Wednesday 24 December 2014

Will 76084 go mainline in 2015?

76084 Locomotive Company Limited has been running a 'Go Mainline' Appeal for over a year now. What progress has been made?

Enough funding has been obtained through the sponsorship scheme to fit all the Train Protection & Warning System (Mainline Lite in some places) and almost all of the On-Train Monitoring and Recording System. Many of the parts are on order for these. The Company now need to push for GSM-R (Global System Mobile Communications - Railway) funding. With help from shareholders and supporters alike this can be achieved.

76084 has a Support Coach waiting in the wings for the day she hauls a mainline charter. 76084 has been allocated the TOPS running number 98484. Preparations are in hand to recruit a Support Crew near to the time she goes mainline.

So getting back to the question in the title. Knowing how these things pan out let's say mid-2015 for a mainline debut but it will be highly dependent on a number of things falling into place. So watch this space.

I'm frightened to book any holidays next summer as I want to be on the first charter she pulls. Can you help us get ALL the funding in place? Follow our '12 Days of Christmas' to see if there is something you could fund. 

See you on the mainline in 2015.

Wednesday 26 November 2014

76084 Locomotive Profile DVD

Just heard from the Production Department that the 76084 - Locomotive Profile DVD will be with me Monday or Tuesday at the latest next week.

It runs for a staggering 2 hours and has footage going back to Woodham's through some of the milestone moments of restoration (thanks Roger Norris and Mel Rutter) to her return to traffic and sojourns on 3 heritage railways with shots of the Travelling Post Office drop/pickup on the GCR and, of course, the recent 60 mph speed runs.

We will have sufficient stock to meet the pre-orders from the Annual General Meeting and a good few more besides.Buy online now and it will be posted to you next week. A little pre-Christmas treat. The DVD will be advertised in the railway press and on sale in the North Norfolk Railway Shop(s).

At £15 + £1.49 post and packing it will make a great addition to any rail enthusiasts' collection.

Each sale will bring in a little more funding for our Go Mainline Appeal

I can't wait to view it!!

Tuesday 18 November 2014

76084's Major 'First'

Whilst 76084 clocked up a number of 'firsts' on the Great Central Railway in October (see separate article) the chief amongst them must be clocking 61 mph.

When 76084's Mark 2A BR tender was restored we had the wheel bearings examined by an engineer who put a question mark over their high speed capabilities but passed them for heritage railway speeds of 25 mph. 

Thinking back Phil Rollin was fortunate that 76084 remained coupled to her original tender throughout her 14 year 4 month stay at Dai Woodham's scrapyard. But such a long period of inactivity in salt-laden air from the sea must have taken its toll on mechanical parts.

The question of the tender bearings suitability for high speed running, especially with our ambition of going mainline, had to be answered. Where better to put the bearings to the test than on the GCR.

So, after advice from the GCR management, 76084 was turned to run facing north on the better 'down main' on the morning of 20 October 2014. The tender was full of coal and water and a 5 coach consist coupled up. Speed on the 'up main' were limited to 45 mph but 76084 performed 4 runs on the 'down' where maximum speeds recorded were 58, 60, 60 and 61 mph respectively.

And how did the bearings stand up to this treatment? With no problems at all. They reached an acceptable operating temperature and stayed there.

There is a video on YouTube that complements this article.

The mainline beckons in 2015

Help us get there by sponsoring parts of the safety systems here.
57 mph through Quorn & Woodhouse

Thursday 16 October 2014

The 'Firsts' Keep Happening for 76084

The Great Central Railway (GCR) is a heritage line with a difference. 

76084 being there as one of the operating fleet during October she is clocking up a number of 'firsts' since being restored and returned to traffic in July 2013.

  1. Operating on a 'mainline' - the GCR is Britain's only mainline heritage railway and you are transported back to the days of regular steam trains be they passenger or freight passing each other at speed rather than in passing loops with attendant token exchange.
  2. Pulling a Travelling Post Office - the Railway Vehicle Preservations set of operating TPO vehicles are a quality piece of railway restoration and 76084 has been privileged to be the motive power on 2 demonstrations during the Autumn Steam Gala which leads to the next 'first'. Video can be seen here.
  3. Running at 40 mph - the TPO demonstrations have to be done at a raised speed and the GCR is the only heritage line that can run at up to 75 mph compared to 25 mph on most heritage railways. So running at 40 mph on the TPO is another first.
  4. Windcutter train - the GCR is the home of this project and 76084 was again privileged to be motive power on one mineral wagon turn as can be seen here.
There are bound to be more 'firsts' on the Great Central. Have I missed any out? Of course, if you have ridden behind her at the GCR then it must have been a personal first.

If you haven't seen 76084 performing on the GCR then time is running out. She will be in service on the next 2 weekends before returning to the North Norfolk Railway to take part in their Santa season.

Friday 10 October 2014

76084 Recreating Great Central History

One of the key points of heritage railways is their recreation of the lines' history. Sometimes the locomotive classes worked on that line in normal service, sometimes they did not.
   The 76000s -BR Standard Class 4s -did work along the old Great Central main line. So although 76084 itself worked around the North West others could be found on the GC 50 to 60 years ago. A photo in a recent "Steam Railway" shows 76036 ready to leave Marylebone with a two coach parcels train for the GC main line in April 1963. Looking at my copy of the thorough RCTS "British Railways Standard Steam Locomotives" Volume 2 shows more of them working on the southern end of the GC plus others working along the route of current heritage GCR. In fact 76036 was one of ten (76035-76044) delivered to Neasden shed in mid 1954 which were used on suburban and parcels trains between Marylebone -Aylesbury plus goods trains between Neasden -Woodford Halse and Aylesbury -Quainton Road. In June 1955 76035 was now at Woodford Halse shed and was seen on Leicester Central -Marylebone semi-fasts. By the summer of 1958 76035 -76044 could still be seen on semi-fast passenger trains from London -Leicester, Neasden - Woodford Halse goods and Marylebone -Aylesbury suburban services. After Neasden shed closed in 1962 76035 -76043 moved to Cricklewood shed on the MIdland Division but continued to work on the GC line. On July 17th 1962 76037 replaced ailing B1 61106 on the six coach 12.25 pm Nottingham Victoria -Marylebone at Woodford Halse then "easily kept time reaching a maximum of 81 mph down the 1 in 105 gradient between Amersham and Chorley Wood." By 1964 76035/37/39/41/89 were based at Willesden which was now responsible for locomotive workings on the Marylebone line.
   What about 76000s running along the line forming the present GCR between Loughborough -Leicester North (Belgrave & Birstall)? Daytime Marylebone -Sheffield Victoria or Manchester London Road expresses were replaced in 1960 by Marylebone -Nottingham semi-fasts which were regularly hauled by Standard 4s "which were capable of fast running" in tight timings. This seems to have lasted several years.
    So when you see 76084 on the Great Central on a weekend this October or, better still, ride behind it, you will be riding behind a member of a locomotive class which worked along there in  the 1950s and 1960s.

