Posts Tagged ‘A4 locomotive’

Completed in 1937 this was the 100th Gresley designed Pacific locomotive to be built. It worked its life on the East Coast mainline and holds the post war steam speed record of 112 mph set on 23/5/1959. This was achieved over the same stretch of track the Mallard had used for the world record run pre-war, but the difference was that 4498 was pulling a full passenger train. It was withdrawn from service in February 1966 and sent to Crewe for refurbishment as it had been purchased by a preservation trust. Following this it was used to run railtours out of Steamtown at Carnforth. In 1994 it transfered to Great Central Railway and also did a spell at the East Lancs Railway before being based on the North York Moors railway. In 2012 it took part in the Olympic torch tour of the UK.



video by Grantham8 (

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The Great Goodbye

Posted: March 10, 2014 in Trains
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And so it ends. It is unlikely that the 6 remaining A4s will be seen together again. Its been a great experience to see these great machines standing together. I echo the thanks to those who have worked over the years to preserve and restore them so that we today can still experience their majesty

Phil Lambell

THEY’RE just machines aren’t they? One hundred and two tons of metal forged and hammered into shape to fulfil a function.

Image Mallard at The Great Goodbye

Well yes, and no. If that’s all they were we wouldn’t care about them would we?

Not only do we care, we are in awe of these machines. This morning I involuntarily smiled when I heard one of them whistle, a sound carried on the breeze across the north of Darlington, as it made its way down the branch line from Shildon.

And we cared in huge numbers over the last week or so as the remaining six Class A4 Pacific steam locomotives went on show at Locomotion in Shildon ( in an event named The Great Goodbye.

I was one of 18,000 to visit on Saturday. Organisers expected 72,000 visitors over the nine days, they eventually welcomed 120,000. Shildon, not a…

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4496 was built in 1937 and was originally destined to be called Sparrowhawk. However, when it left the works, it was named Golden Shuttle in recognition of the Yorkshire wool industry. Its initial use was on the route between London and Leeds and between London and Bradford. In 1946 the locomotive was transferred to the East Coast mainline and renamed Dwight D. Eisenhower, after the American wartime commander (later to be President of the United States). The locomotive was withdrawn from service in July 1963, taken to Doncaster works for refurbishment and then shipped to United States of America where it went on display at the National Railroad Museum in Green Bay, Wisconsin. In September 2012, it traveled Halifax Nova Scotia where along with the ‘Dominion of Canada’ it was shipped to the UK for participation in the Mallard 75 celebrations. It will return to the USA in spring 2014.





Bittern was built in 1937. It spent most of its working life on the East Coast mainline, particularly hauling the ‘Flying Scotsman’ service between King’s Cross and Newcastle. In November 1963 it was transferred to haul the services between Glasgow and Edinburgh, and has the distinction of pulling the last steam service between Glasgow and Aberdeen. It was withdrawn from service in September 1966 and was based in York for use on railtours. Following engine problems, it was housed at the Dinting Railway Centre, the Stephenson Railway Museum in Newcastle and the Great Central Railway before being sent in 2000 for complete overhaul and restoration. Bittern was steamed again in May of 2007 and has since worked on railtour duty. During this time it has been rebranded as 4492 Dominion of New Zealand, but has been returned to original name and number for the Mallard 75 celebrations. On 29 June 2013, the locomotive set a British speed record for a preserved steam locomotive at 92.5 miles per hour.



4489 has gone under a number of different name changes during its life. It was originally to be called Buzzard, but was eventually named Woodcock when it left the works in May 1937. In December of that year, it was renamed Dominion of Canada. In recognition of this, it carried a Canadian Pacific Railway issue whistle and bell, the only A4 to do so. The locomotive spent its time on the East Coast mainline until its withdrawal from service in May 1965. It was initially stored in Darlington depot as they began restoration crew in March 1966. Following restoration. It was shipped to Canada and displayed in the Canadian Railway Museum near Montreal. It was shipped back to the UK in September 2012 to take part in the Mallard 75 celebrations, prior to which it received a complete overhaul. It will return to Canada in the spring of 2014.



Built in 197, this A4 pacific locomotive was originally due to be called Osprey, in keeping with the bird themed names of other A4s. However it was renamed Union of South Africa before entering service on the East Coast mainline. It was renamed as Osprey in the 1980s and 1990s due to the political situation between the UK and South Africa, but has since reverted to its original working name. In October 1964 4488 hauled the last steam train from Kings Cross to Edinburgh and it was withdrawn from service in June 1966 and passed into private hands. It has spent most of its time being based in Scotland or at the Severn valley Railway in the English Midlands and extensively used for railtours.




video by Britains Railways (


4468 Mallard was built at Doncaster in 1938. The A4 class was designed for the North-Eastern Railway by Sir Nigel Gresley to pull high speed express trains. Mallard remained in service until 1963 working the route between London and Edinburgh. Mallard is the holder of the record for the fastest steam train in the world at 125.88 MPH. This record was achieved on 3rd July 1938 on the Stoke bank section of the east coast line near Grantham. It was a risky business as a curve occurred in the line just beyond the Stoke bank and the engine needed to break heavily to ensure it remained on the rails, During this the engine overheated (a problem that had been foreseen) and the engine had to be removed from service for repairs. Mallard also took part in the 1948 Locomotive exchange trials when locos from different regions of the newly formed BR were trialed on routes they did not usually run. Mallard hauled a train from London Waterloo to Salisbury but failed following the run and was removed from the trial. Mallard also pulled the last Steam hailed flagship ‘Elizabethan’ express from London to Edinburgh on 8th September 1961.

In the 1980s the engine was restored to working order and after being used for a number of years for pulling railtours become part of the static collection at the National Railway Museum, firstly at York (till 2008) then at Shildon (2008-2010) and subsequently back at York.

The plaque on Mallard commemorating the Stoke bank record

The plaque on Mallard commemorating the Stoke bank record





Only a couple of weeks to go. Have my tickets booked!

Chasewaterstuff's Railway & Canal Blog

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…

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As some of you may have realised by know the A4’s are my favourite steam loconmotives. This year is the 75th anniversary of A4 Mallard setting the world steam speed record and the National Railway Museum is planning a series of events. I plan to be in York for the July celebration when the 5 surviving A4s will all be seen together for the first time ( and possibly the last since one is from the USA and one is from Canada) since they were withdrawn from service.

Further details

A video of A4 Bittern arriving at York yesterdayas part of this years A4 anniversary celebrations.