Latest in the ‘Book Of’ series, presenting a comprehensive history and full sequence of works visits together with several photographs of every individual engine. ‘A handsome locomotive, firmly in the Gresley tradition of handsome designs’ and that is certainly true of the LNER B17 4-6-0s. ‘Good engineering should look good, and Gresley never set his hand to a design which looked less than very good.’ Again certainly true.
The engines had a relatively brief time at the forefront of express working, mainly on the Great Eastern and Great Central Sections and eventually all were concentrated at former GE depots. This rendered many of them remote from enthusiast eyes though fortunately the selection of one for Royal trains meant they came to be closely observed indeed. The Queen preferred to travel from Kings Cross to Sandringham, avoiding all the ceremony necessary when she entered the City of London, wherein lay Liverpool Street, the terminus otherwise considered the natural setting-out point for Kings Lynn and the Royal Estate. A B17, later rebuilt like ten others into B2 form was kept at Cambridge for the Royal workings and when not so engaged visited Kings Cross daily, most notably on the Cambridge ‘beer trains’ which could get a bit raucous.
Their names were large estates in the LNER countryside and on reading, the list it feels like an ancient copy of Debrett’s. In 1935 naming policy changed abruptly and the last 25 were named after prominent football clubs in areas served by the LNER. Thus the engines got both the nickname ‘Sandies’ (after the first one, SANDRINGHAM) and ‘Footballers’.