61572 is the only British inside cylinder 4-6-0 to be preserved.
61572 was built by Beyer Peacock & Co Ltd and entered service in August 1928 as GER number 8572. It was built as a one of the last ten of the B12 class and was classified as B12/3 with the running plate raised over the wheels and with Lentz valve gear. It was rebuilt by Gresley in 1933 with a larger round topped boiler and had the Lentz valve gear removed and it was classed as a B12/3 engine.
8572 was renumbered as 1572 in June 1946, under the LNER’s renumbering scheme, and again in May 1948 to 61572, when it changed ownership to the newly nationalised British Railways.
61572 spent most of its working life in East Anglia. 1953. Under BR it was based at Stratford from January 1948 until February 1953 when it spent a month at Grantham. After this it was based at Ipswich until in October 1959, 61572 was transferred to Norwich but was soon withdrawn as a result of a cracked cylinder. However, as it was one of the last surviving B12s and Bill Harvey, the Norwich shedmaster, had an affection for the B12s, he discovered that it wasn’t a cracked block, but a pitted casting and the locomotive was soon reinstated. At a time when the rest of the B12 class were being withdrawn, 61572 was kept busy, and regularly worked the Lowestoft–Whitemoor goods train between Norwich and Kings Lynn (via Dereham). Passenger trains from Norwich to Melton Constable (coincidentally running over the line which is the North Norfolk Railway), and a railtour for the Midland and Great Northern (M&GN) Society, later to be the engines owners.
61572 was finally withdrawn in September 1961 (outliving the rest of the B12 class by nearly two years) and was bought (along with J15 65462) by the M&GN Joint Railway Society in 1963 having been stored at Stratford works.
In 1963, two years after withdrawal 61572 embarked on an ambitious railtour. The tour was organised by the M&GN Joint Railway Society (now the B12’s owners), and was one of the first railtours on British Railways with a privately owned locomotive. The 260 mile tour would take the engine from London’s Broad Street station to Bedford, Stratford-upon-Avon, Rugby and return. 61572 performed admirably throughout the tour for an engine that had been out of service for two years, topping 70mph on the return to Broad Street, arriving all but two hours late. 61572 then went into storage at Devons Road in London and later at March in Cambridgeshire before moving to its new home in 1967.
It arrived on the NNR at Sheringham in 1967 and was found to be in poor condition and much time and money would need to be spent to restore it to full working order. Also at this time there were serious concerns about the axle loading on one of the bridges and whether the B12 would be permitted to cross it. Because of this, it was decided to only cosmetically restore the engine. In the meantime the Society concentrated on the restoration of the J15 whilst 61572 stood at Sheringham on public display. On completion of the work on the J15 in 1977 an appeal for £20,000 was launched to restore the B12 to full working order.
The eventual restoration of the B12 was one of the most complex in railway preservation history, and was to be plagued with pit falls and twists of fate. Initially the locomotive was to be restored at Sheringham. The tender was to be rebuilt by volunteers whilst a local boilersmith worked on the boiler. The target was to have it running by 1982. The boiler work sped ahead, but work on the rest of the engine ground to a halt, by which time the boiler certificate had already started to tick away. After several failed attempts to kick start the project it eventually got restarted in 1984 at Weybourne. While work was concentrated on the frames and wheels at Weybourne, the boiler was sent away to a specialist contractor in Essex. However, before much work was carried out on the boiler the contractor went bust. After much negotiating with the new owner of the company the M&GN Society were told to remove it or it would be sold and cut up for scrap.
At this time the Society was introduced to a Dutch contractor by Steam Railway magazine, who was looking for a flagship UK contract to kick-start business in the UK. He took over the boiler work and made arrangements for the frames and tender to be restored and 61572 was rebuilt at a works in former East Germany. So the unprecedented step was taken to ship the boiler to Holland where some significant firebox repairs were carried out prior to it being moved to Germany to meet up with the remainder of the locomotive.
The works in East Germany were at Kloster Mansfeld near Leipzig. The workshops still utilised traditional skills to maintain a small museum fleet of narrow gauge steam locomotives, that had been in daily use until the fall of the Berlin Wall the previous year. The frames arrived in September 1991 followed the next year by the boiler from Holland. Work soon started on the frames and wheels. Cracks were found in some of the driving wheels, and specialist welders had to be bought in from Holland to repair them.
