Although intended for construction in 1939, the first V4, No. 3401 Bantam Cock, didn’t emerge from Doncaster until February 1941, being out-shopped in fully lined apple green. After initial testing on the main line between Doncaster and Leeds it was sent to the Great Eastern section to be trialed the majority of those lines, including the Southend route; it proved singularly successful on the Norwich expresses and showed the design to be very frugal in terms of coal consumption.
No. 3401, fresh out of the paint shop in 1941
In 1942 No. 3401 joined its sister in Scotland, initially allocated to Edinburgh, Haymarket shed, to work trains in the Perth and Fife areas before both were moved to Glasgow, Eastfield in 1943 to work the west Highland line. Despite their superior ride quality and better crew comfort, the V4s couldn’t match the K4s for hill-climbing ability, possibly due to their wheel arrangement, and were limited to 250 tons over this road as opposed to the 300 tons the K4s were permitted. At about the same time as their transfer to Eastfield both locomotives were repainted in wartime unlined black with ‘N E’ initials on the tender. In 1946 No. 3401 was re-numbered 1700 under the Thompson scheme and regained LNER apple green in 1947/8, albeit with the simplified, un-shaded numbers and letters.
No. 1700 at Ardlui – Ben Brooksbank
With the nationalisation in 1948 Bantam Cock was re-numbered again, this time as No. 61700 although it continued to carry its green livery until 1950 when both engines received BR mixed traffic, lined black livery. In 1954 the locomotives were transferred again, this time to Aberdeen to work fish trains. They proved to be useful on the East Coast, being able to operate almost everywhere over the Great North of Scotland routes which were subject to a limited axle loading and on which Thompson’s B1s could not operate.
No. 61700 in early BR livery – Colour Rail
With their boilers due for renewal and there being no appetite at BR to produce two, unique replacement boilers, both V4s were withdrawn in 1957, No. 61700 on 4th March 1957.
No. 61700 awaits its fate at Cowlairs in April, 1957 – Bill Reed