1A76 remembered

The Trains we did, 1A76 – 1730 Birmingham-Euston

The headcoce 1A76 applied to many classic trains over the years, but locally, a few of us will remember the 5 Mk I’s and the 81/85/86 up front version. 1A76 was unusual in several ways. 

1/ essentially a unit turn calling at unit shacks like Long Buckby, Berko and Hemel en route. 

2/ Retained 75mph class 310 timings so was nearly always right time. 

3/ Ran Mon-Fris and for 2 years only, May 83-May 85 

4/ Despite being load 5 and vacuum braked, it was by no means a “solid roarer” train. 

5/ Loco hauled stock was booked as train used by Rail House staff that were relocated from Euston to Birmingham and the comfort of Mk I stock, rather than a 310, would help placate those who lived on the Northampton-Hemel corridor.

Early days 

It was reported that the stock (load 5 or sometimes 6 Mk I’s vb-dh) was a half rake from a split “Oxley Adex rake”. The power was the Oxley “spare loco” being normally diagrammed for 1A76 which may explain the high number of  “cans” that featured on 1A76. The inaugural hauled A76 featured 5 Mk IIa’s and 81020, vacuum braked Mk 1’s and more variable 81-86 AC power then became the norm.

Power variations

To be honest, this was a solidly reliable train that suffered few variations from the norm. Stock problems saw a 310 substituted around twice a month. On 180485 86255 failed on 1A76 in the Berkswell area and received an unbraked rescue push from a following 87. The ever-reliable 85036 worked the train forward from Coventry.

Pretty outrageous, but not power to suit everyone’s tastes, 31263 was kicked out on 1A76 throughout on 131083. It is not known if the train was steam heated on this run but 310 timings were just about held

A “can” approaching on A76 usually got derision, on 030585 this changed to nods of approval, with a unique appearance on this train by 86009.

86318 approaches Linslade Tunnel with 1A76 on April 22nd 1985

“Solid roarer?”

Despite claims elsewhere, A76 wasn’t a “solid roarer”. A76 from 111183-110584 “roared” just a couple of times in 6 months, class 86 dominating. Only in it’s final few months could it be relied upon to “roar” but never quite solidly, this unpredictablity was all part of the WCML “fun” at the time. 

The Moves

Once out of the West Midlands “day tripper” zone 1A76 had few bashers. At Northampton bashers off the first 2 evening “cobblers” could use A76 to return South. In theory A76 made a “dead” at M.Keynes onto 1B09, the last evening cobbler but B09 was usually a few minutes down. So it was a rapid leap off A76 , up the stairs then the fight against the commuters off B09 on the second steps of stairs to make B09! Again all part of the WCML fun at the time…

“Nightrider” tickets allowed very cheap Evening returns to London and a good few of us used these tickets for “mileage moves” to Euston. In those days you could buy a piece on the train without penalty fares being imposed. So few risked buying a Nightrider in advance as the risk of 86254 or whatever producing on A76 was far too high!

 The stock

I’m afraid none of us ever bothered to log the stock except perhaps Peter Hedderley who a few years back advised he had travelled on M16232 (former M7232) at the Gwilli Railway, a former A76 regular he advises.

The only recorded 1A76 full stock consist to date was from 86009 on May 3rd 1985 with the following consist..

35318 (BCK), 7228(CK), 4948(TSO), 4855(TSO) and 4931(TSO).

Steve Chapman catches 85028 and Wolverton built 35318 BCK on 1A76 on May 9th 1985, the penultimate turn. The surviving “real” Wolverton station buildings adding to the scene

The last turns

The last week (a Bank Holiday week) saw just 4 turns and there were rumours of a “big fix”. No “big fix” could be made, as the loco’s next diagram was an AC “speedlink” long distance turn. A76 roared for all 4 days and 85011 had the honour of working the very last turn.  A small group of bashers were out to “celebrate” this last turn on Friday May 10th

85028 arrives at Leighton with the penultimate 1A76 on May 9th 1985

85011 arrives at the Keynes with the final local hauled 1A76 on May 10th 1985

Its all over, 85011 at the blocks at Euston with 1A76 the final 1730 Birmingham – Euston May 10th 1985

The Gen – based on “log’s readers fairly comprehensive observations)

Class                            May 83-May 84                      May 84-May 85

81                                     20 wkgs                                 29 wkgs

85                                     29 wkgs                                 49 wkgs

86                                  the remainder                      the remainder

Recorded “roarer” appearances on 1A76…

81001-2                                   81012-1

81002-2                                   81013-1

81003-4                                   81014-1

81005-3                                   81017-3

81006-1                                   81018-5

81007-1                                   81019-5

81008-1                                   81020-4

81009-3                                   81021-4

81011-2                                   81022-3

85001-1                                   85019-4

85002-3                                   85020-2

85003-2                                   85021-3

85004-4                                   85022-3

85005-2                                   85024-4

85006-1                                   85025-2

85007-1                                   85026-2

85008-1                                   85028-3

85010-1                                   85030-1

85011-2                                   85031-2

85012-1                                   85032-2

85014-4                                   85034-3

85015-2                                   85036-2

85016-5                                   85037-3

85017-2                                   85038-4

85018-1                                   85039-2


Any more 1A76 memories out there?

Thanks to Neil Evans, Peter Hedderley, Dave Jackson, Steve Chapman and others for their help with this article


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