Welcome to the West Ham United Memorabilia Collection featuring everything Claret and Blue
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The Driver of No. 61672
Do you remember the West Ham United locomotive engine name plate that use to hang on a wall by the old West Stand?
For Hammers’ fans visiting the Boleyn Ground before today’s currently named Alpari Stand was built, the engine name plaque was a visible part of West Ham’s history. The plaque was on display for forty years prior to the redevelopment of the ground and the demolishment of the old West Stand in 2001.
The story behind the locomotive name plaque is worth telling as it recalls the long lost days of steam on Britain’s rail network.
West Ham United - LNER Locomotive 61672 Name Plate
61672 of the B17 Part 4 Class
In 1927 London North Eastern Railways (LNER) commissioned Sir Nigel Gresley to design a steam locomotive for hauling passenger services on the Great Eastern Main Line. In a ten year period a total 73 of the Class B17 were built. One of these, Locomotive 61672, was built in July 1937 and named after West Ham United. It served the railway lines between London and Cambridge, Ipswich and Norwich for 13 years. By September 1950 most of the surviving member classes were rebuilt with boilers which had increased pressure and were designated Class B17/6.
Twenty five such locomotives were also named after football clubs including West Ham United. By March 1960 none of the class had survived into preservation and from those which were scrapped British Rail presented a few football clubs with their respective name plates.
A list of other football league clubs honoured with engine name plates is included in appendix 1.
2nd Grouping Number: lner 1672
1st Grouping Number: lner 2872
Name: West Ham United
Class Code: B17/4
Designer: Sir Nigel Gresley
Builder: Robert Stephenson & Hawthorn Ltd, Darlington
1948 Shed: 31B March
Last Shed: 32C Lowestoft
Disposal details: Stratford Works (B.R.)
Disposal: Cut Up Scrap
Disposal Date: 31/03/1960
A couple of postcards capture locomotive 61672 in all of its glory. The first was a black and white Pamlin Prints postcard issued in 1965 and later a limited edition artwork postcard by transport artist G.S. Cooper was commissioned in 1995. The plaque also found fame on a couple of enamel badges.
Name Plate Presented to West Ham in 1960
When LNER scrapped many of these steam engines in the 1950s and 1960s, the name plates were removed and a few presented to the respective football league club. The Hammers were presented with the “West Ham United” name plate in March 1960 and mounted it on a presentation plaque which was first hung on the west stand turnstile wall, a decade later it had pride of place to the left of the players’ entrance in the old West Stand.
Over the years the Club repainted and changed the presentation plaque. It started life in green and gold and in the late 70s was decorated in claret and blue. It was also changed from including two claret triangular shapes, one either side of the ball, to a plain presentation board but maintaining the name plate’s inscription.
This inscription reads:
"This was the plate removed from engine 61672, named West Ham United. Scrapped March 1960. The locomotive was of the B.17 part 4 Class, designed by Sir Nigel Gresley for LNER, July 1937."
In the wake of the ‘Taylor Report’ which recommended that all top division stadiums in England and Scotland phase out their concrete terraces and become all-seater, the old West Stand was demolished in 2001 as work started on the new Dr. Martens Stand (currently known as the Apari Stand).
The engine plaque was removed from outside the players’ entrance and renovated back to its original green and gold colouring. The newly refurbished plaque then found a niche in the new directors' boardroom where it hung until the time of the ‘Icelandic takeover’.
Pride of place on the West Stand circa 1968
'All Change' at the Boleyn
Today the West Ham United name plate sits in the Hammers' storage siding waiting for the announcement of its next platform arrival.
West Ham United boardroom
The picture on the left shows Mr. William Hudson, a former driver of locomotive number 61672, standing below the name plate.
It was taken by his son Ken when they attended a Hammers' game in 1973. Ken mentioned that his father was formerly a train driver who spent 35 of his 47 years railway service at the Stratford Depot; he took the 61672 to places such as Norwich, Felixstowe, Clacton and Cambridge.
List of Clubs Honoured with Locomotive Engine Names
Arsenal, Barnsley, Bradford City, Darlington, Derby County, Doncaster Rovers, Everton, Grimsby Town, Huddersfield Town, Hull City, Leeds United, Leicester City, Liverpool, Manchester United, Middlesbrough, Norwich City, Nottingham Forest, Sheffield United, Sheffield Wednesday, Sunderland, Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United.
Where is the 2nd name plate?
Each steam locomotive had two name plates, one on either side of the engine. West Ham has one of the “West Ham United” name plates....does anyone know where the other is?
Train Spotters United
Bobby Moore poses beneath the engine plaque
For the train spotters and anoraks
Motive Power Details
Weight: Loco 77 tons 5 cwt
Tend: 52 tons 0 cwt
Boil Press: 180lb/sq in Su
Valve Gear: Walschaerts with derived motion (piston valves)
Cylinders: Three 17" x 26"
TE: 22,485 lb
Hull City captain Terry Neill pictured with the Tigers' engine plaque
Club secretery Eddie Chapman
This postcard painting was tied into the Royal Mail issues of stamps dated 8th August 1995, and shows the locomotive at the old Great Eastern Railway London terminus of Liverpool Street