The Great Eastern Railway (GER) Class S69, also known as 1500 Class, later classified B12 by the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER), is a class of 4-6-0 steam locomotive designed to haul express passenger trains from London Liverpool Street station along the Great Eastern Main Line. Originally they were designed by S. D. Holden, but were much rebuilt, resulting in several subclasses.
Seventy-one S69 locomotives were built between 1911 and 1921 and numbered 1500–1570. Fifty-one of these were built at the GER’s Stratford Works and the remaining 20 by William Beardmore and Company. A further 10 locomotives were built by Beyer, Peacock and Company for the LNER in 1928 and numbered 8571–8580.
Between 1932 and 1944 a rebuilding program was undertaken when all 10 of the “Beyer Peacock B12s” making them more powerful to cope with heavier trains. 8572 was rebuilt at the end of 1933, five years after being built.
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. It then spent most of its working life in East Anglia and in October 1959, 61572 was transferred to Norwich to become a bit of a celebrity and very soon becoming the Norwich mascot engine. At a time when the rest of the B12 class were being withdrawn, 61572 kept busy, and regularly worked the Lowestoft–Whitemoor goods train between Norwich and Kings Lynn (via Dereham).
It also regularly worked passenger trains from Norwich to Melton Constable before finally bing withdrawn on 20 September 1961 (outliving the rest of the B12 class by nearly two years). It was stored at Stratford prior to purchase by the M&GN Joint Railway Society in 1963.
The B12, together with the J15 and assorted stock arrived on the NNR at Sheringham on 4 June 1967. The loco was in a poor condition and much time and money would need to be spent to restore it to full working order. In 1977 when the J15 was recommissioned, 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. However, after a long and difficult restoration, the B12 was officially re-commissioned on 3rd March 1995, and dedicated to Bill Harvey. Bill had been instrumental in saving the locomotive during his time as Norwich shedmaster and had started and led the initial restoration of the B12 in the late 1970s. Sadly Bill died before the loco was steamed again.