Area Groups


Steady progress is being made in appointing Area Group Leaders for each of twelve Area Groups identified to date. Those area groups already established have made great progress in mobilising their Groups and their initial achievements are summarised here.

Cambridgeshire and Fenland Group

On Friday 21st April, Peter Wright of the B17 Steam locomotive Trust Cambridge and Fenland Group gave a presentation to the members of March Museum. The theme of Peter's talk was the horses whose names adorned 122 railway engines that ran on the main lines north from King's Cross. He outlined the LNER's adoption of this unique naming policy and stories about the horses and those associated with them. Among them were, 'Aboyeur', which won the 1913 Derby, the race in which suffragette Miss Emily Davidson died after throwing herself under the hooves of the King's horse. 'Merry Hampton', winner of the 1887 Derby and which was perhaps the worst horse ever to win that prestigious race. 'Humourist' which won the 1921 Derby but within the week had died of advanced tuberculosis. 

Peter received a warm round of applause and was thanked for his efforts by Museum chairman, Gordon Thorpe.

Cambridge and Fenland Group

Top transport artist Malcolm Root was guest of March Railway Circle on Friday 24th March. Malcolm entertained his capacity audience by describing how his natural youthful talent to draw was encouraged through his school days. Illustrations of Malcolm's early drawings and paintings were shown.  He began a career in printing but after a voluntary redundancy he started a career as a full time painter. A lucky chance gained him commissions to illustrate the front covers of telephone directories. Examples of his distinctive oil paintings were then displayed and discussed at the meeting while Malcolm described how he assembles historical material, sometimes from numerous sources, to ensure that his paintings are always historically correct. His distinctive work now appears in books, posters, calendars and on crockery and jig - saw puzzles.

Malcolm, who was supporting the B17 Steam Locomotive Trust, was thanked by Circle organizer Peter Wright. The meeting raised additional funds towards the Trust's ambition to build a new example of a LNER  B17 'Sandringham' class locomotive.

Photograph - Artist Malcolm Root with his recent painting of the 'Sandringham' locomotive at Wolferton station and flanked by his hosts, Maureen and Peter Wright.


Midlands Group (Feb 2017)

The West Midlands G Scale Show took place on Saturday 11th February 2017 in Solihull.  This was attended by Fiddlers Green 16mm Steam Railway representing the B17 Steam Locomotive Trust. The literature available on the Stand caused a lot of interest as local enthusiasts were not always familiar with the Project. A number of Membership Forms were taken and we even managed to sell a Lapel Badge to one of the visitors. Altogether an enjoyable Show in a 'new' area! 

 Southend Group (Feb 2017)

South East Essex Railway Society Meeting took place at 8pm Tuesday 14th February 2017 in Chalkwell, Essex. This meeting was attended by the Southend Group with the B17 Stand and a display about the last B17s to work into Southend Victoria. The topic for the evening was 'The life and times of a steam enthusiast' delivered by Larry Sampson, one of our Directors. This culminated in the story so far for the B17 Trust and his involvement with Garden Railways. The meeting appeared to be enjoyed by everyone and resulted in a donation from SEERS to the Trust for which we are very grateful.                                                  

Essex Group (January 2017)

The end of steam at Southend Victoria in December 1956 reported in the Southend Area Group below provided an opportunity for the Essex Area Group to get some coverage of the Trust on Essex Live which is the online ‘breaking news’ arm of Essex Media Group. The group publishes two weekly papers in Brentwood and Mid Essex but its focus is very much on the online medium.The published article complete with picture is shown below.

A B17 at the head of a passenger train in the 1950s

A B17 at the head of a passenger train in the 1950s

A new steam engine is set to be built to mark 60 years since electric trains replaced steam trains on the Southend to Liverpool Street line.

An initiative by the B17 Steam Locomotive Trust, the project will see a full working replica of a Sandringham engine built, nearly 60 years since the last one was taken out of action on Essex's rail network. 

And the Trust say they can't wait to get the engine constructed and operational.

"Building a brand new mainline steam engine is not for the faint hearted but this is just what the B17 Steam Locomotive Trust is doing," said a spokesman for the Trust.

"The Trust was established in 2011 to construct a brand new B17 'Sandringham' locomotive of the type that used to haul passenger trains on the London Liverpool Street - Southend Victoria route via Shenfield and Billericay until December 1956 when they were replaced by electric trains.