76084 on Windcutter rake of mineral wagons

Wednesday 8 October 2014

76084 at Leicester North (GCR) October 2nd 2014

                            76084 STEAMING ON THE GREAT CENTRAL
Attending the Great Central Railway's gala marked the third heritage line on which 76084 has run since the completion of restoration last year. It is different in character from the other two. While the North Norfolk is a coastal line with one main steep bank and the East Lancs has more gradients and sharper curves around the Pennine hills the GCR is a preserved section of main line. So here 76084 has long stretches of straight track, much more gentle curves and gradients typically as easy as 1 in 176. Our locomotive went past an impressive array of signals, passed the extensive Swithland Sidings and on the long double track section passed other trains without having to wait until both were in a station.
    76084 steamed well on the first two days when I attended and by all accounts did so on the other two. In attendance throughout the gala were some of the Restoration Team, mainly from the North East, who prepared the engine from 6 am and disposed of it at the end of the day. There was plenty of chatter from 76084's chimney on the variety of passenger and goods trains it hauled as well as clouds of steam billowing from it to see and smell. Whatever the train it performed well and made an impressive sight at the head of all of them. With these different trains and passing others on the double track it was just like a main line scene of the 1950s or 1960s -when 76084 was in BR service.
    The Great Central is to be congratulated not only for developing into such a major railway but also for the intensive services provided during the gala. Even on the 'quieter' first two days you didn't have to wait more than 10 to 15 minutes to see another train. Thanks to the loco crews and plenty of uniformed platform staff station stops were smart and the trains were soon on their way again. The possibilities when the GCR has the missing bridge put back in at Loughborough to link up with the GCR (N) are exciting. A heritage main line railway from the outskirts of Leicester to the outskirts of Nottingham.
    76084 played its part well in the gala, attracting plenty of attention. As well as shareholders and those who restored there were others who came to see and ride behind it. It was a delight to see, hear and smell it in action again. It proved what we always knew it would be: an economical 'big' (i.e. tender) locomotive ideal for pulling heritage railway trains.
    76084 is scheduled to haul weekend trains at the GCR for the rest of October. The GCR is in a central England location. If travelling any distance it's probably best to contact the GCR beforehand to check when it is running. Otherwise, why not go to see 76084 and travel behind it yourself?!

Tuesday 30 September 2014

Tough Trains - GREAT TV

We are always looking for TV programmes to do with railways. So we get lots of Thomas the Tank Engine hits and usually little else.

Imagine my surprise when channel hopping to find a programme called Tough Trains on the Travel Channel and it's brilliant. The link below will take you to the Travel Channel Tough Trains webpage. There are 6 hour long programmes in the series. Tonight is number 3.

Last week's  took us some 300 miles inside the Artic Circle in Russia and I lost count of the number of times the -30 C outside temperatures were used as an excuse to have a shot of Vodka. The railway serves the Russian gas/oil fields and the marshalling yards are brim full of gas tanker trains. In the first programme the presenter Zay Harding traveled across South America ending  up in Bolivia where there are redundant steam locomotives still by the side of derelict Depots.

You can find the Travel Channel on:

Freeview 42 (6pm to 10pm)
Freesat 150
Sky 249/251
Virgin 288

Tough Trains - Vietnam's Reunification Express screens at 9pm tonight

Tuesday 29 July 2014

New (to me) Photo of 76084 Discovered

I'm always looking for images of 76084 on the internet or in published works. New discoveries are getting few and far between these days but I made one recently.

Whilst browsing around a local antiques centre I came across a book that I had not previously seen by the late Robert Adley MP. I'm familiar with his book 'In Search of Steam' amongst other titles. So when I saw 'Out of Steam' by this author tucked in a corner on a bottom shelf my interest was piqued.

I always thumb through books of the latter days of British Railways steam in the hope of coming across that not-before-seen image or mention of 76084.

Imagine my surprise when I got to page 150 of 'Out of Steam' - the image there determined immediately I would have to buy the book. Stood between 44901 and 76084 in Barry Scrapyard was, as the book describes him, the Last Man of Steam, Dai Woodham. He is holding what looks like a drinks flask and is smiling for the camera and photographer, the author Robert Adley. This is the first image I have seen of our locomotive and Dai together. In fact, if you do a Google image search for Dai himself less than a handful are found.

I am now trying to get permission to utilise the image but it may take some while. Robert Adley is deceased, the book is out of print, the publishing house was taken over by Haynes, Haynes have no archive copy of the book to refer to and the last known address of his widow Jane was in the nineties and several J Adley's have themselves passed away since 1993.

