The Great Gathering

75 years ago today, the eyes of the world were on the United Kingdom.

LNER A4 4-6-2 4468 ‘Mallard’ broke the world speed record for a steam locomotive, and still holds it to this day.

To celebrate the 75th Anniversary, the National Railway Museum brought together all 6 remaining A4 pacifics.

Here we see the first day, and the volume of people whom clamber to grab a glimpse of this phenomenon.

Also, at the bottom of this blog is a profile of the locomotive itself. In the forthcoming UKHH e-zine, due out next week, we look in-depth at that momentous day when Mallard achieved immortality.






Built in 1938 at Doncaster, LNER works number 1870 was released to traffic on 3rd March 1938. The twenty-eighth of Sir Nigel Gresley’s streamlined A4 pacifics, 4468 was named ‘Mallard’, and received a streamlined non corridor tender (5642) and double kylchap blast pipe from new. The locomotive wore the by then standard LNER garter blue, the same livery she currently wears in preservation but without bare metal fittings. 4468’s first shed was 36A Doncaster shed.

4468 was selected for high speed braking tests in July 1938, due to her age and the beneficial effects provided by her double kylchap blast pipe. On 3rd July Mallard was put into service with an Ex – NER Dynamometer car and the cut down Coronation set, initiating the southbound record run with Joe Duddington on the regulator and Tommy Bray firing. The record Speed of 125.88mph was recorded at milepost 90¼, just South of little Bytham.

4468 received minor repairs at Doncaster after the run, and re-entered regular service operating out of Doncaster. Mallard lost her valances and garter blue livery on a works visit between 02/05/42 and 13/06/42, leaving with a coat of wartime black. The locomotive regained her garter blue livery on 05/03/48, by which time Thompson’s renumbering scheme had come into effect and she gained the number 22. 22 moved to Grantham shed on 21/10/43

22 remained in garter blue and had a number change to E22 on 05/03/48 which included British Railways lettering on the tender sides. The A4 was then used on exchange trials on the Southern region, hence the need to for the ‘E’ (Eastern) prefix. E22 received her record plaque sometime during this period. Mallard had her final shed change on 11/04/48 to 34A Kings Cross top shed. On 16/09/49, BR express passenger blue with early crest was applied and Mallard’s number again changed, this time to 60022. The express passenger blue livery was quickly phased out, with 60022 receiving early crest BR green on 04/07/52

Her long guard irons were removed between 29/04/53 and 08/05/53. Her speed indicator was fitted on another works visit, ending 9th March 1960.

During this period, 60022 received the BR late crest and had a few further boiler changes and her third tender change. Mallard was earmarked for preservation in 1960, and upon withdrawal on 25/4/63, Mallard received non-corridor tender 5670, which was renumbered on 09/05/63 to 5642, emulating Mallard’s original tender.

Mallard was cosmetically restored to 1938 condition, albeit with record plaques and bare metal fittings. She was subsequently dragged in a convoy on 26/02/64 from Doncaster to Nine Elms good depot via the GC for static display in the Clapham transport museum. Upon closure of the Clapham transport museum, 4468 was moved in another convoy on 12/04/75 to York for display in the new National Railway Museum (on the site of shed 50A) which opened to the public in 1975.
After careful consideration and generous funding from Scarborough borough council, Mallard returned to steam during the NRM’s 10th anniversary celebrations on 27th September 1985, with a permit of 26 mainline runs over five years. The first test train to Doncaster works via Scarborough and Hull took place on 25/03/86, with the A4 receiving final adjustments there. Mallard then became a semi – regular on the Scarborough Spa Express, hauling the inaugural express on 09/07/86 and sharing duties with (4)5305 and 3440. During this period, 4468 worked the ‘Shakespeare Limited’, ‘South Yorkshire Pullman’ and an RSPB sponsored York – Carnforth special. Mallard attended the 3rd October Doncaster Works open day with ‘last off the line’ BR Standard 9F 92220 ‘Evening Star’

4468’s first events of 1988 consisted of TPO runs, with a set of commemorative stamps to boot. These runs consisted of the Post Office exhibition train, ‘Postal Pullman’ and the ‘Pennine Postal Pullman’. The 50th anniversary of Mallard’s record took place on 3rd July 1988 in the NRM’s North yard at York with 4464 ‘Bittern’ masquerading as 2509 ‘Silver Link’ and 4498 ‘Sir Nigel Gresley’, which was during this period in garter blue. 60009 was unable to attend as she was having a restoration to mainline working condition at the time. Mallard ran the Doncaster to Scarborough leg of a London – Scarborough special on the anniversary date, followed by ten turns on the Scarborough Spa Express.

Mallard conducted a further number of runs in 1988, to Carlisle, Grange-over-Sands and the ‘Transpennine’ to Manchester. Mallard’s final run under her own steam to date was on 27th August 1988 to Carlisle, running short on steam on the S&C. Mallard then retired to static display at York, and has since appeared ‘dead’ at many events outside York, in 1988, 1998 and 2003 at Doncaster, Swindon in 1990 and Barrow Hill in 2012.

Mallard took part in her 70th anniversary celebrations in the NRM’s North Yard, with 60007, 60009 and 60019 attending. 60009 departed mid-way through on rail tour duties.

All six surviving Gresley A4 locomotives are to be displayed together at York and Shildon for the Mallard 75 celebrations. Information for the events can be found on the NRM’s website;

4464 at 90 Final.001

The copyright of all images remains with the UKHH Contributor, Joseph Dowse

2 thoughts on “The Great Gathering

  1. My wife (babara) and i , were invited to the N.R.M. along with A 4 pacific footplate crews on 26/10/13 and were treated like VIP,S,,,”MALLARD” ,peered down on us old men of steam, she seemed to say, “You think i,m dead, you think i,m up in that vast railway, up in heaven, but light a fire in my belly,make it hot, to wake me up!, and when my whistle blows, stand aside, for i am the queen of the world, open my regulator and i will fly! give me a trusty driver and i will streak for you once again for i am the mighty “MALLARD”,,,,,,,all the best to you,,john.


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