Lincolnshire

Thousands welcome Mallard to Grantham, Lincolnshire

Crowds surround Mallard
Image caption The organisers say they hope the festival will help put Grantham on the map

Thousands of people turned out to welcome 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 arrived at Grantham Station on Wednesday, ahead of a weekend-long Festival of Speed.

A special siding was constructed for the event, while steps up to the locomotive allowed people to board it.

'Wonderful engineering heritage'

Organiser Henry Cleary said about 7,000 people had turned out on the first day of the festival - well ahead of the target of 6,000 for the weekend.

"It's an incredible result," he said. "People have been responding to the beauty of the engine, as well as its history.

"We hope the festival will really help put Grantham on the map.

"The town has a wonderful engineering heritage. People are tremendously proud of Sir Nigel Gresley, who designed Mallard, and his achievements."

The festival was organised by a partnership of local authorities and heritage groups.

"What's been fun is that so many locomotive drivers pulling into their station have been sounding their horns as a salute to Mallard," added Mr Cleary.

He added although he would love to repeat the festival, getting Mallard to Grantham may be a "bit of a one-off".

Mallard is normally kept at the National Railway Museum in York.

"It's quite rare to have Mallard leave the museum," said Bob Gwynne, a curator.

"It's one of our most popular exhibits but this was a must-do because it's going to Grantham where, of course, it roared through on that famous day in 1938."

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