In 1926, with increased loading on the East Anglia passenger services and the introduction of modern, vacuum-braked coaching stock, there was a desperate need for a locomotive that could supplement the Holden B12 Class on the former Great Eastern routes of the London North Eastern Railway.
Track limitations prevented the transfer of locomotives from other regions and so Nigel Gresley was tasked by the LNER to produce a three cylinder 4-6-0 design, using the cylinder and motion arrangement of the D49, but with a tractive effort of about 25,000lb and a relatively light axle loading of 17 tons.
The resulting Class B17 design arose from Doncaster Works’ inability to completely satisfy Gresley’s specification and the resulting contract for the detailed design and building of the class was, in 1927, given to the North British Locomotive Company in Glasgow. Using some of the features from a batch of A1 Pacific locomotives they had built in 1924, along with some features from the Royal Scot Class produced for LMS, the cab, cylinders and motion were all copied directly or modified slightly. Most of the boiler design was taken from the Class K3 and O2 designs.
Darlington Works assisted by providing drawings for the bogies, with Stratford Works providing the design for the Great Eastern type 3,700 gallon water tender.
Locomotive 61619 Welbeck Abbey entered service on November 8, 1930 having been built at Darlington Works. It was part of the first batch of B17/2 locomotives and was converted to the B17/6 variant in January 1953, whilst allocated to the March Shed. Renumber under BR in August 1948, the locomotive was withdrawn from service on September 19, 1958.
This model is the B17/4 Class variant, finished in an attractive Early British Railways livery. Running number 61619.