Steam fans look forward to the return of Mayflower to Suffolk

 The Easterling steam tour hauled by Mayflower, a steam engin normally housed at the North Norfol

Mayflower returns to the region next month. - Credit: iWitness

Suffolk steam railway fans will have two treats in August with special trips behind a former British Railways locomotive through the region. 

Mayflower will be at the head of a series of trains between Colchester, Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds over the weekend of August 14/15 to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the arrival of the Eastern Union Railway, built to link Colchester to Norwich, in the town.

Two weeks later it will be back in the area at the head of a special train heading from Essex and Ipswich to Lincoln. Both the trips are run by Steam Dreams rail tour operators whose chairman is Ipswich-born David Buck who now owns Mayflower.

David Buck on the footplate of Mayflower

Ipswich- born David Buck on the footplate of Mayflower - Credit: Steam Dreams

Mayflower is one of only two LNER-designed B1 locomotives to be preserved - it was not actually delivered until after nationalisation in 1948 so it was never operated by the original LNER company.

It is a mainstay of main-line steam - and is a type of locomotive that operated express trains between London, Ipswich and Norwich in steam days - although Mayflower itself was based at Hull for almost its entire working life.

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Since returning to the main line about seven years ago, however, it has made several trips to the region - including a "maiden voyage" from Norwich and Ipswich to Windsor.

The Lincoln trip was originally planned for Easter last year and has had to be rescheduled several times because of the pandemic and Network Rail engineering work.

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On the return journey from Lincoln, Mayflower will only be at its head for the first part of the trip from Lincoln to Peterborough. For the rest of the journey from Peterborough to Ipswich and  Chelmsford it will be pulled by an historic diesel locomotive.

There are still tickets being advertised for the EUR 175 celebrations - which include several return trips each day - on the Steam Dreams website.

As well as passengers the daylight trips on August 14 and 15 are likely to attract some keen photographers who want to get pictures of Mayflower in places like Cattawade on the Suffolk/Essex border and Needham Lake where the line runs beside the beauty spot.

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