Tag Archives: Sir Nigel Gresley

Steam Locomotives of a Leisurely Era 1941 – Gresley Lightweight 2-6-2 – London & North Eastern Railway

Steam Locomotives of a Leisurely Era
1941 – Gresley Lightweight 2-6-2
London & North Eastern Railway

No.61701 as running in 1950

No.61701 as running in 1950

This was Sir Nigel Gresley’s last design, and consisted of two engines only, No.3401 ‘Bantam Cock’ and No.3402, unofficially known as ‘Bantam Hen’, although it never actually bore the name.
They were intended to become the prototypes of a new standard class of lighter general purpose engine to replace the aging ‘Atlantics’ and other types from the former GNR, GCR and the rest of the various LNER constituent companies, but owing to Sir Nigel’s untimely death no more were built. E.Thompson, who succeeded him, had different ideas on the subject, and introduced his B1 4-6-0 mixed traffic class for the same purpose. The two Gresley engines spent most of their time in Scotland, mainly on the West Highland lines, but as a non-standard class both were withdrawn in 1957. In 1946 they had become Nos.1700 and 1701, and later BR Nos. 61700-1.
Driving wheels – 5’ 8”, Cylinders (3) – 15”x 26”, Pressure – 250 lb., Tractive effort – 27420 lb., Weight – 70 tons 8 cwt., LNER classification – V4, BR classification – 4MT

Bantam Hen

Steam Locomotives of a Leisurely Era – 1935 A4 Pacifics London & North Eastern Railway

Steam Locomotives of a Leisurely Era
1935 A4 Pacifics
London & North Eastern Railway


'Mallard' as originally built

‘Mallard’ as originally built

When the question of providing a high-speed service between London and Newcastle in the early 1930s was being mooted, the question of utilising a diesel-electric train was at one time seriously considered, but as this would have given neither the desired standard of comfort nor the required speed, the idea was dropped. It was decided to use conventional type of rolling stock with steam propulsion and a certain amount of streamlining to reduce wind pressure at the high speeds contemplated, as Sir Nigel Gresley assured the directors that he could produce an engine and train which would amply cover the requirements. His ‘Silver Link’, which appeared in 1935, was in effect an improved version of his already successful ‘Pacific’ design, but greatly altered in appearance. The now familiar wedge-shaped streamline casing was certainly startling at the time.
The first four engines, Nos.2509-12, soon showed themselves fully capable of doing all that was required, and in 1937 further examples were built for working the even more ambitious high speed non-stop ’Coronation’ between London and Edinburgh. Eventually the class consisted of 35 engines, Nos.2509-12, 4462-9, 4482-4500 and 4900-3. No.4498 was named ‘Sir Nigel Gresley’ after its designer.

Sir Nigel Gresley at Bridgnorth

Sir Nigel Gresley at Bridgnorth

The exploits of these remarkable engines is comparatively recent history and needs no repetition here, but the 126 mph speed attained by No.4468 ‘Mallard’ in July 1938 remains to this day a world record for steam which can be substantiated. A claim of 127 mph by a Pennsylvania ‘Atlantic’ in 1905 seems to have been based upon somewhat flimsy evidence and can hardly be accepted.

Union of South Africa - Shildon 2014

Union of South Africa – Shildon 2014

No.4469 was destroyed at York in 1842 in an air raid, but the remainder were renumbered 1-34 in 1946 although not in chronological order. They duly became BR 60001-34 and were still in service in 1959. In recent years the valances over the driving wheels have been cut away to give easier access to the motion, and most of them have now Kylchap blast pipes and double chimneys, which were originally fitted to Nos.4468 and 4901-3.

