The last Cobbler, May 11th 1990

The last “Cobbler”, 86401’s big day, May 11th 1990

It had been rumoured enough times but Friday May 11th 1990 was confirmed as the last day of the “Cobblers”, trains we had bashed since 1982. Journeying North on the 0624 we bailed off the 321 at Bletchley. This allowed us to confirm the quoted 86233 was on the final Bletchley “Cobbler” and allow us to rake in 3 miles on the infamous 0714 Bletchley – Stoke class 310’1 operated train

The big yellow TV platform monitor screen at the Keynes read as below…., a nice touch by Bletchley PSB.

“To mark the end of the Northampton Cobbler era we have arranged for the 0758 train to Euston to be hauled by locomotive number 86401 named Northampton Town”    

86401 duly arrived and whisked us, plus more silent commuters South at good haste. At Euston both “Cobbler” rakes stood alongside each other on platform 5 and 6 for the last time. A fill in move saw the 4 of us heading East for unfamiliar Fenchurch St. As per the moves gen below we had an enjoyable “storm” on former BY 310’s in their latest new haunts. Helped by gen from Bletchley PSB’s finest we raked in a 12 car set (half the fleet) plus a few more 310’s out of Liverpool St too.

Back at Euston the final 1722 Euston – Bletchley was flagged with 86233 up front. 85003 was on the engine line opposite platform 15 but my colleagues attempts to convince the local traction arranger that “85003 was much better than 86233 on 1N51” and “nobody would notice anyway” was met with a “sorry but no”..The “Cobblers” were renown for the Crewe allocated 86’2 to be locally swapped for an 81-85 with TOPS not reflecting the change so the quoted 86257 was often 85028, withered a fair few this did!.

So after a beer, we walked down platform 16 at Euston and were a bit disappointed seeing an Inter city liveried “can” at the head of the final 1814 Euston-Northampton “Cobbler”.  The first coach had balloons and streamers up at one end plus a large bottle of champagne being passed round!.There was also a party atmosphere, all very unusual on a commuter train!

Just before departure time, an announced “loco being the wrong colour problem!!” saw 86406 uncoupled and 86401 appeared from nowhere to work the very last Cobbler North. A few “neds” we’d never seen on the trains before hogged the very front door windows, but it was nice that a small group of local regular “Cobbler” bashers were seated round a few tables in the quieter end of the front coach. On passing the downside shed it was now obvious that, as allocated, 85003, was on the 1903 Manchester.

At the Keynes it was farewell to NSE loco, stock and the Cobblers as we awaited the 1903 Manchester. Our Wolverton colleague went one better, doing 86401 to his home shack before returning on a unit and with gen that a “big syphon” was out on the Marches. Hurried bible consultation saw a move worked out where we could get home, albeit late. 85003 screamed down the Trent like only a roarer did, then a short wait saw 37221 with considerably more bashers than we’d seen all day, aboard it from Crewe. From Shrewsbury it was units home including the legendary 0015 Birmingham-Euston.

So there it is, another bit of our local railway finished, although the “Cobblers” have returned in various guises more recently, they proved a pale substitute for a “roarer” screaming along on a rake of NSE liveried Mk 1’s. 

The moves ..

11/5/90 Fr

321442  0526 Euston-Wolverhampton                                                     LB-BY

86233    0746 Bletchley-Euston (last)

310108  0714 Bletchley-Stoke                                                                  BY-MK

86401    0737 Northampton-Euston  (last)                                               MK-EU


310092}     1000 Fenchurch St-Shoeburyness                                         FS-SH


310088  1126 Shoeburyness-Fenchurch St                                              SH-PI

302206  1150 Southend-Fenchurch St                                                     PI-FS

310077}   1532 Liverpool St-Bishops Stortford                                      LS-BS


310064}  1620 Bishops Stortford-Liverpool St                                      BS-FS


86233    1722 Euston-Bletchley (last)

86401    1814 Euston-Northampton (last)..86406 repl!                           EU-MK

85003    1903 Euston-Manchester                                                           MK-CR

37221    2010 Manchester-Cardiff                                                           CR-SH

150167  2230 Shrewsbury-Birmingham                                                  SH-NS

                                                                           12/5/90 Sa

321401   0015 Birmingham-Euston                                                         NS-LB

Last Cobbler phot spot..

86401 arrives at the Keynes with the final hauled 0737 Northampton-Euston”Cobbler”, 110590

A bemused shunter looks on as the 2 cobbler rakes await forwarding power to Camden DCS for the last time

After 86406 was removed due to a “loco colour problem” 86401 is ready to work the last “Cobbler” North

And its goodbye to the Cobblers, 86401 heads off into the sunset


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