Hornby’s ‘OO’ gauge Class 87 model is now available in the shops, including an original BR blue version of the 1970 and early 1980s, writes Nigel Burkin.
Introduced in 1973 for the completion of the last stage of West Coast Main Line electrification linking Weaver Junction with the greater Glasgow area suburban network, the Class 87 became the main traction for long-distance workings from London Euston, particularly after formation of the InterCity sector. Mk.2f air-conditioned locomotive-hauled coaches were coming on stream, and the longer Mk.3a was not far behind, modernising trains used on Anglo-Scottish passenger services.
A total of 36 5000hp Class 87s were built at BREL Crewe Works as a development of the successful Class 86 (AL6) with electrical equipment manufactured by GEC. One locomotive was delivered as a test locomotive with ‘Thyristor’ control instead of tap changer control and rectifiers. It was classified as Class 87/1 and numbered 87 101 to identify it from the remainder of the fleet.
They were powerful mixed-traffic locomotives designed to cope with the steep gradients on the northern section of the WCML. Multiple working equipment was provided, and although Class 87s spent most of their time working daytime expresses, they also found employment working in pairs on heavy night-time freight together with Anglo-Scottish night trains such as sleeper services, until sectorisation saw them dedicated to InterCity services.
The Class 87s soon became popular with enthusiasts, particularly after naming began in 1976. No. 87 001 was the first to receive nameplates, to commemorate George Stephenson and coinciding with the 150th anniversary of the opening of the Stockton & Darlington Railway. The plates were simply lettered Stephenson, but were the start of a scheme to name all Class 87 locomotives.
Eventually, No. 87 001 was renamed Royal Scot given that the Class 87 had become the 25Kv AC version of that famous class. The Stephenson nameplates were transferred to No. 87101, where they remained until the locomotive was withdrawn from service.
For the full article and to view more images, see the January 2019 edition of Modelling – available now!
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