Paul Barlow & Clive Smith
N.B. Roger reported from Redruh at 21.30 that he was feeling exhausted - no wonder!
is not all it seems.
It is believed that Laira diesel depot held its first Open Day on Saturday 26 September 1970 some 8 years after the depot opened for business and it may have happened that year because of celebrations connected with the sailing of the Pilgrim Fathers 350 years earlier in the Mayflower. There was a train from Plymouth to London called The Mayflower from 1957 to 1965, with the name resurrected for the winter of 1970-71 only.
The star of the 1970 Open Day was small prairie number 4555 which was brought down from the Dart Valley for the event. This loco was quite appropriate because it had been based at Laira steam shed from May 1962 to November 1963 when it was withdrawn and sold into preservation the following year. While based at Laira 4555 had seen regular employment on the Plymouth to Launceston Branch until the line closed at the end of 1962. 4555 will celebrate its hundredth birthday in 2024. Many of the events planned for the Mayflower 400 celebrations in 2020 have had to be postponed because of the Covid pandemic