The LNER 'Footballers'
During the heyday of British steam trains, the London & North Eastern Railway (LNER) built a large number of B17 Class 4-6-0 steam locomotives to haul express passenger traffic.
Their handsome lines and green livery made them firm favourites with both the footplate crews and the general public. Much of their popularity was due to the fact that 25 of the locomotives were named after Football League Clubs - they each carried appropriate club colours and brass footballs.
Probably the most famous of the ‘Footballers’, as they came to be known, was locomotive No. 2862 (later 61662) Manchester United. This engine was built in January 1937 and ran almost one million miles in traffic before being taken out of service at the end of 1959.
Sadly the steam preservation movement was in it’s infancy at that time and the Manchester United steam locomotive was scrapped before it could be saved for future generations to enjoy. However, the nameplates and works plates did survive and a replica plate is currently on display at the Club.