B1 Bongo, suited and booted

To the Ian Allen types they were ‘Antelopes’ or ‘Springboks’ (as the prototype 8310 was named in honour of Jan Smuts). Eventually the antelope names were running short, and number 8306 was ‘Bongo’ — and so, to railwaymen, they all became ‘Bongoes’

And that charming chap (making assumptions about gender), left, is an Eastern Bongo.

Which brings us circuitously to Malcolm’s point.

Steaming along

Malcolm has been on an odd steam excursion, out of London and to some suitable cathedral city. Without exception it provides an pleasurable, entertaining, nostalgic — if expensive — day out.

Judging from the number of cameras and pointed fingers along the line, the spectacle seems to provide something as well for the populaces through which the train passes.

And then Malcolm hit on this photograph, which prompted the headline here:

The caption tells us that is at Colchester. As Malcolm recalls, steam excursions pull into the south side platform at Colchester where the water in the tender is replenished by the local fire brigade — a double spectacle, which could explain the enthusiastic gallery. In regular service, particularly on nationalised British Rail, locos were rarely so immaculate.

You won’t be able to do the trip behind B1 61264 for the time being, for it is currently being given a ten-year service at Crewe. The last Malcolm heard was that a return to steam was delayed by the late delivery of boiler-tubes from Germany. After that, the loco is booked for the North Yorkshire Moors Railway (of which more elsewhere, perhaps).


What intrigues Malcolm about the photograph above is its appropriateness. The B1s did sterling service on the East Anglian routes, before the arrival of the Britannia Pacifics, and so Malcolm would have heard, smelled and ridden behind them. The shed code, 30F, on the front of the boiler shows that 61264 worked out of Parkeston Quay, which leads to a further moment from yesteryear:

No: Parkeston Quay was never that romantic, that scenic. Even in 1937, which is Malcolm Root‘s depicted date. Particularly when the advertised next leg, to Vliessingen, would be by the Zeeland Steamship Company‘s Prinses Juliana (built 192o to replace its namesake lost in 1916), Oranje Nassau (ditto, rebuilt 1922) or Mecklenburg (heaven help you, built 1909, and — by all accounts — a nasty little tub on a less-than-perfect day).

B12 LNER 8572 survives: it operates, restored to that decent LNER green, on the North Norfolk Railway, The Poppy Line.

Ironically, 8572, later BR  61572, was commonly found on the Norwich-Liverpool Street run, which is what 61264 is claiming with The Broadsman plate. By the time no-longer-fledgeling Malcolm was a semi-regular on that route, the haulage was by Britannia 4-6-2 Pacifics, and the timing down to 2½ hours.


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Filed under History, London, Norfolk, railways, travel

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