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LNER / BR ‘Footballer’ B17/4 Locomotives

Details of the LNER/BR Class B17/4 locomotives named after famous English Football League clubs.

Football Train

Image used with kind permission from locos-in-profile


LNER / BR ‘Footballer’ B17/4 Locomotives

Like ships, there has always been a long tradition of naming railway locomotives dating back to the very first locomotive ever built by George Stephenson – “The Rocket”. The subjects have varied greatly with examples named after subjects as diverse as Kings & Queens, famous schools and country estates, valiant warships, commercial shipping lines, Battle of Britain fighter squadrons, Army regiments and even types of birds (“Mallard” still holds the World steam locomotive record of 126 mph set in 1938).
The London & North Eastern Railway (LNER) looked to the famous football clubs which they served on the East coast main line for their new class B17/4 locomotives in the 1930s, which were designed by Sir Nigel Gresley for hauling passenger services. Although not quite as glamourous as the A4 locomotives, which hauled the non-stop express trains from London to Scotland, the “Footballers” saw sterling service for many years and often substituted for their bigger brothers at various times.
Unfortunately, none of the locomotives were preserved and all were scrapped after being rebuilt during the 1960s but many of the name plates (splashplates) were salvaged and several have pride of place at various football grounds around the country – “Tottenham Hotspur” can be seen outside the Director’s Box at White Hart Lane while “Norwich City” has been installed just inside the player’s tunnel at Carrow Road. The nameplates were always attractively painted to match the colours of the club they represented and most featured a bronze football in half relief.
The “Footballer” locomotives have proved to be a popular subject for the model railway enthusiast and Hornby Railways have produced OO guage scale models of most of the examples, both in LNER and BR liveries, over the years.
There are currently plans to build a brand-new B17 from scratch and name it after a current football club.
Here is the full list of B17/4 class locomotives together with their LNER numbers, BR numbers, dates of build and de-commission and naming histories.
LNER Number British Railways Number Original Name (Rename(s)) Second Name Built Withdrawn Rebuilt as
2830 61630 Thoresby Park Tottenham Hotspur Apr-31 Aug-58 B17/6
2839 Rendelsham Hall Norwich City May-33 B2
2848 61648 Arsenal Mar-36 Dec-58 B17/6
2849 61649 Sheffield United Mar-36 Feb-59 B17/6
2850 61650 Grimsby Town Mar-36 Sep-58 B17/6
2851 61651 Derby County Mar-36 Aug-59 B17/6
2852 61652 Darlington Apr-36 Sep-59 B17/6
2853 61653 Huddersfield Town Apr-36 Jan-60 B17/6
2854 61654 Sunderland Apr-36 Nov-59 B17/6
2855 61655 Middlesbrough Apr-36 Apr-59 B17/6
2856 61656 Leeds United May-36 Jan-60 B17/6
2857 61657 Doncaster Rovers May-36 Jun-60 B17/6
2858 61658 Newcastle United The Essex Regiment May-36 Dec-59 B17/6
2859 61659 Norwich City East Anglian Jun-36 Mar-60 B17/6
2860 61660 Hull City Jun-36 Jun-60
2861 61661 Sheffield Wednesday Jun-36 Jul-59 B17/6
2862 61662 Manchester United Jan-37 Dec-59 B17/6
2863 61663 Everton Feb-37 Feb-60 B17/6
2864 61664 Liverpool Jan-37 Jun-60 B17/6
2865 61665 Leicester City Jan-37 Apr-59 B17/6
2866 61666 Nottingham Forest Feb-37 Mar-60 B17/6
2867 61667 Bradford (Park Avenue) Apr-37 Jun-58
2868 61668 Bradford City Apr-37 Aug-60 B17/6
2869 61669 Barnsley May-37 Sep-58 B17/6
2870 61670 Manchester City City of London May-37 Apr-60 B17/6
2871 Manchester City Jun-37 B2


LNER "Footballer" Locomotives

LNER / BR ‘Footballer’ B17/4 Locomotives with League Clubs Names, My Football Facts