Let's hope we are successful in getting permission to use the image. Unitl then you will have to find your own copy of 'Out of Steam - the Beeching years in hndsight' by Robert Adley (ISBN 1-85260-202-3). Good luck!

Thursday 17 July 2014

76084 Returns on 21st

76084 has been in traffic for a whole year now and it is amazing how the time has flown by.

She has been out of action of late having undergone an annual inspection and had her paint job finished off. Yes, you read correctly - finished off.

When the timetable for her return to traffic was set for 13 July 2013 there were a multitude of considerations to take into account. One such was that the North Norfolk Railway's talented loco painter was on holiday for 2 weeks in the period leading up to 13/7. As much as could be done was on turning 76084 from a primed and undercoated machine into a shinny black ex-BR Standard 4. 

To the casual onlooker she was turned out well but something had not been completed - the varnish coating. To paint a machine that operates outdoors in all climates and generates copious amounts of heat in the process you have to put down several layers of first primer then undercoat then top coat and to protect it all at least a couple of coats of varnish.

Over the past couple of weeks that is just what has been happening to the business end of 76084 - having the top coat protected by varnish. So when she comes back into traffic next Monday (fingers crossed) she will look really well. 

Let us have some photos if you are fortunate to be in her presence. I will have to content myself with the NNR's webcams.

Tuesday 8 July 2014

Tender Water Gauge Fitted

 76084 has been running for almost a year without a tender water gauge. It doesn't sound much but not knowing the water level in the tender makes operations somewhat uncertain.
Frequent stops at the water tower to ensure she is topped up has been the norm. Now 76084 need only visit the water tower as and when needed.

The water gauge was fitted during her annual examination by our 'Engineering Team' shown here in front of 76084. They are, from left to right, Mel Rutter, Mal Rutter and Dave Husband. Not in the pic was John Oldcorn who fitted the new laminate glass cab windows - a requirement of network rail for locos on the mainline.

Nice to know she passed her examination with some ease - all down to a quality restoration job. A big thank you from all of us armchair supporters. 

Friday 4 July 2014

76084 Photographic Competition 2014

As the first anniversary of 76084's return to service after what the Railway Magazine recently referred to as a 'protracted' restoration it is time to take stock.

We have in recent years produced a '76084 Calendar' to raise fund during the protracted restoration. We still need funds for two of the three technologies needed to go mainline. We have successfully raised funds for and procured TPWS. Over the past year so many amateur and semi-professional photographers have taken stunning images of our pride and joy. We would like to put some of them in our 2015 Calendar and produce something that BR Standard enthusiasts at the very least would want to put up at home to view through 2015.

So we are launching our first 76084 Photograph Competition. Put simply:

  • The subject for the 76084 Photographic Competition 2014 is "76084 - her first year in preservation".  
  • Entries should be submitted electronically by via email to and must be 72 dpi and between 1MB and 5MB. Entrants should include their own name, address and telephone number in the email.  
  • Only one entry per person. 
  • Entrants must not be professional photographers
  • The competition closes at midnight on Friday 15 August 2014 

A  panel of judges will select a shortlist of 12 (the "Finalists") which, in their opinion, best illustrate our award-winning locomotive. 
They will consider a range of factors including composition, technical ability, originality and the commercial appeal of the photographs. The public will be invited to vote for the Finalist they like the best. That winner will receive a prize of 2 tickets for a 76084-hauled Diner Special. 

The Finalists will appear in the 76084 Calendar 2015, to be sold in aid of the Company’s ‘Go Mainline’ Appeal and the Finalists may also be published in the 76084 NEWS

The full terms and conditions for this competition can be downloaded from our website 

Whilst the prize is not substantial we hope that enthusiasts will be proud to see their work in our 2015 Calendar.

Tuesday 1 July 2014

76084 has a Speedo

76084 has been undergoing her annual examination at Weybourne and should now be in the Paintshop having some finishing touches before release back into traffic.

