The AC Locomotive Group

Class 85 Photo Gallery

Electrical Equipment: Associated Electrical Industries
Mechanical Construction: British Railways (Doncaster)
Built: 1961

85101 at Barrow Hill85101 at Barrow Hill

85101 nameplate

85006 represents the only one of the five early types to be constructed by British Railways itself, built at Doncaster Works. A successful design, the 85s survived in traffic until the early 1990s. 85006 was one of fourteen locos converted for freight-only use in the late 1980s, becoming 85101, and this was reflected in the colour scheme it carried from 2002 to 2013. Electrical and restoration work has started, and as the loco is virtually complete, it stands a good chance of running again.

As 85101 the locomotive was named "Doncaster Plant 150 1853 - 2003" at the Doncaster Works open days on 27th July 2003. The nameplates were removed immediately afterwards for safe keeping, and re-fitted on 30th April 2006. They were removed in 2012  while the for bodywork was prepared for repainting.

85101 at Barrow Hill85101 at Barrow Hill

Forty new AC electric locomotives were ordered from British Railways Doncaster Works, together with forty sets of electrical equipment from AEI. With AEI having already supplied equipment for the AL1s and AL2s it was not surprising that much of it was standard with these types (particularly AL1), making a semi-standard fleet of 65 or 75 locomotives. The first AL5 to enter traffic from British Railways' Doncaster works was E3057 in the first week of June 1961. E3056 (numerically the first) did not appear for another two and a half months. E3057 was also the 51st AC electric to be delivered, thus marking the half way point for the initial orders. Deliveries of AL5s were spread over the next three years, with the last, E3095, going into traffic in the last week of 1964, only six months ahead of the first AL6 (Class 86). Initially the class was allocated to the general AC Lines code, and thereafter to Longsight, followed, in 1973 by allocation to Crewe Electric Depot.

Not having been plagued by the problems of earlier types, the AL5s led a fairly uneventful early existence. They differed from the other types by the addition of rheostatic braking (as applied to AL3 E3100), but this fell out of use until the late seventies when it was reinstated. Following repainting into standard Rail Blue, the class operated on classic mixed-traffic turns until the late eighties and early nineties, earning itself the honour of being "Britain's most boring class" at one point! Despite regular turns on anglo-scottish Inter City services, none were ever officially named, although 85030 was bestowed with the unofficial name "Fell Runnner" for a short time - an apt name for a locomotive which spent many years hauling trains across the fells of northern England and southern Scotland.

In 1989, Railfreight Distribution identified the need for more AC electric traction, and with late delivery of Class 90s, the decision was made to convert ten Class 85s to dedicated freight locos. This entailed removal of their train heating, reducing their maximum speed, and reclassifying as Class 85/1. The first loco chosen, no. 85006, was renumbered 85101 in 1989, with the remainder of the class following over the next few months. The locos suffered the same problems in later life as did the Class 81s, and fires were commonplace. Four further Class 85/1s were converted to replace locomotives so damaged. By the end of August 1991, however, the end was in sight for even these locomotives. A farewell railtour The Roarer Requiem, with 85101 and 85105 providing the traction, had already been run, and with the new Class 90/1s entering traffic the remaining 85s were finally withdrawn. Four locos were assigned to empty carriage stock duties (85101 and 85040 at Euston, 85110 at Liverpool Lime Street and 85018 at Manchester Piccadilly - 85113 later joined the Euston locos) but these duties were surprisingly short-lived, as by December 85101 and 85113 had been withdrawn, and the class had become extinct.

Almost the entire class ended up in Crewe's electric graveyard, where they remained for well over twelve months before disposal began. In December 1992, Pete Waterman purchased 85104 (previously 85012 and E3067) for preservation. This loco was returned, however, when Mr Waterman discovered that much of the internal cabling in this and other withdrawn locos had been attacked and destroyed since purchase - allegedly carried out by persons intent on the class not being returned to service in place of faulty Class 90s. Mr Waterman was able to acquire 85101 in its place however, and completely intact - apparently the perpetrator of the crime was on holiday!

The rest of the Class journeyed in groups of three locomotives to MC Metals in Glasgow for scrapping.

85101 at Barrow Hill85101 at Barrow Hill

As E3061, 85101 entered traffic on 23 December 1961, allocated to AC Lines, the tenth AL5 to enter service. Originally painted "electric blue" with two pantographs, it was renumbered 85006 in 1974, gaining Rail Blue livery and losing a pantograph. The loco spent most of its working life on the varied duties offered by the West Coast Main Line, from heavy freights to InterCity passenger duties, although the latter became less frequent in later years.

