Midlands exhibit

LNER THOMPSON

B1 CLASS LOCO

This locomotive was acquired in a part-built condition with some issues with the chimney, running boards, steam pipe covers to cylinders, and so on. It was stripped down to its component parts which uncovered mechanical issues needing correction or replacing. Finally, it was painted in the correct livery and re-assembled. It was displayed at the 2017 Midlands exhibition.

The London and North Eastern Railway’s Class B1 was designed for medium mixed traffic work by Edward Thompson. It was the LNER's equivalent to the GWR Hall Class and the LMS Stanier Black Five, two-cylinder mixed traffic 4-6-0s. However, it had the additional requirement of having to be cheap because, due to wartime and post-war austerity.

Introduced in 1942, the first example, No. 8301, was named Springbok in honour of a visit by South African Prime Minister, Field Marshal Jan Smuts. The first 40 of the class were named after breeds of antelope, and they became known as Bongos after 8306 Bongo; 18 other B1s took the names of LNER directors.  Not that there were many B1s to be named during the war years; constraints on production meant that the first ten were not completed until 1944.

However, Thompson then placed substantial orders with two independent  builders: Vulcan Foundry and the North British Locomotive Company of Glasgow. Some 274 were built for the LNER and 136 for British Railways after nationalization in 1948.

It was the first two-cylinder main-line locomotive constructed for the LNER since the grouping, such had been Sir Nigel Gresley's faith in the three-cylinder layout. With cost saving a wartime priority, the LNER's draughtsmen went to great lengths to re-use existing patterns, jigs and tools to economize on materials and labour. Extensive use was made of welding instead of steel castings.  All the B1s were withdrawn during the 1960s, with two surviving into preservation.

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