Cambridge and Fenland Group

                  On Tuesday, 17th. January, members Peter Wright and Richard Munns attended a meeting of the March Probus Club to deliver a talk about the effect that the 1953 floods had on the railway. The talk described the immediate damage and disruption to the railway system, what was done to continue services where possible on alternative routes and what remedial work was needed to rectify the damage. It also described the resourcefulness, resilience and dedication displayed by railway staff at a difficult time. In some areas little damage was done and services were restored within a few days but some lines were washed away, one not being restored for use for almost a year and another never being restored at all. Alternative lines were brought back into use and even relayed to continue services.  Also some subsequent business opportunities that the railway was able to exploit were described and letters of thanks from the travelling public and business read out.

Southend Area Group

Members of the Southend Group attending the Shoeburyness Model Railway Show in November examined local archive material to prepare information for the display on the following topic and we can now share that information.


The B17s did not play a major part on the line to Southend until the 1950s. They were mainly used on the London Liverpool Street to Norwich, and Ipswich routes and London Kings Cross to Cambridge.

They were also used on the Great Central from Manchester and Sheffield via Nottingham and Leicester to London and at times they were used on boat trains from Harwich to Manchester.

Whilst they replaced the B12s on many of these trains the B12s maintained their dominance on trains to Southend. In 1954 Southend Victoria shed (30D) had 7 B12s and 8 B1s but never any B17s. However towards the middle of the1950s B17s became more common so much so that on the last day of steam no less than 5 were involved.

The last day of steam workings at Southend Victoria was December 30th 1956. On this day 61663 Everton took out the 5.44am to Liverpool Street followed by 61654 Sunderland on the 7.48am. In the afternoon class leader 61600 Sandringham hauled the Liverpool Street bound 3.50pm and 61672 West Ham United then powered the 7.50pm to Liverpool Street. Throughout the day 61610 Honingham Hall was the pilot engine and was on an ECS working at 9.15pm. All the B17s were allocated to Stratford at the time (Dec 1956) although they moved on to other sheds later.

The very last steam passenger working was the 8.50 pm to Liverpool St taken by B1 61335.There were no down steam passenger workings that day.

Total electrification of passenger services took place the next day.

Freight workings continued with J20s and J39s.There were probably steam excursions after this date as the shed 30D did not close immediately. In fact the shed was used for locomotive storage for a couple of years.

Which brings us to the last B17 61668 Bradford City which was kept on shed at 30D until August 1960.  However it was not the last working B17 which was 61660 Hull City working from March Shed in early 1960.This together with 61657 Doncaster Rovers and 61664 Liverpool were taken to Stratford in June 1960 for cutting.

Therefore 61668 Bradford City, stored at Southend Victoria shed (30D), was the last one to be taken to Stratford for cutting up.

This ended the life of the B17 Class which began in 1928.

Hopefully at some future date we will see another B17 61673 Spirit of Sandringham working on the mainline and working down to Southend Victoria again.

Southend Area Group

The start of Christmas 2016 came early for the Southend group when members  and guests gathered at Tomassi 's Restaurant in Southend on Saturday, November 26th, at 12.30 pm for their first Christmas lunch/social as an official B17 area group. The members, along with Directors Brian Hall and Larry Sampson, the Essex group leader and B17 Publicity Officer, indulged either from the Christmas or ordinary menu with Tomassi 's speciality Italian ice cream also enjoyed by all from the sweet menu!!!

Lots of social talking among everyone resulted in a very nice environment for drinking and eating food in pleasant Christmassy decorated surroundings. There was  even a "Christmassy" novelty raffle and goodie bags !!!



 What a great successful way to finish off 2016, being the first year for the group !!!


Beds. and Herts. Group

The Royston MRC Show on Saturday November 19th was attended by our own Fiddlers Green 16mm Layout and the new Herts and Beds Area Group Leader, who was exhibiting his beautiful model of 61673 Spirit of Sandringham amongst others. This model provided an excellent opportunity to view, on a small scale, what we are all striving to achieve and it caused a large amount of interest.

The Show was well attended with over 300 people through the door in the first hour of the morning. Between running trains on Fiddlers Green and talking to interested visitors the day went amazingly quickly. This is one of the last Shows this year and we look forward to 2017 with eager anticipation. 

East Midlands Group

The end of season steam gala at the GCR at Loughborough on Saturday 19th November was attended by East Midlands Group members and B17SLT Chairman Brian Hall. 

