York & North Yorkshire

Fastest steam locomotive Mallard at anniversary gathering

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Media captionThe A4 Class locomotives, including the Doncaster-built record-breaker, Mallard, are being displayed together in York's National Railway Museum

Six steam locomotives have been gathered in York in a "major celebration" to mark the 75th anniversary of a world speed record.

The A4 Class locomotives, including the record-breaker, Mallard, are being displayed together in the city's National Railway Museum.

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

Gathering the engines was a huge undertaking, organisers said.

Anthony Coulls, the museum's senior curator of rail vehicle collections, said: "What we're planning is a major celebration - people will be coming from four corners of the earth."

It is the first time the six surviving engines - Dwight D Eisenhower, Mallard, Bittern, Union of South Africa, Dominion of Canada and Sir Nigel Gresley - have been seen together.

Dwight D Eisenhower and Dominion of Canada have been shipped from North America for the event.

'Icon of style'

Bittern travelled from London King's Cross under its own steam on Saturday in a 90mph (145km/h) run up the East Coast Mainline to York.

Mallard ran on the East Coast Mainline from the 1930s to the 1960s and on the historic day in 1938 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.

Modelled in a wind tunnel, the locomotives are famed for their swooping art deco lines.

Image caption Mallard broke the world speed record for steam on 3 July 1938

Mallard was thought to have been chosen for the record-breaking run because it was one of the newest locomotives and Sir Nigel wanted to test its new performance exhaust.

'Went for it'

Mr Coulls said: "They went to see what they could get out of it and it had a test car on the back, which was noting down all the measurements."

The chance came on Stoke Bank, near Grantham, Lincolnshire, "and they went for it", he said.

Mallard broke down soon after it nudged the top speed and had to go back to the workshop to have a bearing replaced.

The Mallard still has 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."

Mr Coulls said: "Mallard's record was the pinnacle of steam and it was the swansong."

British Rail's 1955 modernisation plan began sweeping steam away, Mallard was withdrawn from service in 1963.

A restoration was carried out by the National Railway Museum in the mid-1980s.

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Media captionTo mark the anniversary of the Mallard steam engine's record-breaking 126mph run, Danny Savage rides in the cab of one of its sister trains

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