Header Image
Front Cover of Book

Richard Thompson, who was involved in the restoration of 86259 at Tyseley, suggested the idea of a book to his friend, Andy Coward, a railway journalist.

The result is "Together in Electric Dreams"

- 125 pages of great photographs of 86259 'through the ages'.

- Its history from the beginning.

- The 'electrifying' story of the Class 86 right up to the present.

- The current operators of 86s.

- How it came into the life of a West Midlands broadcaster.

- The book (signed by me) is now in stock at the Ian Allan Bookshops in Birmingham City Centre, London, Manchester and Cardiff priced at £15.00.

- You will also be able to get a copy from me personally, at the Warley Model Railway Exhibition, being held as usual at the National Exhibition Centre at the end of November - I'll be on the Vintage Trains' stand. You might also bump into me on a train somwhere!

- Alternatively the (signed, if you wish) book is available, mail order, by sending a cheque for £17-50 (inc. post and packing) made payable to Peter Pan Locomotive Co Ltd of PO Box 6194, Warwick CV34 9PR.

P.S. Chris Tarrant has written the foreword - Yes, that Chris Tarrant!

Reviews below

Modern Locomotives Illustrated

Book review by Modern Locomotives Illustrated

Together in electric dreams

Author: Andrew Coward
Peter Pan Locomotive Ltd,
ISBN 978 1 62050 356 0
Softback, 128pp
296 x 210mm

This new publication by Peter Pan Locomotives Ltd is part biographical and part potted history of the Class 86 locomotives, particularly of No. 86259 and its current owner Les Ross. Tracing the locos history and how Les came to purchase this locomotive.
  Les Ross developed a keen interest in his childhood as so many of us did and a growing interest in the modern developments such as electrification in his native Birmingham, where later he was a well known and respected Radio Presenter for many years.
  Upon his retirement from the radio station BRMB his work colleagues arranged for Class 86/2 No. 86259 the original Peter Pan to be renamed Les Ross. After the locomotive was withdrawn by Virgin Trains from its West Coast operation, Les became instrumental in its purchase and eventual return to the main line operation under private ownership, and its repainting into 1960s electric blue livery.
  This book brings together a fascinating collection of images over the years of No. 86259 and traces the locos history from its delivered state as No. E3137 and later as TOPS No. 86045, through its BR days up to and including its demise under the Virgin banner.  The title is well produced with a good mix of colour and monochrome images.

Today's Railways UK

Book review by Today's Railways UK

Title: Together in Electric Dreams:
E3137/86259 Les Ross - an illustrated history.
By: Andrew Coward.
Pages: 124.
Size: 297 x 210mm hardback.
Details: 239 colour and 13 b/w illustrations, 2 maps.
Published by/Available from: Peter Pan Locomotive Co Ltd,
P O Box 6194, Warwick CV34 9PR.
Price: £15.00 plus £2.50 postage & packing (UK).

Having had a Class 86 loco named after him as a retirement present, former Birmingham radio presenter Les Ross now finds himself enjoying an active retirement by ensuring that 86259 "Les Ross" also enjoys an active retirement. The rarity of preserved electric locos running on the main line is a measure of his achievement, the mechanics of which are well recounted in this volume.
  The origins of the Class 86s, the early history of the loco as E3137 and its days as "Peter Pan" and "Greater Manchester The Life and Soul of Britain" (clearly whoever was responsible for the adoption of succinct names had retired by 1995) occupy the first half of the book, together with a short biography of Les Ross himself. Long years on London Midland services, with an interlude on the Great Eastern in the 1980s, were followed by withdrawal from Virgin Trains in 2002 and storage at Immingham. The loco is illustrated in all the liveries it has carried - the original and later versions of BR Blue, InterCity, Virgin, and finally back in the original BR Blue, with only small details such as the now mandatory additional headlight preventing the present day shots of the loco on charter trains from being perfect 1960s re-enactments.


Heritage Railway

Les Ross: Together in electric dreams
By Andrew Coward (softback, Peter Pan Locomotive Ltd, 128pp, £15, ISBN 978 1 62050 356 0).

