The building of E3137 was begun in August 1965 in the pre-fabrication shop at the British Railways ("B.R.") Doncaster works. It was one of the 40 Class A6 (to become Class 86) locomotives built there. The other 60 were built at the Vulcan foundry, Newton-le-Willows. On completion, the future 86259 was sent to Crewe for acceptance tests and then allocated to the AC Lines pool on January 15th 1966, being stabled at the brand new electric depot at Willesden, in North London. Its official Willesdon allocation came in May 1973. In those early years, E3137's main duties were to be hauling trains from Euston to Manchester and Liverpool.
It was one of several A6s, remaining unmodified, to be renumbered into the 86/0 series and became 86045 on January 9th 1974. The 86/0 fleet was intended for freight work but 86045 was certainly seen on occasional passenger duties. In fact, after just 16 months (on May 21st 1975) 86045 was re-numbered 86259, joining other 86/2s in the main passenger fleet. They received modifications, including flexicoil suspension, resilient SAB wheels and raised gear ratios. By now, the loco had lost its original electric blue paintwork and was turned out in B.R.'s Standard Blue.
Just after a light overhaul in early October 1979, 86259 received the name "Peter Pan" in a ceremony at Euston Station on October 23rd. A general overhaul followed in May 1982 and another light overhaul in May 1984.
After 19 years on the West Coast Main Line, 86259 was one of the first 86/2s to move across to the Great Eastern for use on passenger duties out of London Liverpool Street following electrification of the route between Colchester and Ipswich. "Peter Pan" was out-stationed at Ilford (although maintenance continued at Willesden) and, on a test run on April 11th 1985, 86259 became the first AC loco to reach Ipswich. A few months later, in September, it returned to Willesden and a year later, after an intermediate overhaul, received the first version of its InterCity livery.
In April 1987, the loco was once again allocated to Ilford for working services from Liverpool Street right through to the now-electrified Norwich. Then, for the next three years, 86259 moved between Ilford and Willesden four times, during which period it received a newer version of Inter City livery at Ilford in November 1988.
The loco received a light overhaul in February 1989 and an intermediate overhaul in December 1991, by which time it had been transferred to Manchester Longsight depot, being employed on cross-country duties. It was regularly seen at Birmingham New Street taking over from, or handing over to, Class 47 diesels on the North-South services. During 1991 the loco had also had its double arrow logo replaced by "Intercity" branding.
The link with Manchester became stronger when, in October 1995, the "Peter Pan" nameplates were removed and 86259 became "Greater Manchester - The Life and Soul of Britain". The depot link with Manchester ended in April 1998 when the loco left Longsight and returned to Willesden, becoming one of the final few 86s hauling West Coast Main Line trains.
Just over a year later, in May 1999, four years after privatisation and now operated by Virgin, 86259 received a light overhaul and was turned out in Virgin livery. It lost its "Greater Manchester" plates in February 2002 and, later that year on September 27th, gained the name "Les Ross".
86259 was one of the last three Class 86 locos to operate Virgin West Coast services. It failed in traffic on September 15th 2003, just a week before it was officially due to be retired, and went into store at Willesden. On November 6th it was moved to Immingham to join many other AC locos stored there but after 16 months 86259 'escaped' (!) and was moved by road to Tyseley Loco Works, in Birmingham.
In 2006, 86259 was purchased from HSBC by Les Ross. Over the next 18 months the loco was restored at Tyseley, re-painted into electric blue and, after a main line test run from Oxley to Crewe and Nuneaton in February 2008, it hauled its first train in preservation on March 1st 2008. Several more tours followed.
On May 10th 2011, 86259 returned to Willesden where it is now stabled. On arrival, it underwent a D-exam and some overhaul and on August 25th hauled Steam Dreams 'Cathedral Express' from London Euston to Preston. In 2012, the loco, having received a re-paint in electric blue, has been a popular performer on the West Coast Main Line, hauling seven 'Cumbrian Mountain Express' trains for The Railway Touring Company between February and June.
In April/May 2012 the new communication system, GSM-R, was fitted to the loco at Carnforth in order that 86259 would comply with new Network Rail requirements from 1st January 2013. (See relevant page elsewhere on this site which deals specifically with this.)
|86259 Les Ross (E3137 / 86045) Datasheet|
|Class||86 - Originally AL6|
|Built||Aug - Dec 1965|
|Entered Service||Jan 1966|
|Built by||British Railways at Doncaster|
|System||25 kV a.c. overhead|
|Traction Equipment||Supplied by English Electric and AEI|
|Traction Motors||AEI 282BZ axle-hung|
|Tractive Effort||60,000 lbs|
|Wheels||3' 9" diameter Bo-Bo|