At a time when the new united Germany set about reforming the inefficient industries in the East, the State owned works at Kloster Mansfeld was to be sold off. The contractor in Holland carrying out the work, said he would buy the works, but it was eventually bought out by the current management. Unfortunately though, the Dutch contractor never paid the Germans for any of their work, assuming he would buy the works. It was therefore not surprising that the new management were reluctant to carry out any further work on the B12 without guarantees of funding.
By now 61572 was totally dismantled and in hundreds of bits. It was looking bleak for the B12, and during negotiations, the M&GN Society were told, in no uncertain terms, to remove the B12 from the workshops and “dump it in the North Sea on the way back to England”. The society worked very hard to gain the trust of the new management, and after much negotiation persuaded the new company, Malowa, to continue with the job of restoring the B12. Work began in stages, firstly on the tender, and then on the locomotive. Over the next two years work progressed steadily until in November 1994, the loco was finally completed.
61572 arrived back at the North Norfolk Railway (NNR) in December 1994, resplendent in LNER apple green as 8572. There was still a little work to be done before it could run for the first time in 30 years.
The B12 was officially re-commissioned in March 1995.
Since returning to service in 1995, 61572 has worked extensively on the North Norfolk Railway. It has also visited other preserved railways, including the Severn Valley Railway, Great Central Railway (both at Ruddington and Loughborough), and the East Lancs Railway. In 2000 it also ran on the mainline again, when it attended Steam on the Met.
When restored in Germany 61572 was given the1930s LNER apple green livery, and remained in this livery for five years. It was repainted black in 1999. First into unlined North Eastern wartime black for the NNR’s popular 1940s weekend, and then shortly after it was changed to BR lined black, the livery that the locomotive carried until its next overhaul.
After 13 years of service the 61572 was withdrawn in the summer of 2007 as a number of small tubes in the boiler had started to leak and needed to be replaced. Due to the cost involved, it was decided that it wasn’t cost effective with just 6 months remaining on the boiler ticket.
Having learnt many lessons from the trials and tribulations of its first preservation overhaul, the B12 was kept in one piece whilst fundraising for its boiler appeal took place. The locomotive boiler was then removed and sent to Chatham Steam in Kent for assessment and overhaul. With greater resources to hand, the Society was able to invest a much greater amount into the overhaul and much work was done to the boiler. The locomotive frames were sent to Riley and Son (E) of Bury for overhaul, whilst the tender was overhauled in house at Weybourne works. Following successful steam testing of the boiler at Chatham Steam, it was moved to Bury where further out of frames testing took place, before the frames, boiler and tender were reunited.
In March 2012 61572 returned to traffic on the North Norfolk Railway. It was outshopped in LNER apple green once again.
Since returning to steam in 2012, 61572 completed over 90 steamings in 2013, including a visit to the Gloucestershire & Warwickshire Railway in May of that year and on the 5th October, it hauled the Sheringham to Holt leg of the Wandering 1500 charter, which ran from Liverpool Street to Holt, hauled by 70013 Oliver Cromwell, exactly fifty years to the day that 61572 hauled the original tour from Broad Street.
In September 2015 61572 ran into the stop blocks at Holt station which demolished the stop blocks and resulted in the buffers of the engine riding ridding up onto the wall behind the stop blocks. The locomotive was subsequently removed to Weybourne where it was examined by the relevant safety authorities before it was stripped down to properly access the damage. The rectification work that was needed was undertaken as part of the winter maintenance allowing the locomotive to return to service in 2016.
It is planned that the locomotive will be equipped to work over the Network Rail section to Cromer but there are no plans to run on other parts of the main line.
The boiler certificate expires in November 2020.
The plan was that the overhaul of the locomotive would be completed as soon as possible after its withdrawal from service as the owners and NNR are keen to have it back in service quickly.
In the event the locomotive was taken out of service for a major overhaul at the end of October 2021. The plan is to have it back in operation in time for its 100th birthday in June 2028.
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