Ipswich Town to take to the rails for a celebration of steam

David Buck on the footplate of Mayflower

David Buck on the footplate of Mayflower - Credit: David Buck

When steam returns to the Great Eastern Main Line on the weekend of August 14/15, the locomotive at its head will have a very familiar name!

The train will be hauled by an LNER B1 locomotive sporting the name "Ipswich Town" as it pulls a number of special trains from Colchester to Bury St Edmunds to mark the 175th anniversary of the opening of the line.

Normally called Mayflower, the locomotive is owned by David Buck who was born and raised in Ipswich before setting up a very successful business in Windsor.

Mr Buck remains a keen Town fan - and was always frustrated that while the LNER named a number of its B17 class locomotives after football clubs, including Norwich City, Ipswich Town didn't get a look in because it was a non-league team at the time they were named.

He first announced his renaming plan last year and hoped it would coincide with the team being promoted from League One - but that didn't happen. 

David Buck's Ipswich Town nameplate

David Buck's Ipswich Town nameplate - Credit: David Buck

At the time he said: “The B17s weren’t very different from Mayflower. There wasn’t an Ipswich Town because it wasn’t a league club in the 1930s  but I had a nameplate made for my own collection.

“I’m now getting another made and I’m going to put them on Mayflower for a time."

The EUR 175 trains are being run by the Steam Dreams rail charter company of which Mr Buck is chairman. A spokeswoman for the company said it was his intention to run the locomotive with the Ipswich Town nameplates over the weekend.

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The weekend event, on August 14/15, is the first of two visits to Suffolk by Mayflower this month.

On August 28 the locomotive is heading a special train from Essex through Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds and Peterborough to Lincoln for a special day-trip that was originally planned for Easter 2020 but has had to be postponed several times because of the pandemic.

The B1 locomotives were often seen on the Great Eastern Main Line in the post-war years although Mayflower itself is not thought to have visited the area - it was based in Hull for most of its working life before being bought straight from British Railways for preservation in the late 1960s.