The historic 1940s Mayflower steam locomotive prepares to pass through Swindon

Steam enthusiasts should be in for a pleasant surprise on Thursday as Mayflower returns to the Great Western main line.

The steam locomotive is due to make one of its many trips to Wiltshire this summer.

Mayflower is part of the Thompson B1 class which was built by the North British Locomotive Company in Glasgow for the London and North Eastern Railway and was delivered shortly after nationalisation.

Construction of the class had originally begun during World War II.

The B1s were designed as mixed traffic locomotives capable of hauling express passenger trains as well as freight traffic. As powerful, go-anywhere engines, the B1s ran on most of the UK rail network, from East Anglia to Scotland.

Mayflower was the last B1 to be withdrawn from service in September 1967, her last voyage being the ‘Yorkshire Pullman’ from Leeds.

It was then immediately purchased for retention and was initially based at Steamtown in Carnforth.

The locomotive is currently owned by David Buck, who runs rail tour operator Steam Dreams.

Mayflower is to carry the Cathedrals Express from Shoeburyness to Bath Spa and return via the Great Western main line.

The section from Shoeburyness to Southall near London and back will be hauled by diesel locomotive.

The steam locomotive will then pick up the train and drop it off at West Coast Railways headquarters in London.

Schedules have been announced for the special train which are as follows.

Outwards :

  • Shoeburyness (06:48)
  • Southend East (06:55),
  • Leigh-on-Sea (07:07),
  • Town of Tilbury (07:29),
  • Purfleet (07:37),
  • Dagenham Quay (07:44),
  • Barking (07:55),
  • Leyton Midland Road (08:11),
  • Tottenham South (08:20),
  • West Hampstead Thameslink (09:03),
  • Acton Main Line (09:20),
  • Southall (09:31 – Mayflower added to train here)
  • Mud (10:29),
  • Reading (10:48),
  • Didcot Drive (11:07),
  • Swindon (12:20 p.m.),
  • Chippenham (12:48)
  • Spa Bath at 1:03 p.m.

On the outward journey, the train will call at Shoeburyness, Southend East and Barking.

It also needs to stop at Swindon for a 12.20am journey stop for about 10 minutes to allow another service to pass.

Return journey times

  • Hot tub
  • Chippenham (17:11),
  • Reading (7:15 p.m.),
  • Slough (19:42),
  • Acton Main Line (8:54 p.m.),
  • West Hampstead (21:09),
  • Leyton Midland Road (9:38 p.m.),
  • Barking (21:48),
  • Southend Central (22:37),
  • Southend East (22:43)
  • Shoeburyness (22:52.)

Jose P. Rogers