Most of us have heard of the famous Flying Scotsman, celebrated ‘Cock O’ the North’ and the record breaking Mallard, but how many people know of the engineer behind Britain’s most famous steam engines?
Born in Edinburgh and raised in Derbyshire, Sir Herbert Nigel Gresley quickly rose from working as an apprentice at the Crewe Works under F. W. Webb to become The London and North Eastern Railway’s first Chief Mechanical Engineer.
He paid extraordinary attention to railway service demands and awareness of locomotive design development, selecting a ‘Big Engine Policy’ for the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) and observing the effect of wind resistance on train performance.
The Flying Scotsman Class A3 locomotive was built in 1923 to be employed on long-distance journeys. Notably it’s now broken two world records for steam traction officially reaching 100 mph on 30th November 1934 and then setting a record for the longest non-stop run by a steam locomotive, running 422 miles on 8th August 1989 while in Australia.
The Gresley Class P2 No 2001 ‘Cock O’ the North’ was completed in 1934 at the LNER Doncaster Works and was the most powerful express steam passenger locomotive ever built for a British Railway.
The A4 Pacific-type demonstrated an aerodynamic design never built before, and in 1938 one train of this type – The Mallard set a world speed record of 126 mph.
This month, it was announced that there are plans to unveil a statue at King’s Cross Station for Sir Gresley. It will stand a proud seven feet tall in the station’s Western Concourse, near to the West Offices where Sir Nigel worked until the outbreak of war. This memorial will be constructed in cast-bronze by sculptor Hazel Reeves, holding a copy of The Locomotive magazine and accompanied by a mallard – the symbol of his world famous speedy locomotive.
The statue will be unveiled on the 6th April 2016 – marking the 75th anniversary of his death.References: http://www.lner.info/eng/gresley.shtml, http://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/heritage/sir-nigel-gresley-statue-planned-for-king-s-cross-1-3592602 and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LNER_Class_A3_4472_Flying_Scotsman in addition to the Grace’s Guide pages.