Britannia was built at Crewe, completed on 2 January 1951. She was the first British Railways standard locomotive to be built and the first of 55 locomotives of the Britannia class. The locomotive was named at a ceremony at Marylebone Station by the then Minister for Transport Alfred Barnes on 30 January 1951.
The BR Locomotive Naming Committee were determined not to use names already in use on other locomotives. They tried to observe this by not selecting the name Britannia for use on 70000 because it was already in use on one of the ex-LMS Jubilee Class locomotives, but Robert Riddles overruled them and the Jubilee had to be renamed.1
Britannia was initially based at Stratford (30A) in order to work East Anglian expresses to Norwich and Great Yarmouth. Subsequently, the loco was based at Norwich Thorpe (w/e 31 January 1959) and March (June 1961) before spending the remainder of her career on the London Midland Region: Willesden (1A) (w/e 30 March 1963), Crewe North (5A) (w/e 25 May 1963), Crewe South (5B) (w/e 19 May 1965) and finally Newton Heath (9D) (w/e 5 March 1966) from where she was withdrawn w/e 28 May 1966,2
For many years, Britannia had her cab roof painted white. This was to commemorate her pulling the funeral train of King George VI from Norfolk to London following his death in February 1952 at Sandringham House, Norfolk.3
Britannia was withdrawn in May 1966, after 15 years of service.4