Mayflower leaves again

7th March 2015

The restored steam locomotive 61306 “Mayflower”  departed Southend East  7.22 am on Saturday 7th March 2015  heading towards London, and ultimately Bath.
Though the excursion did not stop at Leigh, there were interesting views from Hadleigh Castle and a small group of people gathered there with cameras, binoculars and what-have-you from 7.20 am so as not to miss a visceral experience.

There was someone close to the line, too; so as to get the full effect of smoke, steam, sulphur, cinders and chuffing! In the distance, a plume of steam and smoke rose over Leigh, last seen on a trip into Fenchurch Street many years ago.

The first sight was along the Saddleback after which Mayflower blossomed quickly into full view of the waiting group. Even at a range of 200 yards (about the same in metres) from the track, the throaty rumble and chuff rolled uphill with the evocative mix of steam and smoke obscuring most of the carriages and the diesel set at the back which would handle the return journey.

As the sun rose, and the Mayflower moved towards Benfleet Station with a nostalgic whistle, our spirits also rose, along with the steam, smoke and sheer enjoyment of a nostalgic moment!   If you saw Mayflower or perhaps were on the train, we look forward to seeing your pictures of the occasion.

View along the saddleback
Click picture to magnify the Mayflower
G Cook
A quick snap from the Castle
Steam and chuffing!
G Cook
Vintage picture, click to magnify!
Can you tell us when it is from?

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  • The last photograph is of great interest, and the clue to the location and the date is not in the train but in the signal box appearing on the right. See my parallel article* about the signal box. The photograph was taken from the castle slopes, and the agricultural accommodation crossing (very far right) is still there, although sealed off by fencing. The signal box looks new and very freshly painted, and as it is recorded as having been rebuilt in this location and form in 1916, I think that the photograph was taken in about 1916/17. This is born out by the nature of the train, a so-called “Tilbury” tank engine and seven or more six wheeled non-corridor carriages, by this date all in crimson Midland Railway livery. I think that this is one of only two known photographs of Hadleigh signal box. 

    [*Ed: click here for the parallel article.]

    By Nigel Seaman (25/06/2016)
  • Yes I was at the castle that morning you could see her from around Chalkwell by the smoke. Wonderful sight you could even smell the steam from up on the Castle . Brought back memories of trackside fires in August caused by sparks from the coal box on to the dry grass. Bring them back I say just as fast as nowadays and you could open the windows with the leather strap and let steam into the carriage.

    By Roger Shinn (14/03/2015)

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