MALLARD RECORD

Mallard at National Railway Museum York

Mallard at National Railway Museum York

75 years ago today, Mallard set a new record. The A4 Class steam locomotives broke the world speed record for steam on July 3rd 1938 by travelling at 126mph (203km/h) at Stoke Bank near Grantham in Lincolnshire. To mark the occasion a special “Gathering” of the six surviving engines in the class has been organised by the National Railway Museum in York which I visited last month. It’s the first time the six surviving engines, Dwight D Eisenhower, Mallard, Bittern, Union of South Africa, Dominion of Canada and Sir Nigel Gresley  have been seen together.

Dwight D Eisenhower at York in traditional BR green livery

Dwight D Eisenhower at York in traditional BR green livery

It was a huge undertaking for the organisers. with Dwight D Eisenhower and Dominion of Canada having to be shipped from North America for the event. Bittern travelled from London King’s Cross under its own steam on Saturday in a 90mph (145km/h) run up the East Coast Mainline to York. Mallard ran on the East Coast Mainline from the 1930s to the 1960s and on the historic day in 1938 was driven by the late Joe Duddington from Doncaster.

Mallard

Mallard

The A4 Class was designed by Sir Nigel Gresley, who also created the Flying Scotsman. Mallard was thought to have been chosen for the record-breaking run because it was one of the newest locomotives and Sir Nigel wanted to test its new performance exhaust. The locomotive broke down soon after it reached the top speed and was brought back to the workshop to have a bearing replaced.

Mallard

Mallard

A golden plaque on the side of Mallard reads: “On July 3rd 1938 this locomotive attained a world speed record for steam traction of 126 miles per hour.”

British Rail’s modernisation plan began sweeping steam away in 1955 and Mallard was withdrawn from service in 1963. The engine was restored by the National Railway Museum in the mid-1980s.

Visiting Mallard at NRM York

Visiting Mallard at NRM York

YORK RAILWAY MUSEUM

Mallard at NRM York

Mallard at NRM York

Saw Mallard at the National Railway Museum in York. A steam engine I remember from my youth, though its record-breaking run was in 1938. On 3rd July 1938, the A4 class locomotive designed by Sir Nigel Gresley raced down Stoke Bank at 126mph to set a new steam locomotive world speed record, which still stands. This year the Museum is marking the 75th anniversary of Mallard’s achievement with a series of commemorative events, including three special opportunities to see the record breaker united with its five surviving sister locomotives: a family reunion on an international scale. Only six of the 35 A4 locomotives built survive and two of them have been temporarily repatriated from their home museums in Canada and the US. At the moment, visitors can see the cosmetically restored Dwight D Eisenhower and Dominion of Canada alongside Mallard in the Great Hall at York.

The Museum does not charge for admission and its future is according to The Press in York under threat because of budget cutbacks in the Science Museum Group. Over the weekend, a rally was held at the Museum to keep it open. So please do what you can to support this important part of our industrial heritage, begun by George Stephenson and his “Rocket”. The Museum is currently in the process of restoring The Flying Scotsman and it is hoped to have it back on the rails hauling heritage steam trips in 2015.