Suffolk firefighters come to the rescue of steam locomotive in Ipswich

PUBLISHED: 10:36 12 July 2019 | UPDATED: 10:36 12 July 2019

Mayflower is topped up by Suffolk Fire and Rescue at Ipswich station. Picture: DEAN BARNES

Mayflower is topped up by Suffolk Fire and Rescue at Ipswich station. Picture: DEAN BARNES


Firefighters from Ipswich helped save a luxury day out for steam enthusiasts – by allowing a fire to keep going.

Mayflower passing through Ipswich earlier in the day. Picture; NIGEL SIMMONDSMayflower passing through Ipswich earlier in the day. Picture; NIGEL SIMMONDS

Last week's special steam train from London to Norwich and East Dereham was returning to London at the end of a successful day when the diesel engine at the back of the train that was helping steam locomotive Mayflower developed a fault.

That meant the steam engine had to do more work - and use more water between Norwich and Ipswich. There were fears that it could have run out before its scheduled refill at Marks Tey which would have caused serious damage to its boiler.

Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service - whose Princes Street fire station is just yards from the railway - responded quickly to a call for an emergency top up from Mayflower's crew.

The train was seriously delayed at Ipswich while space for it was found on the line to return to London - and most passengers took up the offer of seats on Greater Anglia services back to Colchester and the capital.

You may also want to watch:

But Mayflower and its train was eventually able to continue under its own steam about three hours late - albeit slower than planned - being refilled with water again at Marks Tey. The stricken diesel was collected by another locomotive the following day and was taken to workshops to be repaired for its next outing.

Chairman of Steam Dreams David Buck, a former Ipswich schoolboy who became a millionaire and who now owns Mayflower, was impressed by the prompt response of the fire service. He said: "We would like to thank all of the staff, who responded swiftly to the emergency call and saved the day."

The locomotive was previously based at the North Norfolk Railway before being returned to the main line four years ago and is now a regular on steam special trains.

Simon Woods, the senior firefighter on duty, said: "We acted quickly to minimize the impact on the network and on the rail infrastructure."

He added: "It is not every day we get a request like this and as well as helping with the situation, it was an added bonus to see the magnificence of a steam engine close up".

Steam Dreams is due to bring Mayflower back to East Anglia, on Saturday, August 31 on a trip from London Kings Cross to Cambridge, Ely and Lowestoft.

If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Ipswich Star. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Ipswich Star