It was chosen for conversion to the first of the dedicated freight sub-class 85/1, gaining its new number in 1989. In June 1991, 85101 hauled the outward leg of The Roarer Requiem farewell railtour from Manchester to Walton in Essex, and by August it had been downgraded to a 40 mph empty carriage (ECS) loco at Euston. Withdrawal came in November and the loco returned to Crewe under its own power before being shut down for the last time.

Bought by Pete Waterman in 1993, it was intended that 85101 would be returned to working order for use on Waterman Railways special trains, but events overtook plans and no work was done on the loco before it was put up for sale.

85101 at Barrow Hill85101 at Barrow Hill

Purchased in 1997 by the AC Locomotive Group, the loco remained at Crewe pending possible electrical tests, which unfortunately didn't happen. The loco moved by road to Barrow Hill on 3rd May 2000, and received bodywork repairs in early 2001. Group members began a cab rebuild, with much work completed by the end of the year.

85101 received a complete cosmetic overhaul in 2002, being repainted into Railfreight Distribution livery at Barrow Hill. Towards the end of the year, electrical equipment restoration began with a view to returning the loco to working order.

In mid 2003 the loco's braking system was recommissioned in preparation for its special guest appearance at the Doncaster Plant 150 Open Weekend in July at Doncaster Works, where it was officially named to mark the Works's 150th Anniversary. In 2005 it visited Crewe Works Open Days before returning to Barrow Hill where it is currently on display.

Electrical restoration re-started in 2010 and continued into 2011, reaching the point where most of the electrical control equipment has been proven to work. Mechanical restoration and cosmetic work is continuing. The locomotive was moved by road in August 2013 to Boden Rail at Washwood Heath near Birmingham where the bodywork received Rail Blue livery and the former number 85006.


Original Number E3061
BR TOPS Number 85006
Revised BR TOPS Number 85101
Network Rail TOPS Number 89561
Number Carried 85006
Current Livery Rail Blue


Type / Class AL5 / 85
Original BR 1957 Number Series E3056-E3095
BR TOPS Original Number Series 85001-85040
BR TOPS Renumbered Series 85001-85040 (with gaps), 85101-85114
Introduced 1961-1964


Builder British Railways, Doncaster Works
Electrical Equipment Manufacturer Associated Electrical Industries
BR Doncaster Order Numbers E016,E017,E019


Weight In Working Order 80 tons
Length Over Buffers 56' 6"
Width 8' 8 3/4"
Height Over Body 12' 4 1/4"
Height Over Pantograph (lowered) 13' 0 1/4"
Wheelbase 42' 3"
Bogie Wheelbase 10' 9"
Bogie Pivot Centres 31' 6"
Wheel Diameter 4'
Minimum Curve 6 chains


Maximum Speed 100 mph (80 mph for Class 85/1, 40 mph for Euston e.c.s. duties)
Horsepower (full field) 3200 hp
Horsepower (weak field) 3200 hp
Maximum Rail Horsepower 5100 hp at 45 mph
Maximum Tractive Effort 48000 lb
Continuous Tractive Effort 17000 lb at 71 mph
Brake Force 41 tons
Electric Train Heating Index 66


Transformer and Control Gear Oil cooled, Low Tension Tap Changing
Rectifier Type Germainum and Silicon semi-conductors air cooled
Germainum later replaced by Silicon rectifiers
Voltage Detection Equipment (never used) Capacitor divider
Bogie Type Fabricated steel, Alsthom suspension
Circuit Breaker Type Brown Boveri Air Blast Circuit Breaker
Traction Motor Type AEI (BTH) 189 6-pole (847 hp)
Traction Motor Drive Alsthom Quill
Gear Ratios 29/76
Pantograph Type 2 x Stone-Faiveley (one later removed)
Locomotive Brake Type Air and Rheostatic
Train Brake Type Vacuum, later Vacuum and Air

