The first of Thompson’s B1s rolled off the production line during WWII and their construction continued well into Nationalisation. The first 40 of the class were given the names of species of Antelope and No.(6)1005 received the name Bongo – being class B1 they became known, affectionately, as Bongoes. Most of the rest of the class remained un-named except for a small number given the names of former Directors of the LNER. The final engine to be named, in 1951, No.61379 was called Mayflower, neither an antelope, nor a director.
No. 61379 was given the name Mayflower along with a plaque commemorating the ties between the towns of Boston, Lincolnshire, and Boston, Massachusetts, and the friendship between the USA and the British Commonwealth.
Jump forward a few decades to the days of heritage railways and preservation and the saving from scrap of No.61306, one of the many members of the class, over 400 were built, never to be given a name. The engine’s new owners decided to paint their engine in Apple green livery and give her the name Mayflower – a somewhat less than accurate restoration for an engine which was never named, nor painted Apple green. However, it may not be authentic, but I think you’ll agree that with it’s rake of blood & custard coaches it does make a fine sight working over a route which did see this class in action during their working lives under British Railways ownership.
Lately No.61306 has changed hands and is now in the charge of the A1 Locomotive Trust and is based on the North Norfolk Railway, another area of the country were this class saw active duty with British Railways.