Mallard's Grantham return: Work under way to welcome record-breaker

Mallard, Mallard crew and Sir Nigel Gresley Mallard is one of only six surviving A4 Class locomotives designed by engineer Sir Nigel Gresley

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Preparations are under way for the return of the world's fastest ever steam locomotive to the place where it set the record.

Mallard broke the world speed record for steam in 1938 at 126mph (203km/h) near Grantham, in Lincolnshire.

The locomotive will return on 7-8 September as part of the free Festival of Speed.

Work is taking place at a disused railway siding, which will be used to accommodate the engine.

'Great British invention'

THE MALLARD

Mallard at National Railway Museum in York
  • Mallard ran on the East Coast Mainline from the 1930s to the 1960s and on the day of the record was driven by the late Joe Duddington, of Doncaster, South Yorkshire.
  • The A4 Class was designed by Sir Nigel Gresley, who was also behind the Flying Scotsman. A total of 35 locomotives were built in Doncaster between 1935 and 1938.
  • Mallard was thought to have been chosen for the record-breaking run because it was one of the newest locomotives. However, soon after it nudged the top speed it broke down and had to go back to the workshop to have a bearing replaced.
  • Mallard still has a golden plaque on its side that reads: "On July 3 1938 this locomotive attained a world speed record for steam traction of 126 miles per hour."

The festival, which marks 75 years since Mallard set the record at Stoke Bank - just south of Grantham, will also feature streamlined racing cars from the 1930s and celebrate the town's engineering heritage.

Project manager Neil Lindley, who is responsible for preparing the site, said: "My grandfather was lucky enough to be a fireman on Mallard.

"I think that era compared to what I do in this day and age is worlds apart, but the thing I love is that the history is still there - and still going strong in the industry."

Visitors will also be able to view a Deltic locomotive - Mallard's high speed diesel successor.

Locomotive enthusiast Henry Cleary, who has been involved in organising the celebrations, said Mallard was a "great British invention".

He said: "This is the fastest steam locomotive in the world.

"Of course, there was a lot of international competition for that title - and we will be telling that story too."

He said speakers from Berlin would be at the festival talking about German efforts to break the record.

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

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