Sir Nigel Gresley leaving Highley

Sir Nigel Gresley leaving Highley

Driving wheels – 6’ 8”, Cylinders (3) – 18½”x 26”, Pressure – 250 lb., Tractive effort – 35455 lb., Weight – 103 tons, LNER classification – A4, BR classification – 8P6F

Mallard at Shildon - 2014

Mallard at Shildon – 2014

Steam Locomotives of a More Leisurely Era – 1922 –‘Pacifics’ North Eastern Railway

Steam Locomotives of a More Leisurely Era

1922 –‘Pacifics’

North Eastern RailwayNo. 2400, as first built, running trials from King' Crosss

No. 2400, as first built, running trials from King’ Cross

This was Sir Vincent Raven’s last design for the NER, and the first engine, No. 2400, came out only just before the grouping.

No. 2401 followed early in 1923, and three more, Nos. 2402-4, were built in 1924.  These differed from the first two in having outside bearings to the trailing wheels.  All were subsequently named after cities, No. 2400 ‘City of Newcastle’, etc.  Like the Atlantics which preceded them, the three cylinders were all in line and drove the front coupled axle.  The very long boilers resulted in the engines being nicknamed ‘Skittle Alleys’.

The engines were never very brilliant in performance, more might have been made of them, but they were eclipsed from the start by the superiority of Gresley’s contemporary Great Northern engines, so that they never really had very much chance.  Owing to the grouping there was no real need for two different varieties of ‘Pacific’ for the LNER main lines, and Gresley’s own design was the obvious choice from the start.

No. 2404 was fitted with a Gresley boiler in 1929, and in 1934 the engines were provided with 8-wheeled tenders.  All were taken out of service in 1936 and 1937.

Driving wheels – 6’ 8”,  Cylinders (3) – 19”x  26”,  Pressure – 200 lb.,  Weight 97 tons

Events – The Great Goodbye – Gresley A4s, NRM Shildon


Final preparations for the Great Goodbye

In Shildon from 15-23 February 2014

We’re just over a week away from the final event of the Mallard 75 series. Looking back over everything that’s happened, it’s truly been an amazing time with so many people showing their love for the world’s fastest steam loco. For an overview of the past few months see our latest blog, but here at the museum we’ve been busy looking fowards and preparing for the next event. The two repatriated A4s left our museum last week to make a special appearance at Barrow Hill, before heading up to Shildon to meet their sister locos. Meanwhile Mallard and Union of South Africa were waiting in the wings getting ready for their own journey to the Great Goodbye. Yesterday Mallard returned to the East Coast Main Line behind the operational engine Union of South Africa as you can see in this video. Together they made the trip to Shildon, and in doing so made some fantastic photos which can be seen here. With the arrival of the two other operational locos next week, Bittern and Sir Nigel Gresley, we’ll once again have all six surviving Gresley A4s together – most likely for the last ever time. For full details of everything we have planned check the website.

Find out more

Get ready for the final gathering

We’ve made our preparations, have you? The next seven days will be your last chance to book your place at the special extra events that guarantee to make the Great Goodbye a once-in-a-lifetime experience. With all the special photography events now sold out your final chance to snap the A4s up close and without the crowds is at our Gala Dinner. The engines will be floodlit with plenty of time to make sure you get the perfect shot. Afterwards you can enjoy a sumptuous dinner in the museum’s Collection Building and say goodbye to the A4s in style. There will also be a unique preview of ‘Steamsong’, a multimedia opera inspired by the story of the A4s including a blend of live performance and archive footage. There are also a few places left to attend the series of Curator Talks, offering a fascinating insight into the celebrations from our team of experts. Don’t worry about planning your journey either as our friends at Northern Rail have arranged for extra services to deal with the increased demand.

