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Recreating a Steam Locomotive - The Power of a B17

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The gleaming green finish of the LNER Class B17 ‘Sandringham’ class locomotive, with its 6 ft 8 ins diameter driving wheels, provided a magnificent spectacle when stationary, awaiting the ‘right-away’ signal and hurtling through town and country at speed with a fully laden train. Designed by Sir Nigel Gresley for hauling passenger services on the Great Eastern Main Line between London and Cambridge, Ipswich and Norwich, and built between 1928 and 1937, its elegant lines with shining brass nameplates left an everlasting memory with railway staff, enthusiasts and the public.

With the demise of steam, all 73 were withdrawn from service by 1960 before the preservation movement had become established, and none was preserved. Now a project to construct a new B17 will recreate the exhilarating sights and sounds of the ‘Sandringham’ hard at work on the main line at the head of its train, and re-introduce something of our past heritage, for greater public benefit in years to come.

Formed in 2011, The B17 Steam Locomotive Trust aims to raise funds to construct a new LNER class B17 4 -6-0 express passenger locomotive, intended for operation on the mainline network and heritage railway sites in Britain. The design will be derived from existing drawings held in the archive at York. It will embody certain design improvements and use modern materials and processing techniques. This project also provides educational and skills training opportunities for apprentices and tradesmen alike associated with engineering, manufacturing and construction activities. The project will be conducted on a phased basis commensurate with the rate of incoming funds and be spread over a lengthy period.

Brian Hall is a trustee of the B17 project and has a long background in engineering with the British Aircraft Corporation, British Aerospace and MBDA in Stevenage. After leaving school in 1964, Brian worked as a time-served technician apprenticeship and then production engineer with George Kent Ltd, Luton. In 1971 he moved into Guided Weapons Defence Systems in various production management appointments with British Aircraft Corporation, British Aerospace and MBDA UK Ltd in Stevenage. When he retired in 2011, Brian became involved with the B17 steam locomotive new build project on behalf of ‘The B17 Steam Locomotive Trust’.

Time: Refreshments served from 18.30. Talk starts at 19.00. Ends by 21:00 following questions and discussion.

Venue: Lecture Room 5 (upstairs), Cambridge University Engineering Department, Trumpington Street, Cambridge CB2 1PZ (directions). There is limited parking available on site.

Free to attend. Booking not required. All welcome.

This talk is open to the public and is suitable for students and engineers. You are encouraged to bring with you colleagues, friends and family who are interested in engineering and railways.

A poster to publicise this talk can be downloaded here.

This talk is part of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (Cambridgeshire Area) series.

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