Mallard steam locomotive to return to Grantham

Mallard at Barkston Junction before record run on 3rd July 1938 Mallard set off on its record run from Barkston Junction, north of Grantham
Crew of the Mallard after the record run on 3rd July 1938 The record speed of 126 mph has not been broken by a steam locomotive since
Mallard at National Railway Museum in York Mallard is normally kept at the National Railway Museum in York

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The world's fastest ever steam locomotive is to return to the district where it broke the record.

Mallard reached a top speed of 126mph (203km/h) after passing through Grantham, Lincolnshire, on 3 July 1938.

The locomotive will be displayed near Grantham station on 7 and 8 September, as part of the 75th anniversary celebrations of the record being set.

It is normally kept at the National Railway Museum in York, and has not been in Grantham for 50 years.

Locomotive enthusiast Henry Cleary, who has been involved in organising the celebrations, said Mallard was a "national icon".

The day the record was set

Locomotive enthusiast Henry Cleary describes how Mallard reached 126 mph on 3 July, 1938

It was kept fairly hush-hush because it was set up as a test run for braking systems. The train left King's Cross in the morning and ran to just north of Grantham, to a place called Barkston Junction.

It's a triangle of track which allows you to turn the train around. That's why it went to Barkston.

So they started just north of Grantham and came back down to Grantham. They were hoping to build up speed at Grantham but they had to go slow because of some works being done on the track, which nobody expected. That meant they had to push it rather harder than expected beyond Grantham station.

Had they not had to brake going through Grantham it's just possible they might have done a bit better.

At the time they claimed 125 (mph) and it was later on, after people did some very detailed work on the exact measurements, that they decided it was actually 126 for about a quarter of a mile.

"It's still the world record and it will never be broken," he said. "It was the pinnacle of the express steam locomotive. It obviously looks very good. It looks beautiful."

No longer 'steamable'

Mallard was last in Grantham in 1963, the year it was withdrawn from express service.

It can still travel on track but is no longer "steamable", meaning it cannot travel under its own steam.

Instead, another locomotive will need to pull Mallard to Grantham along the East Coast Main Line.

It broke the record on the same line, just south of Grantham on a stretch called Stoke Bank.

The two-day event has been organised by a partnership which includes South Kesteven District Council and Lincolnshire County Council.

Lincolnshire County Council hopes the event will encourage businesses to "consider having a future in the town".

South Kesteven District Council said it will underline "Grantham's brilliant location on the UK's fastest north-south rail route".

Visitors will also be able to view a Deltic locomotive - Mallard's high speed diesel successor - and streamlined 1930s racing cars inspired by the Mallard design.

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