Make the Great Goodbye a special farewell

Forthcoming Attractions – National Railway Museum The Great Gathering 3 – 17 July

National Railway Museum

The Great Gathering

3 – 17 July

2013_06130029  We’re nearly a week away from the start of our Mallard 75 celebrations as the nation prepares to mark Mallard’s world steam speed record. The support for this event has been absolutely amazing with people sharing images, poems and even songs dedicated to the world’s fastest ever steam loco. Two out of six A4 locos are on display in our Great Hall whilst a further three wait in the wings. Sir Nigel Gresley and Union of South Africa have both arrived at our museum and sit in our North Yard as they are prepared for display around our Turntable. The star of the show, Mallard, is also out of view being prepared for its grand entrance next Wednesday. As well as the chance to see all of Gresley’s surviving A4s make sure you book your place onto one of our curator talks. These will be free but ticketed events where our team of experts delve deeper into aspects of the Mallard 75 story.

MallardTwo “streaks”

LNER built A4 No. 4496 (BR No. 60008) “Dwight D Eisenhower” sits in the National Railway Museum with sister A4 4458 “Mallard”.   Creative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved] © Copyright TheTurfBurner and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Chasewater Railway Museum May,June 1962 Bits & Pieces 17

Taken from the Mercian May, June 1962 1.3

From the Editorial

Everyone notices, even more so now, that Diesels are rapidly taking over and replacing steam on most trains.  If you are lucky you might chance to see a ‘Scot’ or even an ‘A4’ on a goods or shunting.

While standing on Welwyn Station the other evening Sir Nigel Gresley came thundering out of the tunnel with a south-bound express; a marvellous sight I might add, never to be replaced once the ‘Green Devils’ have fully taken over.  Sir Nigel would turn in his grave and shudder at the thought of his own engine being degraded to trundling goods trucks, let alone shunting them.

I suppose this is almost inevitable under the present modernisation plan, all we can do is wait and see what will happen.


In the event of the following, I think that he would have been immensely proud!Leaving Bridgnorth March 2009 – Photo by Black Widow Productions

In 1937 the London and North Eastern Railway built its 100th ‘Pacific’ locomotive and the Railway honoured its designer by giving the locomotive number 4498 his name, Sir Nigel Gresley.  The locomotive was initially allocated to London Kings Cross ‘Top Shed’ where it returned in the 1950s after a spell at Grantham, by then carrying its British Railways number 60007. In this period it became associated with driver Bill Hoole and in 1959 Sir Nigel Gresley, driven by Hoole, achieved a post war speed record for steam of 112mph. The locomotive finished its British Railways career in Scotland, having run approximately 1,500,000 miles in revenue-earning service over some 30 years. In 1966 the locomotive was saved by a group of determined people, who set up the A4 Preservation Society.  This became the A4 Locomotive Society Ltd, which underwent a further evolution into a registered charity as The Sir Nigel Gresley Locomotive Preservation Trust Ltd.

After its 4th major overhaul in the ownership of the Trust, 60007 is now based at the North Yorkshire Moors Railway and continues to run on the UK main line network from time to time hauling rail tours to locations as diverse as Chester, York, Carlisle, Bristol, London and Dundee.

The Trust is dedicated to keeping the locomotive running, both on heritage railways and on the main line.  She is part of this nation’s history and our aim is to keep the locomotive as living history.  It is only when a locomotive is in steam and in action, truly alive, that you experience the full glory and feel the magic.  Nothing can match the spectacle and magnificence of a great steam engine running at full speed.  That is what the Trust aims to maintain.

The down side is that keeping a big express locomotive in good running order takes a lot of effort.  Sir Nigel Gresley is now over seventy years old.  There always seems to be something wearing out!  Dirty and often very hard work, too – her parts tend to be large, solid chunks of metal, immensely heavy to lift.  On top of the day-to-day repairs and maintenance, the locomotive must have a regular ‘heavy’ overhaul – every seven years if she is to run on Network Rail, extending to a maximum of ten when running on private railways.  The latest heavy overhaul took place at Grosmont on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, at a total cost of around £800,000.  This has included fitting TPWS and OTMR safety systems to meet the latest Network Rail standards.  The Heritage Lottery Fund has supported this overhaul with a very generous grant of £322,000.

