NEW CUSTODIAN FOR THOMPSON CLASS B1 NO. 61306 MAYFLOWER
Retired businessman and long-term London & North Eastern Railway enthusiast David Buck has acquired LNER-designed Thompson class B1 No. 61306 Mayflower from the Boden family for an undisclosed sum. The locomotive will be managed on behalf of David Buck by The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust.
The Thompson class B1 two-cylinder mixed traffic 4-6-0s steam locomotives were designed for medium mixed traffic work by Edward Thompson. Introduced in 1942, 274 were built for the LNER and 136 were built for British Railways (BR) after nationalisation in 1948 with the class eventually totalling 410. The prototype for the new class B1 4-6-0 was built at Darlington and entered service in December 1942. With cost saving a wartime priority the LNER re-used existing patterns, jigs and tools to economise on materials and labour and extensive use was made of welding instead of steel castings. The LNER placed substantial orders with two outside builders: Vulcan Foundry and the North British Locomotive Company of Glasgow. The B1s operated throughout LNER territory, with the first normal withdrawal occurring in November 1961 with the remaining locomotives were withdrawn between 1962 and 1967. Two B1s have been preserved, these being No. 61264 and No. 61306.
The B1 is seen at Stayground Lane crossing during a light engine movement - Ian McDonald
No. 61306 was built in 1948 by the North British Locomotive Company. It was allocated to Hull Botanic Gardens Depot until June 1959, when it was transferred to nearby Hull Dairycoates Depot, where it remained until June 1967, when it was transferred to Low Moor Depot, Bradford. Withdrawn in September 1967, No. 61306 was privately purchased for preservation at Steamtown in Carnforth. There it was painted into LNER Apple Green Livery and given the number No. 1306 and the name Mayflower. In 1978, No. 1306 moved to the Great Central Railway in Leicestershire, where it remained until 1989, when it was taken out of service for a ten-year overhaul at Hull Dairycoates and subsequently the Nene Valley Railway. In 2006 a further overhaul was undertaken at Boden Rail Engineering Ltd, Washwood Heath and the locomotive returned to the main line in 2012 as No. 61306 in Apple Green livery with ‘British Railways’ on the tender. Since the time it has been under the care of Neil Boden and has always been an exemplary locomotive both in terms of the high quality of its turn out and its operational pedigree.
Having only completed around 2,000 miles since its last overhaul, No. 61306 will be available for private hire by heritage railways and for use on main line charter trains. It is anticipated that the locomotive will initially move to the North Norfolk Railway in Sheringham.
David Buck commented, "I am delighted to become the new custodian of No. 61306 Mayflower. I have vivid memories of B1s working in and around Ipswich and this is the fulfilment of a childhood dream. The Boden family have always ensured that the locomotive was immaculately presented and this will continue as Mayflower seeks work on heritage railways and main line charters.”
Neil Boden added, “The Boden family has had the pleasure of owning Mayflower for over 30 years and we are delighted that this wonderful locomotive is going to David Buck who will continue to maintain the same high standards of presentation and who really cares about the locomotive.”
Mark Allatt, chairman, The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, concluded, “ We are delighted to be working with David to operate this much-loved LNER designed locomotive and bring it to new audiences up and down the country. As a Darlington designed locomotive, No. 61306 Mayflower is a perfect complement to No. 60163 Tornado.”