9017 was officially built in 1938 as number 3217, from frames of Bulldog class 3425 (built at Swindon in 1906) and the boiler of Duke class 3258 The Lizzard. Little, if anything, came from 3258 as the boiler and cab came from 3253 (originally called Pendennis Castle) which was built in 1899. The fusion of different parts can be clearly seen in 9017 in such places as the cab, which had plates welded on to increase its height and new front lookouts cut in the original materials.This type of construction was a speciality of the GWR who adopted a system of standardised locomotive parts.
It spent time on the Cambrian line at Machynlleth and Aberystwyth before being withdrawn from service in October 1960. Whilst in service it was placed in store on five occasions.
From 1961 it was the last (apart from the preserved City of Truro) surviving locomotive to have outside frames.
From 1963 9017 carried the name plates of Earl of Berkeley, from Castle class 5060, which it was allocated as 3217. It carried 9017 number plates until the 2251 class locomotive that had been given the number 3217 was withdrawn from service in 1965 since when it has carried the 3217 number. Shortly after being restored the engine required considerable repairs and these and a general overhaul were completed in 1969
The tender attached to 9017 on arrival at Sheffield Park was from a 4300 class (probably 4305) when new. A replacement tender which had first been fitted to 6389 (also 4300 class). This tender was repainted for use with 3217 (9017) and was used from 1971 until the engine was withdrawn for overhaul in 1973. The overhaul which was not started until 1980 so the locomotive return to service in 1982.
Following its latest overhaul, the engine returned to traffic in November 2003. In the course of the overhaul, major boiler work was required, including the fitting of a new smokebox tube plate, manufactured by The Blubell Railway, and complete new sections of front and main frames.
The engine was re-painted in British Railways livery in 2009 (for a visit to the Llangollen Railway). It came out of service in 2011, two years before its boiler ticket expired, with a number of boiler and mechanical faults, and now awaits its next major overhaul. In 2014 its tender, which is of an appropriate design, was hired to The Dinmore Manor Group, while their own tender was being made ready.
The locomotive has been donated to the Bluebell Railway, with the requirement that the locomotive is to remain normally on the Bluebell Railway.
In 2017 it was announced that work on overhauling the locomotive was expected to start in 2019 but the overhaul had not begun by April 2022 due to work on other locomotives being regarded as higher priorities.
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