Whilst in the Workshop members of the 76084 Service Crew took the time to fit a speedometer to the wheels as in the top photo and the necessary gauge (clean one on the left) in the cab.

Yes, 76084 entered traffic last year without a speedo so it has until now been down to the experience of the driver to travel at no more than 25 mph on heritage railways. It has just dawned on me that the cab gauge is just above the Driver's position in the cab. Where else would it be??

Another interesting modification was performed - changing a cab plain window glass to laminate glass (as in car windscreens) in line with Network Rail's mainline requirements

Well done, Mel & Mal Rutter, Dave Husband and John Oldcorn. A great week's work. 

Wednesday 18 June 2014

Giving pleasure to many thousands

It is just over a year since we steamed  76084 at Hepscott then later saw it travel down the A1 on a road transporter. it is coming up to 11 months since it first entered service on the North Norfolk Railway. In that time it has already given pleasure to many people.

Recently the NNR revealed that it carried 157,800 passengers last year. 76084 must have hauled a fair number of them. It ran for part of the summer holidays, in the autumn gala and the Santa Specials plus ordinary trains in between. Usually 76084 was pulling four trains a day. It was in service on 65 days. That must take it passenger total clearly into tens of thousands. Most passengers do look at the locomotive on their train. So, many families, holidaymakers, couples, coach parties and enthusiasts could see that it was 76084 giving them a pleasant ride.

This year 76084 steamed on 12 days at the East Lancs Railway. My visits showed it was largely the general public travelling plus a fair number of enthusiasts. Add several more thousands to the numbers hauled by 76084.

I bumped into a NNR volunteer at another line recently. He said 76084 had steamed for 48 days so far this year at the NNR. I notice that it has been the rostered steam locomotive all this week on the yellow timetable with four round trips a day. Add thousands more passengers to the total, probably into five figures again.

For the general public 76084 is a "proper" engine, that is it's a locomotive and tender. Its proportions look good. It may not be green, red or blue but it does look smart in its lined BR black livery with early emblem on the tender. It steams well too as any ride behind it or youtube video shows.

Our locomotive has been enjoyed by holidaymakers and residents of East Anglia, people living in the North West and in October anyone in central England will have the chance to enjoy a ride behind 76084.

When we spent years restoring 76084 we knew we'd be delighted when it steamed and that it would be an ideal heritage line locomotive. But I wondered if we realised how many thousands would travel behind it -I certainly didn't. We are well into tens of thousands and haven't even completed a year in service. Meanwhile 76084 continues to please its passengers...

Friday 13 June 2014

76084 Shed Allocations

I'm really passionate about steam locomotive Motive Power Depot books and am always looking for possible additions to my library. And of course there is always the hope that I might find some new fact about 76084 that has gone unreported elsewhere.

Imagine my disappointment recently when I picked up a book hardbacked to boot all about Standard Locomotives Shed Allocations which listed 76084's first depot as Skipton. This immediately put doubt in my mind that I had got it wrong on the website. (see 76084's BR Service page). You'll notice that 76084 on our listing went to Lancaster Green Ayre before Skipton anyway. 

So how could I verify we have the right facts?

There is a brilliant resource on the internet that I will always recommend to anyone doing research on British steam locomotives. It is the 'Complete BR Locomotive Database 1948-1997'. And what does it say for our beloved 76084?

The complete information held for 76084 is here which is identical to our own website - PHEW! 76084 did go to Lower Darwen when new in April 1957. But YOU knew that didn't you?

Tuesday 10 June 2014

Now for OTMR

Thanks to the generosity of a few 76084 shareholders we have achieved enough funding to fit Train Protection and Warning System (TPWS) equipment on our locomotive. But the 'Go Mainline' Appeal doesn't stop there.