1st E No. (1959)2nd E No. (1960)1st TOPS No.2nd TOPS No.Depart-mental No.Network Rail '89' No.Last No.BuilderIntroStatusNotesNames1965 Proposed Names
E3056 85001 85001AEI / BR DoncasterAug-61Scrapped 1989: MC Metals GlasgowEnsign
E3057 85002 85002AEI / BR DoncasterJun-61Scrapped 1992: MC Metals GlasgowEmissary
E3058 8500385113 85113AEI / BR DoncasterJun-61Scrapped 1992: MC Metals GlasgowEscort
E3059 8500485111 85111AEI / BR DoncasterJul-61Scrapped 1992: MC Metals Glasgow
E3060 85005 85005AEI / BR DoncasterJul-61Scrapped 1993: MC Metals Glasgow
E3061 8500685101 8956185006AEI / BR DoncasterDec-61Preserved 1997: The AC Locomotive GroupOriginally preserved by Pete Waterman.Doncaster Plant 150 1853-2003 (2003; 2006-2012)
E3062 8500785112 85112AEI / BR DoncasterDec-61Scrapped 1992: MC Metals Glasgow
E3063 85008 85008AEI / BR DoncasterOct-61Scrapped 1993: MC Metals Glasgow
E3064 8500985102 85102AEI / BR DoncasterDec-61Scrapped 1992: MC Metals Glasgow
E3065 8501085103 85103AEI / BR DoncasterDec-61Scrapped 1992: MC Metals Glasgow
E3066 8501185114 85114AEI / BR DoncasterApr-62Scrapped 1993: MC Metals Glasgow
E3067 8501285104 85104AEI / BR DoncasterJan-62Scrapped 1992: MC Metals GlasgowBought by Pete Waterman for preservation, but sale cancelled due to poor condition - 85101 bought instead.
E3068 85013 85013AEI / BR DoncasterMay-62Scrapped 1993: MC Metals Glasgow
E3069 85014 85014AEI / BR DoncasterMay-62Scrapped 1992: MC Metals Glasgow
E3070 85015 85015AEI / BR DoncasterJul-62Scrapped 1992: MC Metals Glasgow
E3071 8501685105 85105AEI / BR DoncasterOct-62Scrapped 1992: MC Metals Glasgow
E3072 85017 85017AEI / BR DoncasterJul-62Scrapped 1993: MC Metals Glasgow
E3073 85018 85018AEI / BR DoncasterDec-62Scrapped 1992: MC Metals Glasgow
E3074 85019 85019AEI / BR DoncasterDec-62Scrapped 1990: Vic Berry Leicester
E3075 85020 85020AEI / BR DoncasterJan-63Scrapped 1990: MC Metals GlasgowWarrington Arpley Yard Crash (1989)
E3076 8502185106 85106AEI / BR DoncasterApr-63Scrapped 1992: MC Metals GlasgowEmerald
E3077 85022 85022AEI / BR DoncasterMar-63Scrapped 1993: MC Metals GlasgowEmperor
E3078 85023 85023AEI / BR DoncasterMar-63Scrapped 1992: MC Metals GlasgowEllesmere
E3079 8502485107 85107AEI / BR DoncasterSep-63Scrapped 1993: MC Metals Glasgow
E3080 85025 85025AEI / BR DoncasterMar-63Scrapped 1990: Vic Berry Leicester
E3081 85026 85026AEI / BR DoncasterJun-63Scrapped 1993: MC Metals Glasgow
E3082 85027 85027AEI / BR DoncasterJun-63Scrapped 1985: BREL Crewe
E3083 85028 85028AEI / BR DoncasterOct-63Scrapped 1994: MC Metals Glasgow
E3084 85029 85029AEI / BR DoncasterMay-64Scrapped 1993: MC Metals Glasgow
E3085 85030 85030AEI / BR DoncasterJul-64Scrapped 1992: MC Metals GlasgowCarried the unofficial name 'Fell Runner' from 1984-1987 on one side.Fell Runner (1984-1987)
E3086 85031 85031AEI / BR DoncasterFeb-62Scrapped 1992: MC Metals Glasgow
E3087 8503285108 85108AEI / BR DoncasterOct-62Scrapped 1992: MC Metals Glasgow
E3088 85033 85033AEI / BR DoncasterFeb-63Scrapped 1985: BREL Crewe
E3089 85034 85034AEI / BR DoncasterJun-63Scrapped 1992: MC Metals Glasgow
E3090 8503585109 85109AEI / BR DoncasterNov-63Scrapped 1992: MC Metals Glasgow
E3091 8503685110 85110AEI / BR DoncasterOct-63Scrapped 1992: MC Metals Glasgow
E3092 85037 85037AEI / BR DoncasterFeb-64Scrapped 1992: MC Metals Glasgow
E3093 85038 85038AEI / BR DoncasterNov-63Scrapped 1989: MC Metals Glasgow
E3094 85039 85039AEI / BR DoncasterFeb-64Scrapped 1993: MC Metals Glasgow
E3095 85040 85040AEI / BR DoncasterDec-64Scrapped 1992: MC Metals Glasgow