The last “Cobbler, 86401’s big day, May 11th 1990
It had been rumoured enough times but Friday May 11th 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 us 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 310’1 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 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 rthe moves gen below we had an enjoyable “storm” on former BY 310’s in their latest new haunt. Helped by our 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
Back at Euston the final 1722 Euston – Bletchley was flagged with 86233 up front. 85011 was on the line opposte platform 15 but my colleagues attempts to convince the local traction arranger that “85011 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 showing 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 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 85011 was on the 1903 Manchester.
At the Keynes it was farewell to NSE loco, stock and the Cobblers as we awaited the 1903. Our Wolverton colleague went one better, doing 86401 to his home shack before returning on a unit and with gen that a “big siphon” was out on the Marches.
Hurried bible consultation saw a move worked out where we could get home, albeit late. 85011 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. 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 they proved a pale substitute for a roarer screaming along on a rake of NSE liveried Mk 1’s
The moves ..
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-Cambridge LS-BS
310064} 1620 Bishops Stortford-Liverpool St BS-LS
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
321401 0015 Birmingham-Euston NS-LB