Published on: Thursday, 29 August 2019
Last updated: Thursday, 29 August 2019
The first steam rail-tour in five years is set to visit Lowestoft this Saturday, August 31 as Mayflower, one of only two surviving B1 Class Locomotives arrives with several hundred visitors on an excursion from London.
To mark the occasion the Wherry Lines Community Rail Partnership and Lowestoft Central Project have arranged for the newly restored Parcels Office Public Exhibition Space to host another opportunity to view the hugely popular Departures Exhibition, featuring over 70 photographic images of the local railway scene taken over the past five decades by acclaimed railway photographer, David Pearce. Open between 10am and 5pm, admission to the exhibition is free and will include a chance to meet the photographer. Between 12pm and 5pm, the East Suffolk Lines, Wherry Lines and Bittern Line Community Rail Partnerships will also have information available about local railway routes and rail related attractions, there will also be information on the forthcoming Lowestoft Heritage Open Days Festival, a display from the Halesworth to Southwold Railway Preservation Society, a railway book sale and refreshments.
Mayflower is expected to arrive around 2pm and be at the station for a couple of hours whilst passengers from the excursion have an opportunity to visit the town. Built for the London & North Eastern Railway, 61306 Mayflower is one of two surviving B1 Class locomotives.
The B1's were designed as mixed traffic locomotives capable of hauling express passenger trains as well as freight traffic. As powerful, go anywhere engines, the B1's worked across most of the UK rail network from East Anglia to Scotland.
Mayflower was built in 1948 by the North British Locomotive Company in Glasgow but was delivered post-nationalisation and acquired the number 61306 by British Railways. She was first allocated to Hull Botanic Gardens Depot followed by a spell at Hull Dairycotes Depot before being finally transferred to Low Moor Depot, Bradford. She was the last B1 in service, her final trip was hauling the 'Yorkshire Pullman' from Leeds in September 1967.
Mayflower was immediately purchased for preservation and was initially based at Steamtown in Carnforth. She was fully restored for mainline operation and worked a number of railtours in the 1970's. Acquired by Steam Dreams owner David Buck in 2014, she returned to the mainline in 2015 before being withdrawn for an extensive overhaul. Resplendent in the early British Railways apple green livery as she was originally given when delivered in 1948 she returned to full mainline operation in early 2019.
Mayflower has two cylinders, 6 driving wheels, a firebox grate area of 30 square feet and can operate at 75mph.
Those wishing to see Mayflower on her journeys via the Wherry Lines this weekend are asked to take care and not trespass on the railway as doing so could lead to delays and potential prosecution.