The weather was cold but sunny and there was a reasonable turn out by members of the public who were attracted to the stand by a good selection of OO model railway locos, paintings and books kindly donated by members of the trust and others.   




 The promotional display at Loughborough Central





A few members turned up to have a chat and encourage us and there were also a few potential new members who expressed an interest in the project. 

The GCR produced five steam locos and one diesel for the event including a Britannia pacific, a GWR Modified Hall, a Black Five, an 8F, a Riddles 2MT and a Brush Class 31

All in all a successful day


Southend Area Group


           Southend Area Group members manning the promotional stand at "Shoeburyness"  


Also over the weekend of November the 19th and 20th, and seven days after being at Romford show, the Southend Area Group moved on to home ground the Shoeburyness Model Railway Show event at Garons Park on November 19/20th, 2016, our fifth year at this show on the trot !!! As usual the setting up on the Friday night was followed by two full days with five members manning and greeting visitors on the stand.  Other members visited during the two days which gave us a total of 80% of our group membership including  an 88-year-old who bussed and taxied to the show. Centre stage of the stand was the historical display two local members on  the last day of steam at Southend Victoria station, using at least four B17's on duty

At one stage the group entertained the Southend Mayoress on the stand to view the town’s historical part of the stand and she showed great interest in our project, asking when the locomotive is built, could it recreate the last steam days of Southend Victoria !!! We sincerely hope so.

The group are out again on Saturday November 26th, 2016, with B17 members and guests, but not working, but to enjoy our Christmas lunch (12.30 pm) at Tomassi 's Restaurant in Southend High Street.

The group would like to extend Christmas and New Year greetings to other groups, all members and supporters and the Directors.



Cambridgeshire and Fenland Group                

On Tuesday 15th November, Directors Brian Hall and Peter Wright attended a meeting of the Railway Group of Peterborough U3A at the Peterborough indoor bowling club at Burton Road. An audience of 40-50 members were informed about the origins of the B17s and the project to build 'Spirit of Sandringham'. They were also entertained by film of cutting and machining the frames and erection at Llangollen. A large amount of B17 literature and newsletters were distributed. 

Southend Area Group

On a wet, dismal and overcast day on Saturday, November 12th, 2016, the group was on duty at the Romford Model Show's B17 stand. The show was fairly well attended despite the weather and there was plenty of interest from visitors and was financially successful.

Three members set up the stand on the previous night with tables and all sorts of paraphernalia and articles for sale, plus of course membership and gift aid paperwork to give out. Several other B17 members attended the event, including the new Essex Group Leader, who gained an insight how the stand functions when the group attends events. Also a special mention for one of our members from Ipswich who travelled by train and bus with a large, heavy, haversack on his back, full of railway books, for us to sell; many thanks. 

 Geoff Starns and Larry Sampson, two of our directors, were also attending with their respective model railway layouts. So with a good turn- out of B17 members it proved to be a very good social event.

There is no rest for group members as they prepare mid-week for next week’s Shoeburyness Model Show on Saturday, November 19/20th, 2016 at Garons Park Southend (SS24FA). This is a historical display inspired by the B17 Steam Locomotive Trust’s Director and archivist Peter Wright.

Cambridgeshire and Fenland Group

 On the evening of Monday October 24th John Morgan of Peterborough spoke on behalf of B17 SLT to March Rotary Club about his railway footplate career which began at King's Cross in 1954. John had previously given a talk to the March Railway Circle after being recommended by Andrew Stevenson and then offered his services to give similar presentations on behalf of the B17 Steam Locomotive Trust. 

John had no intention of becoming a railway man but soon after leaving school, difficulties in his father's business caused him to seek employment elsewhere. In 1954 British Railways at King's Cross was virtually still an all steam railway and would remain so as John rose up the 'links' to mainline fireman. 

He told humorous stories of his training, of being on the steam suburban tank engines and main line expresses to the North East of England and recalled incidents and characters from this era in an easy and informative style.

In the post steam era he became a diesel driver and footplate inspector before becoming a member of the management team. 

Comments from his mixed male/female Rotary Club audience were most favourable and John generously donated his fee to the B17 SLT.

 On Friday 28th October Peter Wright of the B17 Steam Lococomotive Trust was the guest after- dinner speaker of the March Railway Circle. Peter presented an illustrated lecture on the damage the 1953 floods caused on the railway. He informed his audience of how the railway made arrangements to continue to carry its traffic and how the damage and routes were restored. Peter was warmly thanked by his audience.