Historic Norfolk train will be back ahead of centenary
- Credit: Roger Harrison
This is your last chance to take a ride behind the jewel in the crown of the North Norfolk Railway… for a few years anyway while it has an “MoT.”
The Poppy Line’s flagship unique B12 locomotive will be taken out of service at the end of October for a major overhaul so that it can return to steam in time for its 100th birthday in 2028.
I know how many of our readers love these wonderful trains on this superb railway so, to be technical for a moment, the B12/3 locomotive 8572 (BR number 61572) has been in preservation for 58 years – 25 years longer than it ran in mainline service.
Bought by the M&GN Society back in 1963, it has been based at the North Norfolk Railway since 1967 where it is undoubtedly a star attraction.
Since returning to steam in 1995, this celebrity engine has run almost 70,000 miles. It had its first major overhaul between 2007 and 2013, and now approaches its second.
Its final weekend in service will be October 30-31, when steam enthusiasts will have their last chance to ride behind this celebrity engine for some time.
Services will be leaving Sheringham at 10:20, 12:00 and 13:40 and Holt at 11:07,12:47 and 14:27 with those beautiful 1920’s teak liveried Gresley Quad Art coaches. Souvenir tickets will be issued to travellers on the services hauled by the B12.
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“A Pictorial History of the B12s” will be available at the farewell event. This will be the third in the popular Norfolk’s Railways series by Dennis Greeno and Richard Adderson, published by the society. They are highly recommended.
The B12’s were very much a feature of travel in East Anglia from just before the First World War through to 1959.
Tickets are available online from the North Norfolk Railway’s website (www.nnrailway.co.uk) or at stations on the day.
So why is 8572 so special?
It is the only British inside cylinder 4-6-0 in preservation and the sole surviving member of the once 80 strong B12 class and it spent nearly all its working life in East Anglia.
In October 1959 it was transferred to Norwich, where it found a friend in the late, great Bill Harvey, the shed master, and was to enjoy celebrity status as Norwich’s mascot engine in its twilight years.
Bill kept it busy, regularly working on the Lowestoft to Whitemoor (March) goods and passenger services between Norwich and Melton Constable.
Had it not been for him taking such a personal interest in this locomotive, giving his own time for fundraising, the 61572 would probably not have survived.
It was finally withdrawn on September 20 1961 and moved to Sheringham in 1967. By now it was in a poor way and significant time and money were needed to restore it.
This was a long and complicated task with work being undertaken in Germany before it eventually returned to Norfolk in 1995 where it was dedicated to Bill, who worked so hard to save it, but sadly didn’t live to see it steam again. He died in 1994.
Since then the B12 has carried thousands of passengers and headlined the railway’s publicity. It has also visited other heritage railways across the country.
“All heritage steam engines are required to have an ‘MoT’ every ten years, for understandable reason. These things do not come cheap,” said society chairman Neil Sharpe.
“The cost is likely to be around £400,000 but we are up for the challenge and, with a fair wind, the B12 will be back in service for the end of 2023, in plenty of time to celebrate its 100th birthday and steam into the next century,” he added.
With thanks to Peter Mayne, Media Officer, with the M&GN Joint Railway Society.
The North Norfolk Railway is one of East Anglia’s top tourist attractions, operating a five and a half mile heritage railway from Sheringham to Holt which normally carries around 160,000 passengers a year.