76084 – An Early Exploit

76084 shareholder Peter Eastham has had a long association with this product from Horwich Works. Peter had a gap in 76084’s history that a chance read (see later) managed to fill.
Very early in its career it was allocated to Lancaster and Skipton for a relatively short period before returning to Lower Darwen. Why was this? Were these depots short of motive power or were they trying out one of these new engines? Some of what 76084 got up to in this period was revealed by a chance sighting of an article in a back number of Back Track magazine left in the mess room at Oxenhope, KWVR.

A reliable source (BRdatabase.info) has 76084 allocated to Lancaster for 3 weeks in October 1958 and Skipton for 3 months after that returning to Lancaster in February 1959 before going home to Lower Darwen in March 1959. This information is reproduced on our site here.

In his article the author describes the numerous summer excursions from Keighley in the post-war 1950’s when few people owned cars, there was no EasyJet and excursions to Morecambe and other resorts by train were very popular. From Keighley these were almost invariably hauled by Midland 4F 0-6-0 locomotives with the sole class 5 locomotive used being Manningham (Bradford)’s solitary Crab 42762. On one particular Bank Holiday in 1957 (assumed here to be 10 June 1957 but could have been 5 August) the author, Vic Benson, reports a crowded platform 2 at Keighley which the Keighley News was later to report numbered over 600 would-be passengers. Train after train arrived ? all virtually full from previous stations, so that only about 50-100 further passengers could be accommodated on each as numbers on the platform continued to grow.

A local railway official who worked in headquarters Control took charge of the situation and attempted to keep everyone on the platform informed. Eventually he announced that the normal Morecambe stopping train which had left Leeds at around 8.30am had additional coaches attached and all would be well.

Well it wasn’t.

Soon, to Vic’s amazement a brand-new, very clean 76084 roared into the platform hauling ten corridor coaches instead of the usual five. Again the train was virtually full but Control man was not to be defeated. In consultation with the stationmaster the locomotive was detached and disappeared round the back of the station to collect the spare Worth Valley push-pull set comprising an LMS non-corridor third and a brake third from the sidings which are nowadays the station car park. After attaching these extra coaches, Vic and family scrambled on board, and as there were fifteen in his compartment, he had to stand for the journey. The train, now of twelve coaches, set off for Skipton, leaving around 200 passengers behind, to claim a refund or be transferred to a later Scarborough excursion.

More coaches added

However, on reaching Skipton, the situation was repeated with a crowded platform. Vic thought that staff had been pre-warned from Keighley as another two LMS non-corridor coaches were picked up from the sidings (possibly Barnoldswick branch coaches). The train was by now already delayed but as it was the stopping service, it had to stop twice and draw up at some of the intermediate stations with short platforms. He describes the loco roaring along with a more than full load of 14 carriages,( more suited to a Stanier Pacific than a class 4 engine), and despite the climb towards Giggleswick. Beyond Clapham with the gradient the other way there was a problem with some incompatability of the brakes and snatching in this ad-hoc rake of carriages and it failed to stop at Bentham ? so passengers for there were carried forward to Wennington.

Worse was yet to come at Lancaster (Green Ayre) station, which was situated in a dip with a climb out of 1 in 62 on a sharp check-railed curve. Again two stops were necessary because of the length of the train and the non-corridor coaches. The restart from the first stop was “spectacularly unsuccessful” and it moved only three coach lengths before becoming stuck. An official from the adjacent shed appeared waving his arms apparently to stop further attempts at forward movement to prevent damage to the track, so the whole train was reversed about half a mile. Without braking the loco was wound into forward gear and with a roar and slipping wheels passed back through the station at around 10 mph (and without the second stop). Almost grinding to a halt again, it just reached the end of the check-railed curve and regained adhesion.

Arrival at Morecambe took just under four hours for the 50 miles from Keighley.

Vic and family did not return on the same train but on a six-coach Jubilee-hauled semi fast so we do not know how the Worth Valley coaches eventually got back to Keighley. Perhaps one day 76084 will return to Keighley and again haul Worth Valley coaches, but will hopefully depart in the Oxenhope, not the Morecambe direction – and with a somewhat smaller load!
Reference: Back Track magazine Volume 26 Number 9 September 2012 “Early Recollections from West Yorkshire 1946-1957” W.V.Benson, page519 ? a recommended read.

Peter’s full article appeared in a late 2014 edition of the KWVR’s ‘Push and Pull’ members magazine.