Special exhibition at March and District Museum takes a trip down the tracks of railway history

Royal Funeral Train exhibition at March museum, Peter Wright from March museum. Picture: Steve Willi

Royal Funeral Train exhibition at March museum, Peter Wright from March museum. Picture: Steve Williams. - Credit: Archant

A nostalgic trip down the tracks of railway history is on offer at March and District Museum thanks to a special exhibition currently on show.

Entitled ‘Royal Funeral Train - March engine’s humble duty’ - the exhibition, run in association with The B17 Steam Locomotive Trust, gives an account in words and pictures of the journey made by the late King George V’s body after he died at Sandringham in January 1936.

The exhibition marks the 80th anniversary of the journey undertaken by LNER class B17 No 2847 ‘Helmingham Hall’ - which pulled the funeral train from King’s Lynn to London on January 23.

The engine was allocated to March depot at the time and represented the newest engine of the class following its delivery from the railway workshops at Darlington.

Prominent in the display are illustrative accounts and photos of the sombre journey to the capital together with four full size nameplates which represent the names of stately homes allocated and carried by many of the engines of the class.


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Two of the nameplates are unique after being saved when the locomotives were broken up in the late 1950s whilst the other two are replicas in brass.

‘Helmingham Hall’ takes pride of place in the exhibition because of its link to the late king, the other is ‘Sandringham’ named after King George V granted permission for the name to be used by class No 2800 in 1928.

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It is the first time both have been on public display since they were taken off the engines 55 years ago.

Interesting stories of their history together with the two other engines ‘Hatfield House’ and ‘Champion Lodge’ including from the footplate men also form part of the exhibition.

The current exhibition runs until tomorrow (Saturday) and the museum is open daily from 10.30am to 3.30pm, but do not worry if you miss it this time around as it returns to the March Museum for a second showing daily at the same times from Wednesday February 3 to February 10.

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