2.7.09

Flying Friday July 3, 2009.



Today, July 3 is the anniversary of that day in 1938 when the world speed record for a steam railway locomotive was set in England, by the Mallard, which reached a speed of 126 mph.(203 km/h). The designer grew up in Derbyshire, so the Derbyshire flag will fly.

The Derbyshire flag came about as a result of a feature on BBC Radio Derby in 2006. The flag, was unveiled on 22 September 2006.


Number 4468 Mallard is a London and North Eastern Railway Class A4 4-6-2 Pacific steam locomotive built at Doncaster, England in 1938. While in other respects a relatively typical member of its class, it is historically significant for being the holder of the world speed record for steam locomotives.

Mallard was designed by Sir Nigel Gresley as an express locomotive specially built to power high-speed streamlined trains. Its wind-tunnel-tested, aerodynamic body allowed it to reach speeds of over 100 mph (160 km/h). Mallard was in service until 1963, when it was retired, having covered almost one and a half million miles (2.4 million km).

Sir Herbert Nigel Gresley (19 June 1876 – 5 April 1941)


Gresley was born on 19th June 1876, the fifth child of the rector of Netherseal (present day Derbyshire), the Reverend Nigel Gresley.

He was raised in Netherseal, Derbyshire, a member of a family long seated at Gresley, Derbyshire. After attending school in Sussex and at Marlborough College, Gresley served his apprenticeship at the Crewe works of the London and North Western Railway, afterwards becoming a pupil under John Aspinall at Horwich of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway (L&YR). After several minor appointments with the L&YR he was made Outdoor Assistant in the Carriage and Wagon Department in 1901; in 1902 he was appointed Assistant Works Manager at Newton Heath depot, and Works Manager the following year.

This rapid rise in his career was maintained, for in 1904 he became Assistant Superintendent of the Carriage and Wagon Department of the L&YR. A year later he moved to the Great Northern Railway (GNR) as Carriage and Wagon Superintendent. He succeeded Henry A. Ivatt as CME of the GNR on 1 October 1911. At the 1923 Grouping he was appointed CME of the newly-formed LNER (the post had originally been offered to the ageing John G. Robinson; Robinson declined and suggested the much younger Gresley), and in 1936 he was awarded a knighthood by King Edward VIII and an honorary DSc by Manchester University. During the 1930s Sir Nigel Gresley lived at Salisbury Hall, near St. Albans in Hertfordshire. In the moat Gresley developed an interest in breeding wild birds and ducks, intrigingly amongst the species were Mallard ducks! The Hall still exists today as the home of the de Havilland Aircraft Heritage Centre.

In 1936 Gresley designed the 1500V DC locomotives for the proposed electrification of the Woodhead Line, which ran through north Derbyshire, between Manchester and Sheffield.


Gresley died after a short illness on 5 April 1941 and was buried in Netherseal, Derbyshire.


The LNER Class A3 Pacific locomotive no. 4472 "Flying Scotsman" (originally no. 1472) was built in 1923 for the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) at Doncaster Works to a design of H.N. Gresley.





Finally.............

.............you would be wrong if you thought I did not look after my childhood Hornby 00 train set, circa 1958, with its own A4 4-6-2 Pacific loco, which still runs a dream, operated here by my daughter Fiona.



Post Script

The following letter appeared in The Times (London) on July 4, coincidentally: