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David Maidment O.B.E. is the founder of the "Railway Children" charity which helps street children and 'runaways' all over the world.

He spent his working life on the railways, starting in 1961 as a traffic apprentice on the Western Region and then, over the years, becoming station master at Gillingham in Dorset. Thereafter, amongst other positions, he became Management Services Manager for the Western Region, Chief Operating Manager of the London Midland Region and the Head of Safety Policy for British Railways Board and thereafter into privatisation with Rail Track.

As you can see here, over the years he has had his encounters with 86259. He has specific recollections of over 30 journeys behind (and occasionally in the cab of) "Peter Pan".

Peter Pan

By David Maidment

In November 1982, much to my surprise, I found I’d been appointed as Chief Operating Manager of the London Midland Region, based at that hallowed place, Crewe. I’d gone my whole career – 22 years at that time – without setting foot on the LMR in working time and 11 years outside the Operations function, so to say I was surprised is perhaps an understatement. And a Western man at Crewe – that was considered sacrilege by many, although I did hint that they hadn’t done so badly with Sir William Stanier. After a couple of days swatting up track circuit block signalling and finding where my Rulebook was kept, I ventured forth on day 1 to the General Manager’s Monday Conference – or the GM’s ‘prayers’ as it was known.

The Region’s management was dispersed – Operations in Crewe, Mechanical Engineering at Derby and General Management at Euston, so the GM’s regular meetings were compulsory for all of his team. I therefore travelled up from Crewe to Euston House in the morning trying to make sense of the wadge of papers thrust into my hand as I left the office – not only the agenda and various papers to read, but the closely typed 20 pages of train punctuality performance of the previous week in all its glory – leaving me to analyse and make sense of it on the train journey, before I got shot down in flames by the engineers who, I was told, would gang up to blame the Operator for everything if they could get away with it.

After this first meeting I returned to Crewe on the 18.05 Euston – Preston and Blackpool, and feeling obliged to take an interest in my new empire, noted 1965 built a/c electric locomotive, 86.259 Peter Pan at the head end (named apparently to celebrate the UN ‘Year of the Child’ a couple of years previously). We got only as far as Wembley before we came to a halt and an ominous silence reigned. Eventually after a delay of 70 minutes (70 minutes (!) and we were all of a mile distant from Willesden traction depot) 87.028 Lord President appeared, coupled on ahead of the failed locomotive and we continued north. Leaving Rugby, we suddenly ground to a halt again and it transpired that 87.028 had now expired, and worse, had experienced brake problems that proved impossible to release.

Time ticked by and I was furiously trying to think of what to do to avoid total disgrace on my first day in office. Eventually we were dragged back into Rugby by an 86/3 (another less than popular variant of this class of electrics because of its rough riding), leaving the two disabled electrics on the Down Main just beyond the Birmingham line flyover. The new loco ran round and eventually got us to Crewe just before midnight, some four hours late. Enthusiastic in my new duties, I offered help to the guard and went through the front half of the train explaining what had happened and offering to take messages – it was before the days of mobile phones. By the time I alighted at Crewe I had 58 messages to pass on from the Crewe booking office phone – the front coach was full of French children going for exchange visits to families all over Cumbria and two gentlemen implored me to advise their wives of the reason for their delay, as they would not otherwise be believed! It was nearly 2 o’clock in the morning before I remembered that I’d forgotten to ring my own wife and it was with some trepidation that I opened the door to my home – but found she was fast asleep without an apparent care in the world.

The next Monday evening I caught the 18.05 again and 86.259 was once more the loco – and it failed en route yet again. Crewe Control realised that this loco was my bête noir and started warning me (and my wife) when that loco was in danger of appearing on a train I was due to take. When, a couple of years later, the GE Anglia Section demanded four of our electric locos for crew training from Liverpool Street to Norwich, Crewe Control with some irony, selected 86.259 and 86.416 Wigan Pier and I gather one of them pulled the wires down in Liverpool Street station the first time the loco set foot in it.

I subsequently had a number of perfectly adequate runs behind 86.259, including cab rides as I made it my principle to ride with drivers as much as possible – they used to complain that they only saw management when they were ‘on the ‘carpet’.

Now in 2012, I see the occasional class 86 during my regular Pendolino trips to London on Railway Children or Amnesty business, usually on Pete Waterman’s Crewe LNWR depot. There are a few 86/6s used by the Freightliner business and a couple of preserved engines – 86 101 Sir William Stanier and 86 401 Northampton Town. But which is the one that regularly graces the charter trains from Birmingham or Euston to Crewe, before the steam loco takes over? Why, it’s Peter Pan of course, although it has since metamorphosed into Les Ross after the Birmingham DJ who now owns it, via some ridiculous interim name glorifying some celebration in Manchester, and I had the pleasure recently of supplying Les with the details of its nefarious past. But to me it’s still Peter Pan and I have the sort of rough affection for it that one feels for a naughty, but precocious child. But I can’t help wondering, when I’m tempted to embark on one of Tyseley’s railtours with one of Bob Meanley’s splendid ‘Castles’ or ‘Princess’ whether first of all I shan’t be marooned by Peter Pan yet again.

I find that this story now also appears in a collection of railway anecdotes compiled by Geoff Body and Bill Parker entitled 'ALONG DIFFERENT LINES' '70 Real Life Railway Stories' published by The History Press in 2012, ISBN 978-0-7524-8915-5, priced at £9.99

David recorded 'actual' versus 'planned' trip timings on several occasions and these may be seen here:- Maidment Trip Timing 1 , Maidment Trip Timing 2 , Maidment Trip Timing 3 , Maidment Trip Timing 4.