B1 Mayflower and Black Five steam locomotives wow the crowds as they pull into Portsmouth Harbour

A TRAIN pulling into the station isn't usually something to make a song and dance about.

Thursday, 18th July 2019, 1:25 pm
Updated Sunday, 21st July 2019, 5:48 pm

But to the amazement of bystanders at Portsmouth Harbour on Saturday, it was – as Morris dancers serenaded the arrival of the B1 Class 61306 Mayflower steam locomotive.

The 1948-built machine operated by Steam Dreams dropped off scores of paying day-trippers en route to the Isle of Wight.

It pulled into platform five just after 11.45am, where it was met by a crowd of trainspotters whipping out cameras and smartphones.

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Steam engine the B1 Mayflower leaves Portsmouth Harbour station. Picture: Vernon Nash (200719-010)

Jeni Goddard, foreman of the Mayflower Morris team from Ash Vale, near Farnborough, helped command a dance to mark the arrival.

‘To me this means a lot because I’m a very keen steam train enthusiast,' she said.

‘A few other members of the team also are, so we love our steam trains almost as much as we love our Morris dancing.

‘To meet the steam train we share our name with is very special.’

Black Five lets off steam as it leaves Portsmouth Harbour. Picture: Vernon Nash (200719-009)

The Mayflower’s arrival in Portsmouth came after an extensive renovation following its acquisition by Steam Dreams in 2014.

As smoke from its chimney billowed over the platform, Portsmouth resident Kenneth Broughton said it brought back sweet memories.

‘Steam trains are something from my era and you don't see them very much anymore,’ the 80-year-old said.

‘It takes me right back to my childhood and it's wonderful to see there's still people putting up their time to maintain these engines.

Mayflower Morris dancer Emma Purvey with namesake engine the B1 Class Mayflower. Picture: Vernon Nash (200719-003)

‘Even the smell of steam and smoke is nostalgic – and it’s nice to see a train run on time.’

Based in Albury, Surrey, Steam Dreams enables more than 19,000 passengers to board steam locomotives every year.

For Geoff Cook from Maidenhead, taking a ride on the Mayflower on Saturday was a blast from the past.

The 79-year-old drove the first Cathedrals Express to Waterloo.

Mayflower's fireman Chris Birmingham and driver Andy Hawkins. Picture: Vernon Nash (200719-004)

He said: ‘There were only a few drivers left and most of them failed through eyesight or hearing, but I was lucky enough to make 65. On Saturday’s journey, he added: ‘It’s brilliant – but it's a bit of a busman’s holiday for me.’

The steam locomotive Black Five was also at the station.