Whether operating on heritage railways or in full cry on the main line, she turns heads wherever she goes!

Reproduced with the permission of The Sir Nigel Gresley Locomotive Preservation Trust Ltd.”

Leaving Bridgnorth March 2009, Photo by  Black Widow Productions

Hon. Secretary’s Notes & Report

The West Midland District, Midland Area, acted as hosts on Saturday, 19th May for a full RPS meeting which was held in the TPO at our Hednesford depot.  We were pleased to welcome D. Noel Draycott and David Alexander London District, James Slater North West and John Harvey East Midlands Districts.   The meeting was also attended by some 12 members of the West Midlands.

A general discussion took place, and Society policy agreed upon.  It was agreed that the next Society conference should be held in York on 22nd September 1962 (provisional).

National Officers Elected

National President:                Rev. R. de Lacy-Spencer

General Secretary:                D. Noel Draycott

National Treasurer:                R. T. Yates, F.C.A.

The visitors enjoyed a visit to Chasewater the following day (Sunday), and a general inspection of the Depot in the afternoon.  I should like to thank very sincerely all members (Wives and Mothers) who offered such excellent overnight hospitality to our guests.

Working Parties

Work still continues at a steady pace each Sunday, we should still like to see a few more people attend however.  The Midland Block instruments and bells are now in working order, these were wired up by Peter Dring.  Any other member who is interested in telecommunications should come along to the depot and chat with Peter.

John Elsley and Terry Jones are now attempting to fix the side rode on the Coal Tank, all you loco enthusiasts – now is the chance to offer some practical help!

Work on the TPO still continues, this work is being carried out by Frank Harvey, Nigel Hadlow, George Cox and myself.  Tony Lewis and Bob Wormington continue to press on with repanelling the Maryport & Carlisle coach and are making steady progress.  The Midland horse-drawn van is being slowly renovated by Arthur Chatfield, please give him a helping hand someone?

Brian Kinder and Maurice Harper have made a good job of waterproofing the Great Eastern roof in the vicinity of the stove chimney pipe, Bob Wormington has also worked on the GE brake and painted the roof with bitumastic paint.

David Ives Hon. Sec.

Treasurer’s Report

In my report in the last issue of Mercian I seemed only to complain about the financial state of affairs.  I am afraid this must be the main theme thence in this report too.

(Nearly 50 years on now and nothing seems to have changed!! – but we’re still here!)

East Midlands

Results from our membership campaign have been good during these last few weeks, although the Crewe excursion was not fruitful, I must mention Michael Gubbins and David Webb who made the trip so enjoyable.

The major activity at the moment is the collection of many small relics and various photographic surveys are being completed, notably around Nottinghamshire by P. Gibbons of Southall.

J. M. Harvey.  East Mids. District Organiser.

London District

The London District of the RPS has been renamed The London Railway Preservation Society covering North London and three Home Counties, namely Essex, Hertfordshire and Middlesex.

Social Activities

The trip to Wolverton was very poorly attended, eight members making the effort.  We do hope that this can be improved on for future visits.

Much Wenlock Branch

The last passenger train will run on this line sometime in June.  This branch, as some members will be aware, is a very interesting one.  Please give us your support.

Coaching Stock Preservation Fund

A fund has now been launched to buy coaching stock; this will be published in the general railway press.  Vehicles under consideration are as follows: The Midland Royal Saloon, L & Y Inspectors Saloon, ECJS Bogie coach in original livery.  Other coaches which could be added are: Cambrian Bogie Coach, GWR Clerestory Bogie Coach, and WCJS Bogie Coach.

News in Brief

Our Hednesford Depot and Webb Coal Tank were mentioned on BBC TV’s Railway Roundabout of May 20th (my 19th birthday!! – seems a long time ago!) by John Adams and Patrick Whitehouse who said they might look in on their way up for a game of golf!

It has been officially stated that Paddington Station will not be closed yet!