TPWS can be thought of as 'mainline light' and is the only technology needed for instance for the North Yorkshire Moors Railway to run into Whitby on Network Rail track. To go FULL mainline we need On Train Monitoring & Recording (OTMR)  and Global System for Mobile Communications-Railway (GSM-R) equipment.

So the 76084 Locomotive Company Limited have launched phase 2 of their 'Go Mainline' Appeal to raise funds for OTMR. The parts sponsorship programme worked ever so well for TPWS and is being repeated for OTMR. You can see what parts are needed at The cost ranges from £100 to £500 and can be paid for over a period of time.

Picture shows Classmate and one time Shedmate 76079 on the Cambrian Coast. With a little help form our friends 76084 could be doing something like this.

Wednesday 4 June 2014

24D Shedplate

There are a number of Lower Darwen Motive Power Depot fans out there. Whenever a photograph comes up for sale on this subject I encounter competiton.

My wife is so tuned into the 24D/10H all consuming collecting thing that she spotted a 24D Shedplate at a flea market held at the Three Counties Showground last Bank Holiday Monday before I did. My jaw dropped which was observed by the stall holder who immediately informed me it was a replica and I could have it for £8 (marked up at £10).

This sum is 23 times less than what I paid for an original some 10 years ago. The original was on display in my porch which my wife likes to leave unlocked so that her QVC parcels can be delivered when she is out. So buying the replica was a no brainer and is now in my porch with the original safely tucked away indoors.

If you live anywhere near Great Malvern the stall which has lots of railwayana is
usually to be found in the undercover 'shed' part of the market.  And there were loads of whistles around the market too!

Tuesday 3 June 2014

True 4MT Sounds in a Model Loco

This could be happening fairly soon.

I didn't appreciate the fact that model locomotives with on-board sounds all use the same sounds. Anyone who has been anywhere near several steam locomotives will know that they often have distinctive sounds within a class of locomotives and when something is not quite right individual locomotives within a class will make their own unique sounds.

The strive for absolute realism when it comes to model steam locomotives is intensifying to the point where each locomotive will have a chip on-board containing its own bespoke sounds. 

For the BR Standard 4 2-6-0 our very own 76084 will very shortly be recorded so that digitally controlled models can not only look like the real thing but sound just like it too.

To achieve this level of realism the sound recordings have to be done away from the general public and microphones have to be strategically placed to get the true sounds. For instance, a microphone placed just in front of the steam dome will get the exhaust whilst microphones behind each cylinder will pick up the sounds of the motion amongst other things. Then there are the footplate sounds of coal being shoveled (and dropped). 

So not an easy task but imagine the end result. 76084 rests at the station then is given the right-of-way. The Regulator is opened with cylinder drain cocks opened too so she moves off in a cloud of pure white steam. The drain cocks close and the bark of the exhaust becomes the predominant sound. 

All this in my attic!! Can't wait!!

Thursday 8 May 2014

TPWS getting Nearer

Received a cheque sponsoring a Section of the TPWS Control Unit yesterday so complete funding for the Train Protection and Warning System is getting ever-closer.

The Board have given approval to start spending the ring-fenced monies initially on installing the cable runs and also on ordering long lead-time items.

As I right this post we have representatives at a railway heritage industry seminar on EMTRS and the new standards mainline locos have to adopt. So we are right up there with the other mainline loco operators - we are in the 'club' so to speak.

Thanks to all those 76084 shareholders who have helped fund TPWS technology. Your continued support is much appreciated.

Eric Bond

Tuesday 29 April 2014

New 76084 merchandise available

We have now got quite a range of 76084 branded items for you to purchase and we are working on increasing it in the weeks to come.

Whilst a fleece may not be necessary now that Spring is here and Summer is around the corner we have T-shirts and baseball caps that will show were your affiliations lie and hopefully that are with 76084.

We have also introduced pocket money items for younger supporters.

All our items may seem a little costly at first view but we price to include postage and packaging so there are no surprises at Checkout.

Have a look at what is on offer by clicking here>>

Eric Bond