th March 1952 with the 08:35hrs Glasgow to King’s Cross.  Bon Accord returned to Doncaster on 10th July for a general overhaul, having now covered a further 251,743 miles, which included its first boiler change, leaving on 15th August with boiler No. 29820.  This visit to ‘The Plant’ was also notable for the fact that No. 60154 was repainted in BR express passenger green, lined with black and orange and with the early emblem on the tender.  On 13th September Bon Accord was chosen to haul the Royal Train for the first of several times; on this occasion the train, consisting of nine coaches, ran into Newcastle at 04:27hrs, whence our locomotive took it forward to Doncaster, returning from there at 16:25hrs to arrive back at Newcastle at 20:03hrs.  On 10th January 1953 No. 60154 was once again allocated the Royal Train duty, on this occasion taking over from its sister No. 60131 Osprey at York to haul the train to Edinburgh, conveying HM the Queen, HRH the Duke of Edinburgh and HRH Princess Margaret to the Earl of Dalkeith’s wedding, returning that evening to York; the train had originated from Wolferton.  November found the locomotive back at Doncaster for a general overhaul, this time exchanging its boiler for No. 29802.  After all the prestigious trains hauled during that year, one of No. 60154’s last duties in 1953 was to take the down coal empties from King’s Cross on 22nd December!

During 1954 Bon Accord continued to traverse the entire length of the East Coast Main Line (ECML) being recorded at Edinburgh on 16th June prior to taking the 16:00hrs Glasgow-Newcastle forward and at King’s Cross on 24th July at 07:30hrs having arrived with an overnight express.  A brief visit to Doncaster for a ‘Light Casual’ in October saw the engine return to traffic on 15th November before it was next recorded on a named train, the up ‘Flying Scotsman’, at Newcastle on 19th February the following year.  A flurry of express trains during 1955 included the up ‘Heart of Midlothian’ on 9th April, the up ‘Flying Scotsman’ on the 11th of that month and the 28th May and the up ‘Aberdonian’ from its namesake on 30th July although the locomotive was noted as a failure at Biggleswade on 7th May on a Harrogate-King’s Cross service, the locomotive being detached and taken light engine to Hitchin shed.  Following a works visit in Gateshead in July, No. 60154 once again called at Doncaster at the end of the year, with a further 121,786 miles on the clock, for a ‘General’ which included equipping it with boiler No. 29833.  Trains hauled during 1956 included ‘The North Briton’ a number of times during January and February, ‘The Flying Scotsman’, ‘The Heart of Midlothian’ and ‘The Queen of Scots’ although it was also recorded on the 11:50hrs York-Edinburgh parcels train, notably on 26th May and 6th June and working a diverted East Coast express over the Waverley route on 29th August before finishing the year back at Doncaster for an unclassified repair.

Following a works visit in April for a general overhaul (including fitting boiler No. 29874) it looked like 1957 would bring a similar mixture of diagrams but the routine work was once again interrupted by Royal Train duties.  On Wednesday, 10th July, the Royal Train, comprising 11 coaches and was hauled by Thompson Class L1 tanks Nos. 67766 and 67777 from Catterick Bridge to Catterick Camp over the military railway. On arrival back at Catterick Bridge Bon Accord, specially polished up for the occasion, arrived at the station ready to back on to the Royal Train. Coupling up to the train No. 60154 left at approximately 12:45hrs for Eryholme Junction where another engine waited to take the Royal Train on to Harrogate. No. 60154 then returned light engine to Darlington.  The next two years saw the locomotive return to more routine work, although it was seen more and more often in the capital, only interrupted by a trip to Doncaster for a general overhaul in August 1958 to have boiler No. 10598 fitted after adding another 120,524 miles to its tally.  A return visit to ‘The Plant’ in March/April 1960 may have had more significance, leaving the works on 1st May should have ensured it was in tip-top condition to once again haul the Royal Train, this time on 26th of May from Picton to Horden, the train having originated at King’s Cross conveying HM the Queen and HRH the Duke of Edinburgh, sharing the duties with sister locomotive No. 60115 Meg Merrilies.  Unusual duties took the locomotive to Aberdeen on 26th June, this time hauling a special.  1960 concluded with Bon Accord being transferred to York (North)(50A) on 20th November.

Bon Accord runs through Doncaster with an express on 27th May 1961 – Mike Mountford

Later the same day the locomotive runs light engine back through the same station – Mike Mountford

The early ‘60s saw No. 60154’s duties follow a pattern familiar among other examples of its class, a gradual loss of prestige trains and its use on increasingly mundane turns, the locomotive paying its last visit to Doncaster on 18th September 1962 for a general overhaul which included fitting its final boiler, No. 29803, the last in a succession of diagram 118 boilers it had carried.  A return to traffic on 12th November found it working the 7S02 Gainsborough-Uphall Shell tanks on 21st of the same month and the 09:40hrs up Seed Potatoes the next day.  A number of passenger workings at the start of 1963 restored some of Bon Accord’s honour including a couple of stints on overnight sleeper trains into King’s Cross on 10th and 11th January as well as other ECML express turns but 28th July saw the locomotive re-allocated again, this time to Leeds Neville Hill (55H), to eke out its days working trains in the North East, By this time A1 overhauls and repairs had been assigned to Darlington Works and No. 60154 called there for light repairs in August and October 1963 and October and November 1964. 

No. 60154 is seen from Eryholme box, June 1964 - Chris Nettleton

However, Bon Accord’s career was not quite over and a brief Indian Summer during 1964 and 1965 found it working to more and more diverse destinations, the locomotive being recorded on Liverpool-Newcastle services and on 5th June it worked a Bradford-Glasgow relief throughout, overnighting at Dumfries shed and returning on the 6th.  Interestingly, at some stage during this period the locomotive had the background to its smokebox number plate and shedplate painted red.  Regular workings over the Settle & Carlisle with both passenger and freights trains challenged the locomotive during that final summer, as well as returns to Glasgow where it was often spotted on Polmadie shed but the inevitable was coming and after returning to Neville Hill at the start of October the Royal favourite was withdrawn on 4th October and consigned to Thomas Ward, Beighton, Sheffield, that November, a sad end for a locomotive that had a longer and more eventful life than many of its sisters, sixteen years and eleven days.  It was whilst the locomotive was based at Neville Hill that a young Tony Watson, then a fireman at the depot, made its acquaintance – Tony was our photographic archivist for many years!

A contrast in ECML power at Newcastle as No. 60154 stands with an Edinburgh-Leeds train on 1st August 1964 – Michael Denholm

Tony Watson, the Trust’s photographic archivist, when he was a young fireman at Neville Hill – Tony Watson

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.