This week the National Railway Museum marked the two month to go point to the nation’s celebration of the 75th anniversary of the A4 Pacific Class Mallard breaking the world steam speed record by assembling more than 30 blue A4s in the museum’s Great Hall.
The countdown which has reached 61 days (and two calendar months) to go until July the third’s Great Gathering can be viewed on the Museum’s Mallard 75 webpage and is supported by daily Mallard-themed social media updates. Museum staff created the number two from over 30 sheets of garter blue A4 paper on the floor of the museum’s Great Hall which could be viewed from above at the top of Percy Main Bridge.
Mallard, the world’s fastest steam locomotive was just one of a fleet of 35 A4 class locomotives, the glamorous streamlined ‘racehorses’ of Britain’s railway. From the thirties to the sixties, Mallard and its sisters hauled express trains on the East Coast Main Line including the luxury Silver Jubilee train from the capital to the North.
Yorkshire, the county where Mallard was built, is especially counting down the days until the nation marks the milestone moment in global history when Mallard became the world’s fastest steam locomotive for all time.
Gary Verity, chief executive of the Welcome to Yorkshire tourism agency, said: "It's a proud achievement to have Yorkshire at the very heart of this British engineering milestone and of course the long-standing world record. The fact it was both built and resides in the county is fantastic and Yorkshire will be the focus of national and global attention in this anniversary year. I'm sure many people will be joining the excellent National Railway Museum in counting down the days to the big anniversary."
The city of York where the centrepiece of the celebrations will be held, is also counting down the number of days until the Museum’s Great Gathering - a spectacular fortnight-long international family reunion in July which will fulfil the dreams of rail fans across the globe
Gillian Cruddas MBE, Chief Executive of Visit York said: It’s fantastic that people from all over the world, including the US, Canada and Australia will be travelling to York to witness Mallard join its sisters and celebrate this milestone event with the National Railway Museum. As a national icon, Mallard draws huge numbers of visitors to the NRM and the city, and this year’s celebrations will give an added draw for new visitors to York, and for our return visitors to come again.’
HRH, The Prince of Wales is Patron of Mallard 75, the museum’s spectacular season of events and activities in 2013/14 marking 75 years since Mallard broke the world steam speed record.
Anthony Coulls, Senior Curator of Railway Vehicles at the National Railway Museum said: “We’re so excited about showcasing all six survivors of the A4 class with the Great Gathering and Royal Patronage for our year of Mallard-themed events is the icing on the cake. Celebrating Mallard’s world record-breaking run is definitely a reason to get excited in July and we hope people will join us to counting down to this milestone in railway history, either by visiting the website or following its progress via social media.”
On 3 July the calendar anniversary of Mallard’s record breaking run, Mallard and her five surviving sister A4 Pacific Class locomotives will be gathered together around the Great Hall turntable in the National Railway Museum in York - a sight never seen before. Two of the Doncaster-built locomotives, Dominion of Canada and Dwight D Eisenhower have been temporarily repatriated from North America to take part in the anniversary celebrations of Mallard securing the world speed crown for all time.
Preparations for the anniversary are on track with the restoration work on Mallard and Dwight D Eisenhower complete and a Mallard-style makeover is well underway on Dominion of Canada in the workshop of Locomotion, the National Railway Museum at Shildon, Co Durham where visitors can view the workshop team get to grips with the cosmetic restoration work.
On 3 July 1938 Mallard became the world’s fastest steam locomotive, marking a pinnacle in British engineering design. The steam legend was recorded as reaching the awe-inspiring speed of 126mph on the East Coast Main Line, breaking the existing German record of 124 mph set in 1936.
No 4468 Mallard built at LNER’s Doncaster Works was chosen for the latest attempt on the world steam speed crown because it was the first of the class to be fitted with a double chimney. Due to the subsequent evolution of diesel traction and the outbreak of the Second World War, Mallard’s record still stands as a marker in global history and to this day inspires a sense of National pride that a British steam locomotive is still recognised as the fastest in the world.
The ‘Great Gathering’ of Mallard and its sisters takes place 3 July – 17 July at the National Railway Museum in York. To view the countdown and for more information on the National Railway Museum’s 75th anniversary plans for 2013/2014 including how to book tickets for gala dinners, photography events and free curator talks visit nrm.org.uk/mallard75. The countdown can also be viewed at http://www.visityork.org/seeanddo/. For regular updates follow the museum on twitter.com/railwaymuseum or join facebook.com/nationalrailwaymuseum.
• Dominion of Canada is currently being repainted at Locomotion;the National railway Museum at Shildon from British Railways Green livery into its 1937 as-new form – Garter Blue, with a valanced single chimney, complete with Canadian bell and chime whistle, and replica cabside crests featuring the Royal Coat of Arms of Canada
• Thanks go to Moveright International, Ceres, Peel Ports, ACL, Life Environmental and CNR for their generous support in the repatriation of Dominion of Canada and Dwight D Eisenhower.
• Ripon-based firm T&R Williamson has provided the paint for all the Mallard sisters’ makeovers.
• The Friends of the National Railway Museum officially announced a £50k donation towards the cosmetic overhaul of the A4 locomotives repatriated from North America in January.
• Sir Nigel Gresley, also the designer of locomotive legend Flying Scotsman, designed the A4 class of streamlined locomotives for running at sustained speeds of more than 100 mph.
• A4 No. 60010 Dominion of Canada was built at Doncaster works in 1937. The locomotive was initially allocated the name of Buzzard but emerged from the works as ‘Woodcock’ and carried this name from 4th to the 17th May 37 before being repainted and renamed Dominion of Canada in June 1937. Dominion of Canada was withdrawn at Darlington shed on May 29, 1965. On July 5, 1965, the locomotive was marked in Darlington's records as 'for sale to be scrapped'. After 60010 was condemned, it was left derelict and forgotten for many months until finally being moved to Crewe Works for cosmetic restoration and shipping to Canada. 60010 was donated to the Canadian Railroad Historical Association (CRHA) by British Rail and since May 1966, 60010 has been preserved by the CRHA.
• A4 No 60008 Dwight D. Eisenhower was built for the London and North Eastern Railway in 1937. The locomotive was originally numbered 4496 and named Golden Shuttle. It was renamed Dwight. D. Eisenhower after the Second World War and renumbered 8 on 23 November 1946. It became No. 60008 on 29 October 1948 under British Railways. The locomotive was cosmetically restored at Doncaster Works in 1963 and was shipped to the USA the following spring, arriving in New York harbour on 11 May 1964, from where it was shipped by rail to the Museum.
• The National Railway Museum in York has the largest collection of railway objects in the world and attracts over 700,000 visitors per year.
• The National Railway Museum’s collection includes over 300 locomotives and rolling stock, 628 coins and medals, 4899 pieces of railway uniform and costume, railway equipment, documents, records, artwork and railway related photographs.
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• The National Railway Museum houses a world class collection of Royal trains, which includes a collection of Royal carriages, from those used by Queen Victoria to Queen Elizabeth II.
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