Latest News

Manufacture of new Spring Hooks

We are informed that Network Rail is to place an order for new spring hooks for its LNER Tenders used as snow ploughs. The A1 SLT have been invited to add to this order for their P2 and V4 Tenders, and we have also received an invitation to add to the order, as have other owners of LNER locomotives. This would result in a considerable saving to all concerned because of the number involved. The Trust have decided to add to the Order and make an appropriate saving, particularly as this does not pre-empt a decision on any one clear solution to our final Tender design.
Members preferences will be considered when assessments have been conducted and we hope that Members appreciate the opportunity to make savings, even if a little out of order.

Directors visit P2 Project at Darlington - 15th October 2018

Several directors were involved in a visit to The P2 Steam Locomotive Trust's premises at Darlington, where they had a guided tour of the new build P2 by David Elliott, chief designer of both the A1 'Tornado', and the P2 to be named 'Prince of Wales'. Progress is impressive on this magnificent locomotive; the directors were shown aspects of the design learnings that can also be applied to 'Spirit of Sandringham' - remembering that our drawings are produced by David Elliott.

Whilst at the works, a conversation was had on locomotive tyres whilst looking at a spare set of Tornados tyres; at 6'8", these are the same size as a B17's tyres!

Our thanks to David Elliott and The P2 Steam Locomotive Trust for hosting us.

P2 visit

Brian Hall and Richard Taylor listening to David Elliott. Photo by John Pearson.

AGM 2018 report - 15th September

AGM Report Opening Address 

The Chairman opened the 7thAGM and welcomed 35 members to the meeting. The Director’s report for the year ending 30th April 2018 was jointly presented using slides by the Chairman, Larry Sampson, John Peat, Richard Taylor, Peter Wright, John Pearson and Henry Mullens. The Chairman commented upon the achievements of increased contributions from members including sponsorship donations for the ‘Spoke in My Wheel‘ campaign, with funding well advanced to complete the second driving wheel. The launch of the 61673 Constructors Club had also received early support by members. A further 25% increase in new members during the year also played a significant part in this improvement. Additionally, with donations and sponsorship from our supporters, the general public and our voluntary team’s achievement with sales promotions, the overall total had established a new record level of income. Grateful thanks were expressed for all financial contributions and help provided to realise this achievement.

Area Groups 

Larry Sampson stated that two members had volunteered to be Local Area Group Leaders for each of The Midlands and Beds & Herts. areas. Expressing a vote of thanks to each volunteer, he emphasised improvements in communications whereby Local Area Group members felt that they are in closer touch with the work of the Trust. Meanwhile Larry would continue to handle communications with members in the North of England, Scotland and Overseas. For the future, Larry invited more two-way communication with members such as identifying promotional opportunities, links with other local community groups, ideas to visit places of local interest, ideas and issues that others think are important and general feedback.

As an aid to communication, Larry explained that the Trust had recently introduced a Facebook page to users of Facebook – do give us a look!! 

61673 Constructors Club 

Larry Sampson spoke of the 61673 Constructors Club, introduced for members and non-members to maintain the next phases of the project programme involving larger and more expensive components for the construction task. The on-going appeal is based upon sums of £616.73 payable in equal monthly amounts for periods of up to three years for which benefits are provided in return for contributions. (Information leaflets accompany this newsletter or may also be obtained from the Trust).

B17 SLT working with Schools and STEM 2018/2019

Good progress has been made on the educational support materials for use in 5 trial Schools this academic year. Material has been written in collaboration with STEM to support GCSE Science and A Level Design and Technology linked to the Spirit of Sandringham Project. The materials are delivered by the STEM Co-ordinator in each School in conjunction with the Teaching Staff and this work is entitled 'Spotlight on Specifics'. At the end of the year the experience will be evaluated by STEM, the B17SLT and HMI with a view to making the materials available nationally at an appropriate cost. In the interim, our progress is being monitored during Parliament Week in November and more information can be obtained from the Trust.

