Train spotters gathered in excitement this morning as the 1950s steam train the Mayflower passed through Essex.

Operated by Steam Dreams Rail Company, the Mayflower set off on its scenic trip from Southend East station this morning.

It then made its way through Thurrock to Rainham, Barking and Stratford before joining the preserved heritage line - the Bluebell Railway.

Dozens of steam train enthusiasts caught the impressive sight on camera.

The 1306 Mayflower is one of two surviving B1 Class locomotives originally built for the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER).

When in full use, the B1’s were mixed traffic locomotives designed for passenger and freight traffic.

Credit: Rob Lay

With design and construction taking place in wartime conditions, the LNER’s desire was to keep the design simple for maintenance, construction and standardisation. As powerful, go anywhere engines, the B1’s were well travelled across the whole of the UK rail network from East Anglia to Scotland.

Mayflower was built in 1948 by the North British Locomotive Company in Glasgow but was delivered post-nationalisation and acquired the number of 61306 by British Railways. She was first allocated to Hull Botanic Gardens Depot, Kingston upon Hull.

After a spell at Hull Dairycoates Depot, she was finally transferred to Low Moor Depot, Bradford, from where it was withdrawn in September 1967.

Chairman of Steam Dreams, David Buck said: “Passengers enjoyed a real treat on this fabulous trip.

"It is the first of its kind for us and we are very excited to be running it with this fantastic locomotive, which is from the same design stable as the famous Flying Scotsman.”