Friday, 17 June 2011

Class 90 locomotive naming ceremony

NXEA Class 90 locomotive named after Bressingham
As part of a programme of events to celebrate Bressingham's Fiftieth Anniversary, National Express East Anglia (NXEA) agreed to name one of their Class 90 electric locomotives used on the London to Norwich line Bressingham Steam & Gardens.

I received my invitation about four weeks ago and was quite surprised — I already knew that the ceremony was taking place in June, but didn't think for one moment that I would be a part of it. I felt very privileged to have been invited and it was with great alacrity that I accepted and I've been anxiously counting down the days for the past four weeks.

No. 90010 at platform 10 ready for the naming ceremony
My day started at 05:00 as I had to be at Diss station (approximately an hour's drive for me) in order to meet up with several other invitees and catch the 07:08 Intercity service to London Liverpool Street. Shortly after leaving Diss we were informed that there were approximately ten minute delays due to a road vehicle striking a railway bridge north of Ipswich — not such a good start then. After another short delay coming into the Stratford area we pulled into Liverpool Street shortly after 09:00, around twenty minutes late.

We met up with the other guests at Ponti's function room (conveniently overlooking platform ten where the ceremony was to be held) for breakfast. Shortly after a glass of orange juice and a pastry I noticed that our locomotive was pulling in and made my way down to the platform to try and secure a spot amongst the press, film crew and other photographers. My remit was to get some photographs of the event for Bressingham.

Peter Seabrook (L) & Adrian Bloom (R) prepare to unveil the nameplate

After short speeches from Mark Phillips (Deputy Managing Director, NXEA) and Chris Leah (Chairman of Trustees, Bressingham), Peter Seabrook (gardening writer and broadcaster) said a few words and unveiled the new nameplate.

No. 90010 is officially named Bressingham Steam & Gardens

To commemorate the event, a mounted replica nameplate was presented to Bressingham for display at the museum.

Replica nameplate which will be on display at the museum

Peter Seabrook and Adrian Bloom pose for the cameras

Howard Stephens, General Manager Bressingham

Chris Leah, Chairman of Trustees and Vanda Braithwaite, wife of the late Bevan Braithwaite, former chairman

Howards Stephens, Chris Leah and fellow volunteer David Shawcross
Once the round of publicity shots with various dignitaries was over we boarded our reserved first class carriage on No. 90010 Bressingham Steam & Gardens to head to Diss for another series of publicity photographs.

Although Diss railway station is close by, it's still nearly four miles from Bressingham and it is hoped that a shuttle bus service can shortly be organised to collect and return visitors arriving by train as there is no public bus service. On that note, the guests are transferred by coach to Bressingham for the second half of the day's programme, whilst I collect my car and drive the short distance.

Mark Phillips, Adrian Bloom, Chris Leah & Peter Seabrook pose for photographers at Diss station

After a buffet lunch, guests were given tours of both the steam museum and the gardens. Sadly the dark grey clouds which had been threatening rain made good on their promise and it was a case of dodging the showers all afternoon.

Adrian Bloom shows guests around the gardens created by his father

Something that I am acutely aware of is the total lack of any photographs showing the wonderful gardens on this blog. Although I visit Bressingham often, both as a volunteer and to spend family time, I rarely seem to find time to wander round the gardens and enjoy them. Let me make a start on putting this right!

Summer house in the Dell Garden

There are plenty of seats from which to soak up the views

The gardens are a riot of colour at this time of year — today's cloud and showers actually make for better photographs as the lower contrast really brings out the colours

This Astibile is a wonderful specimen

I will try to make a better effort to visit the gardens as they change over the seasons.

I would like to thank National Express East Anglia for providing me with first class travel between Diss and London, and to Howard Stephens for inviting me along to a very special day. Here's to Bressingham's Diamond Anniversary in 2021!


  1. Hey that looked fabulous. It's a while since I saw Peter Seabrook - years ago on Gardeners' World I guess.
    Anyway James, I hope everyone enjoys your fantastic photographs from the day. They look really professional and the engine looked immaculate on the day. By the way, did you have antimacassars in first class? Lucky you!

  2. Antimacassars - now there's an unusual word, and yes, first class does still have them.


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