Media and Marketing 

John Peat highlighted that whilst topical news coverage and advertising about the 'Spirit of Sandringham' project was continuing satisfactorily via the top railway magazines and related online agencies, further successes had been achieved with the local press and periodicals of general interest in parts of East Anglia. Similarly, John had arranged feature items about B17s for publication in railway society journals prevalent in East Anglia such as the Great Eastern, M & GN Joint and the Bure Valley Railway. Some examples were on display which illustrated some of the opportunities identified earlier and possibly appropriate for other Local Area Groups to pursue. 

Community Rail Partnerships 

Initiatives with local community rail partnerships across parts of Norfolk and Suffolk were also relevant, particularly associated with the common interest of railways, once the stamping ground of B17s, opening up opportunities to publicise the 'Spirit of Sandringham' project to regular rail users, visitors and enthusiasts.

Members' Survey 

John Peat explained that a member’s survey seeking views on a wide range of topics in the form of a questionnaire was planned for the Autumn period. This would involve a cross section of members selected at random with the distribution carried out via the Local Area Groups. This activity was last conducted three years ago. Once analysed, results will be shared with all members in the New Year. 

Promotional Activities 

Richard Taylor rose to the challenge in taking on the arrangement of Sales and Events from Geoff Starns at the end of 2017, explaining that certain new venues had been attended to embrace a wider audience whilst also maintaining a presence at familiar heritage railway locations and exhibitions. He thanked the volunteers without whose hard work and dedication our promotional activities could not have covered the diverse activities and venues visited during the year. Visual displays charted a mix of manufactured parts and processes, mainframe construction status, programme information and photos of B17s representing both LNER and British Railway periods. The work of our volunteers at the interface with the public continues to be a vital factor in encouraging new members to join the project and had clearly been successful. In some cases, new members had willingly volunteered their services during the period which was greatly appreciated. Grateful thanks to all members who had helped during another record-breaking year. 

Research Activities 

Peter Wright recounted the commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the inaugural service of the East Anglian consisting of six new purpose-built carriages with the capability of providing full dining facilities at each passenger’s seat, hauled by two streamlined B17s. He highlighted some of the many visitors to our promotional stand manned by each team at Norwich, Ipswich and Liverpool Street Stations and the benefits obtained by the Trust. Next Peter explained that his research (also shared with John Peat) had identified opportunities for further commemorative events associated with naming ceremonies of B17 engines and named trains which were once hauled by them. He was currently preparing a dossier to support these initiatives and provide further opportunities to promote the Spirit of Sandringham project. On a personal note, Peter thanked all members and friends who had either visited him or communicated with him during his recent illness. 

Members' Day Out 

John Pearson captured the Member’s Day out to the North Norfolk Railway in June with a series of photos which showed off the brand-new headboard bearing our name kindly sponsored by two members, present on the outing. In perfect weather, the train left Sheringham with a full complement on board, enjoying the seaside views whilst taking coffee + Danish with the Gresley N2 0-6-0 resplendent in Great Northern green numbered 1744 in charge. Visits were made to the Works and Signal Box at Weybourne giving time to view locomotives and carriages under restoration or repair with ample opportunity to speak with staff who explained some of the history and amazing facts about their work and the vehicles involved. In the Signal Box, the signalman described the sequential operations involved with the handling of approaching trains from either Sheringham or Holt. 

Back on the train, a superb lunch provided by the catering staff on board was enjoyed by all members at their seats as they chatted amongst themselves watching the world go by. John highlighted the usual raffle held amongst members whilst on board the train and then to journey’s end soon after 4 o’clock. He continued that it was an enjoyable day out as expressed by our members and indeed the staff who between them had established an excellent camaraderie. In conclusion, John reminded the meeting of suggested venues for consideration at next year’s member’s day out (2019) and invited feedback later in the meeting. Thanks to Geoff Starns who arranged and organised the event (but could not join us) and to John Peat and Roger Smale who ensured that everyone had a copy of the day’s programme and was directed to their seat.


The Chairman reported that the new contract for independent assessment to verify engineering design, manufacture, construction and additionally the management of safety risks in relation to certifying Spirit of Sandringham for mainline operation had commenced from January 2018 with Ricardo Rail Ltd, of Derby. This was compliant with new Rail Safety & Standards Board (RSSB) processes issued for new build steam from December 2017. 