IF YOU think Tyseley Locomotive Works is all about running classic GWR and LMS steam engines on the main line, think again.
  Birmingham radio DJ Les Ross holds the unique position of not only having a main line locomotive named after him, but also of being able to buy it after it was withdrawn from traffic, restore it and run it on railtours again.
  Electric preservation is always a difficult business with severely limited scope by the nature of the beast, and so the sterling efforts made by Ross with Class 86 electric No. 86259, which has been restored to Sixties BR electric blue, is a major contribution to the heritage sector.

Today's Railways UK by Heritage Railway

This magazine-type book, which has a foreword by Who Wants To Be A Millionaire presenter Chris Tarrant, provides a detailed photographic biography of No. 86259, from its early days in service through privatisation, sale and restoration at Tyseley.
  If West Coast electrics float your boat, you will find the superbly reproduced pictures stunning. The book, incidentally, was published by the locomotive owning group on behalf of Ross, who is now an MBE.



Issue 131 Winter 2013

"Together in Electric Dreams" by Andrew Coward Published by Peter Pan Locomotive Ltd for and on behalf of Les Ross MBE. First published 2012. ISBN Number: 978-1-62050-356-0. Cover Price £15, paperback A4 size. Signed copies are offered to Stanier 8F Society members at a reduced price of £14 including post and packing by cheque made out to 'Peter Pan Locomotive Ltd' at PO Box 6194, Warwick, CV34 9PR [don't forget to include your name and address!] quoting 'Black Eight'.

Just once in a while a book arrives which is something out of the ordinary. A few years back a well-known publisher produced a series of 'Great Preserved Locomotives' which concentrated on a single locomotive, and this book is along those lines, but with a number of added dimensions and a plethora of top quality photographs. Described as an 'illustrated history' and 'The story of one man and the preservation of 'his' locomotive'.

The book charts the history of a 25kv electric locomotive of the AL6 class as those of us steeped in the 1960s would call it, later enthusiasts would refer to it as a Class 86! The locomotive concerned is No E3137 which became No 86049 and later No 86259 under the TOPS renumbering scheme of the 1970s. It was built at Doncaster Works [and your reviewer can recall a visit there and seeing it under construction in late 1965] and it entered traffic in January 1966 on the West Coast Main Line [WMCL]. In May 1975 it became a member of the 86/2 sub class, having received modifications, and was set to work on WCML express passenger trains. In 1979 it received the name "Peter Pan" which it carried until October 1995 when it was renamed "Greater Manchester the life and soul of Britain" until April 2002. After a few months un-named it received its third name "Les Ross" in September 2002. 86259 was withdrawn from Virgin Trains service in September 2003 and in 2006 it was sold to the man after whom it had been named in 2002, Les Ross MBE, a local personality and well-loved presenter on local radio stations.

This book is so much more than a historical record of the life of a locomotive. Intertwined with the story are insights into the AL6 class as a whole, with a wealth of technical data and information for those so minded, but what makes this book so unique is the involvement of Les Ross, and the anecdotal material which

enlivens the text. Of particular interest is the reaction to the naming - with some questioning who exactly is Les Ross? The book is surely a 'must read' for anyone contemplating the rocky road which has to be followed by anyone concerned with locomotive preservation. To see 86259 at work on the main line today is a pleasure, but behind the success is a story of hard negotiation and no small capital outlay. As he says in the book ..."the last few years has certainly taught me how serious the whole process of running a locomotive on the UK main line is".

Much of the character of Les Ross himself shines through this book, as a railway enthusiast who is not afraid to celebrate his interest loud and long, as an unlikely loco owner [but one who wants to see it done properly and well] and as a perdon who gives up most summer Sundays to check tickets [and talk railways] on the 'Shakespeare Express' timetabled steam service! A true enthusiast.

The illustrations in this book are of interest by themselves. As is to be expected shots of 86259 predominate, and it is interesting to note the subtle changes in the locomotive over the years. Other Class 86s are not excluded, however, and the book ends with a useful synopsis of the status of those still extant.

This is a most interesting book, and one which your reviewer was moved to read 'at one sitting'. The text is highly readable and the picture captions detailed and informative. It is also an enjoyable read as well as a good source of reference. There are 127 pages in perfect bound A4 format with mainly colour illustrations. Recommended.

Robert Newman