The AC Locomotive Group

84001's restoration84001's restoration

Doncaster 150Doncaster 150

'First Born' Gala'First Born' Gala

Two major restoration projects started gaining momentum in early 2003, with the electrical restoration of 85101 proceeding apace, and all other hands continuing with the cosmetic renovation of the NRM's Class 84, 84001. The latter project proved to be the most in-depth cosmetic work performed up to that point: due to a reaction between the original primer and subsequent paint layers, much of the original paintwork had to be removed down to almost bare metal, and numerous patches of new skin and fairing panels were made.

The efforts on both locomotives were given an added impetus when we were invited to exhibit both at the Doncaster 150 celebrations in July, as examples of locomotives built or refurbished at Doncaster. Joining them would be our Class 83, E3035, thus quite a lot of effort was expended getting the three machines into top condition for display (the other big event of the year was an open day at Crewe Works, but despite offering locomotives for show, none of our fleet were requested - surprising given the long association of Crewe with the AC electrics!).

All three locos were completed in time for the rail move to Doncaster, and were exhibited alongside a huge variety of other AC and DC electric traction for the weekend - one of the finest line-ups of traction seen at an open day for some time. During the event, 85101 was named "Doncaster Plant 150, 1853-2003", becoming the first class 85 to be 'officially' named and the first to carry cast nameplates.

Changes in our requirements at Barrow Hill meant that we lost the Generator Car to free up some room and reduce our rental payments at Barrow Hill, and it went on loan to a heritage railway. Outside the group, 87001 was repainted into BR Blue and reunited with its "STEPHENSON" nameplates for the Crewe event, meanwhile a Class 308 car was purchased for preservation by another group.

Good news and bad news followed Doncaster for 84001 - the NRM agreed to extend their loan of the loco to us for a further five years - but further problems arose with the paintwork, once again stemming from the original primer, leading to some of the new paintwork cracking and requiring one whole side to be stripped off again.

Barrow Hill's October "First Born" gala rounded the year off in fine style, with all six locos on display and 86213's cab opened up to the public, proving to be a star attraction!