During March 2018 a representative of Ricardo Rail Ltd, conducted an initial audit of the skills and competencies of the Llangollen Team and also of the mainframe structure and frame stays including related engineering build standard controls and manufacturing records resulting in a successful outcome. For the construction task, trial fitting of frame stays between the frames had demonstrated successful alignment with the full fit planned by the end of October. A further audit is planned, this time to inspect the completed mainframe structure with the Ricardo Rail representative present. 

For the rolling chassis, design work was reported as well advanced for hornblock castings and horn stays which when released will form the first components to be manufactured. 3D models of the rolling chassis were displayed showing the order of manufacture and assembly of axles and wheelsets leading to final fitting beneath the frames. It was explained that this would incur considerable cost by virtue of large components and sub-assemblies being involved over a two-year period and dependent upon the availability of sufficient funds. The wheels of course continue to be the subject of ‘Who will put a Spoke in My Wheel’ campaign and it is pleasing to report that at the time of writing the very latest status is that wheel 2 is completely funded with four spokes of the third wheel also funded – an excellent result!! 


Henry Mullens commented on various aspects of the Trust’s audited finances, outlining the strong position the Trust finds itself in with increasing contributions, aided by Gift Aid where appropriate.

Election of Officers 

For the re-election of Directors consisting of Brian Hall, Henry Mullens and John Pearson, all received a unanimous vote of confidence to be re-elected by the meeting. 

A. O. B. 

No resolutions or questions were received. 

Discussion Forum 

a) Members' Day Out 

This session was chaired by Larry Sampson. As a result of the time overrun on the first part of the meeting, discussion was confined to the proposed Member’s Day Out for 2019 and Member’s preferences with respect to operation of each of the two tenders owned by the Trust. 

An initial straw poll of the meeting indicated that only a minority had participated in one of the previous four annual outings. Member’s response in prioritising their decision to participate or not was summarised as :- the local area, favoured venue – past experience, memorable views and pleasant surroundings, preferred railway attraction, opportunity for train rides, sightseeing and interesting walks and cost. 

Members requested details of the Day Out be publicised early in January (for personal planning) to fit in with their personal commitments. 

By a show of hands, favoured railway locations were :- North Norfolk, Llangollen, Great Central, Nene Valley and Epping & Ongar. The Museum of Power at Maldon or a steam powered paddle steamer was also suggested. 

b) Tenders 

The LNER Group Standard and Great Eastern tenders owned by the Trust represent both types used by B17s in service. The former was known to have been coupled to a Class J39 0-6-0 but usage of the latter is not known. Both require thorough overhaul and restoration. Water capacity is a critical factor for mainline running and so both will require an assessment to determine how this could be improved, whilst also considering constraints for operating on the mainline railway. It was also noted that the Great Eastern tender exhibited evidence of provenance with respect to its heritage insomuch that one of the axle/wheelsets was marked with the name of the manufacturer, date and number indicating a direct link to B17 No. 2802. Steel samples of the axle when analysed confirmed the probable date of manufacture to be 1927/1928.


2018 Rail Art Calendar

The January Illustration of Malcolm Root's 2018 Rail Art Calendar features ''Sandringham at Home'', a view of pioneer B17 61600 on a passenger train at Royal station Wolferton.

Other illustrations in the area which B17s operated are:- April, a pre war scene with B4 5181 approaching March station with a local passenger train from Lincoln. June, a portrait of the Great Central war memorial engine ''Valour'' at Neasden shed. October, a 1950s scene at Wrabness with a J15 performing shunting duties and finally December, a very atmospheric scene on a foggy day at Norwich with 'Claud' 62564 arriving with a local passenger train. Other views around the country feature a 'Bullied' on the turntable at Weymouth, a local train in the lake district, the Nith Valley, Sonning Cutting, the narrow gauge Lynton and Barnstaple Railway, an A4 at Gleneagles and Duchess of Sutherland. The 2018 Rail Art Calendar is in the shops now.

Full size prints on good quality art paper of ''Sandringham at Home'' are available from The B17 Steam Locomotive Trust at £65 each + £5 postage and packing. The ideal Christmas present for the discerning Art or Railway enthusiast.