A multi-million pound heritage train project can give a major tourist boost to West Norfolk’s economy, its supporters have claimed.
Nameplates for the new steam locomotive, which will be called the Spirit of Sandringham, were formally handed over to project leaders during a ceremony at Wolferton today.
The scheme, which will see a new B17 train of the type that was commonly named after the royal estate, is expected to take at least a decade, and cost around £2.5 million, to complete.
But Ben Colson, one of the sponsors of the project, believes it can provide a major boost to the borough’s economic prospects.
He said: “Supporting this project is really important. The day will come that this comes to reality and there will be something running round on the tracks with the Spirit of Sandringham on the side.
“The sight of that will be an enormous tourism lift for this area.
“The future of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk is increasingly seen to be in heritage and tourism and this is a very, very important part of that. It’s absolutely massive.”
Around £120,000 has so far been raised towards the train, which has been named the Spirit of Sandringham following the approval of the Queen.
The project aims to recreate the B17 class of locomotive, of which more than 90 were built over a nine year period from 1928.
The trains became known as the Sandringhams after the first to roll of the production line was named after the royal estate.
Others took the names of Norfolk landmarks, including Holkham Hall and Gayton Hall, while many more were named after football teams which played in towns and cities that were served by the then London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) company.
When the trains were decommissioned, with the last few being taken out of service in the early 1960s, at least one of the name plates was given to the club whose name the train bore.
One of those for Norwich City still stands above the entrance to the players’ tunnel at Carrow Road.
Work on the train itself is already underway and officials are appealing for public support to help fund the project.
Copies of a painting by transport artist Malcolm Root, which depicts the original Sandringham engine at Wolferton station, are now on sale for the scheme.
And Brian Hall, chairman of the B17 Steam Locomotive Trust, hopes having the name plates available for public display, will help to capture the imagination of supporters.
He said: “It’s evocative and we hope it will encourage people to help in some way.”
For more information about how to get involved with the project, including fundraising and volunteering, visit www.b17steamloco.com.