61264 was built at the Glasgow works of the North British Locomotive Company at a contract price of £16,190 and completed in December 1947.
The locomotive was despatched to Stratford for painting and acceptance trials, thence to the London and North Eastern Railway depot at Parkeston Quay, Harwich, where it entered traffic in December 1947. It was to stay at Parkeston Quay for nearly thirteen years, being put into service hauling express passenger trains to and from London Liverpool Street station, frequently working the famous ‘Scandinavian’ boat trains.
In November 1949, the locomotive exchanged its green LNER livery for BR Black and was re-numbered 61264.
The introduction of electric trains and main line diesel locomotives to the Great Eastern section in the late 1950s meant that, in November 1960, 61264 left the East of England for Colwick depot in Nottinghamshire, following a General Overhaul at Stratford works. It was to remain at Colwick for the rest of its working life.
61264 was used on the many express passenger services between Nottingham, Leicester and London (Marylebone) along the old Great Central route. Once again the introduction of new diesel services meant that steam was relegated to the mundane parcels and excursion duties.
By 1965, the complete end of steam was in sight and 61264 was condemned in November of that year. Rather than being scrapped immediately, the locomotive became Departmental number 29 and was allocated to stationary boiler duties, still at Colwick. There it became very run down, to the point of losing its centre driving wheels.
Final withdrawal came in July 1967, whereupon the centre driving wheels were replaced and the engine was sold for scrap to Woodham Brothers of Barry where it had arrived by October 1968. 61264 was notable for being the only ex-LNER locomotive to be sent to Barry, long after all but one other of the B1 class (61306) had been cut up for scrap.
After purchase by the Thompson B1 Locomotive Trust from Woodham Brothers, 61264 was moved by road in July 1976 to the Great Central Railway at Loughborough. Here the 21-year restoration project started that was to cost over £230,000.
The majority of the cost of the restoration was that of the boiler. This was partly due to the fact that the boiler had been clad in blue asbestos and it took six years to find a firm capable of tackling the boiler repairs.
Following its lifting from the frames and removal of blue asbestos insulation in 1978, the firebox was found to be badly wasted. In fact, both barrel and firebox were declared to be irreparable. Six years were spent trying to find someone to either build new ones, or who would be willing to repair them. Finally, the proposal from Pridham Engineering was accepted and the boiler moved to Tavistock for repair.
Work continued for 10 years, as funds became available, until the repairs were complete. The boiler was returned to Loughborough in August 1995 and refitted to the fully restored frames in 1996. Following the passing of the statutory tests in February 1997, in March that year the locomotive (in LNER guise as green-liveried 1264) moved for the first time under its own power in over 30 years.
Twenty-two days later, with its paint still wet, the first passenger train, for shareholders and members, was hauled from Loughborough to Leicester North and back.
1264 was steamed at Loughborough throughout 1997 but in 1998 moved to Carnforth for main line certification. This was achieved in March 1998 when, in appalling weather, it successfully hauled a 420-ton train from Carnforth to Carlisle over Shap. A Heritage Lottery Fund grant had been obtained by the Trust to assist with the costs of certification as well as outstanding items such as the new tyres for the driving wheels.
In May 1998, 1264 was the star of London Underground’s ‘Steam on the Met’, appearing on the publicity posters for the popular event. However, the boiler suffered with recurrent leakage problems and was returned to Pridhams for further remedial work. Returned to Carnforth in 1999, the engine was re-assembled and visited the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, before a further test run over the Settle and Carlisle line.
In 1999, 61264 appeared, for the first time, working the summer steam trips from Fort William to Mallaig on the West Highland Line. Repainted in BR black livery for the 2000 season, it worked the line for seven more summers, as well as visiting other preservation centres, including the North Yorkshire Moors, West Somerset, Churnet Valley, East Lancashire and North Norfolk Railway. The locomotive also appeared at the 2005 Crewe Works Open Day, as well as hauling 39 charter tours, amounting to 11,000 miles of main line running during this period.
The locomotive was moved to Barrow Hill as home base during 2005. In 2007, 61264 worked on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway with through running to Whitby over the Network Rail line.
Following withdrawal in April 2008, the it was taken to the workshops of LNWR in Crewe where the boiler was lifted from the frames. The tender and chassis were sent to Barrow Hill Roundhouse in Derbyshire. Over the next 4 years the boiler was comprehensively rebuilt, with most major components being renewed or replaced. The work undertaken, at a cost of nearly £450,000 included an entirely new inner firebox, smokebox, smokebox door, tubes, tubeplates (front and back), stays, outer firebox sides, ashpan, throatplate, and one third of the firebox outer backplate. Meanwhile, many sundry jobs were completed on the locomotive chassis and tender at Barrow Hill Roundhouse.
61264 returned to steam and gave its first public train rides in the yard at LNWR Crewe in October 2012. After a further period of fettling and testing, it returned to the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, which is now its long-term home, in December 2012 and entered service there in March 2013.
It is now mainline certified once again, and made its first runs, double- heading with LMS Black 5 45407 The Lancashire Fusilier on the ‘Winter Cumbrian Mountain Express, in January 2014.
In late 2014 61264 was withdrawn from service for winter maintenance where work was focused on the bottom end. The axleboxes on the trailing wheelsets were found to be in poor condition. Upon further inspection cracks were found with the largest running around the wheelhub to the crankpin. The affected wheels were sent to Ian Riley’s workshop in Bury where non-destructive tests revealed cracks 30-40cm deep on the trailing wheelset which meant that a new crankpin was required. On checking the other wheelsets similar problems were identified. The problem has been identified as being due to the casting process in 1947.
In June 2016 the repaired wheelsets were returned to Grosmont and it was back in service in early August of that year.
61264 is owned by the Thompson B1 Locomotive Limited which was formed in 1982 and is a private company limited by shares.
|Home Base||Current Status||Owner|
|North Yorkshire Moors Railway||Operational||Thompson B1 Locomotive Limited|