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LNER Class A4 4468 Mallard

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LNER Class A4 4468 Mallard
Type and origin
Power typeSteam
DesignerNigel Gresley
BuilderLNER Doncaster Works
Serial number1870
Build date3 March 1938
 • Whyte4-6-2
 • UIC2'C1'h3
Gauge4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Leading dia.3 ft 2 in (0.965 m)
Driver dia.6 ft 8 in (2.032 m)
Trailing dia.3 ft 8 in (1.118 m)
Length70 ft (21.34 m)
Loco weight102.95 long tons (104.6 t; 115.3 short tons)
Total weight165 long tons (167.6 t; 184.8 short tons)
Boiler pressure250 psi (1.72 MPa)
Cylinder size18.5 in × 26 in (470 mm × 660 mm)
Loco brakeSteam
Train brakesVacuum
Performance figures
Tractive effort35,455 lbf (157.7 kN)
OperatorsLNER, BR
  • LNER (1st): 4468
  • LNER (2nd): 22
  • BR (1st): E22
  • BR (2nd): 60022
Withdrawn25 April 1963
DispositionOn static display at the National Railway Museum, York

LNER Class A4 4468 Mallard is a 4-6-2 ("Pacific") steam locomotive built in 1938 for operation on the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) at Doncaster Works to a design of Nigel Gresley. Its streamlined, wind tunnel tested[1] design allowed it to haul long distance express passenger services at high speeds. On 3 July 1938, Mallard broke the world speed record for steam locomotives at 126 mph (203 km/h), which still stands today.

While in British Railways days regular steam-hauled rail services in the UK were officially limited to a 90 mph (140 km/h) 'line speed', before the war, the A4s had to run significantly above 90 mph (140 km/h) just to keep schedule on trains such as the Silver Jubilee and The Coronation,[2] with the engines reaching 100 mph on many occasions.[3][4] Mallard covered almost one and a half million miles (2.4 million km) before it was retired in 1963.

The locomotive is 70 ft (21 m) long and weighs 165 long tons (168 tonnes, 369,600 lbs), including the tender. It is painted LNER garter blue with red wheels and steel rims.

Mallard is now part of the National Collection and preserved at the National Railway Museum in York.


Mallard in 1962.

In 1936, Nigel Gresley, the chief mechanical engineer of the LNER, ordered a new batch of six 4-6-2 "Pacific" Class A4 engines to be built at Doncaster Works.[5]: 223  The A4s were known for their distinct streamlined and aerodynamic design, and designed for hauling long distance express passenger services at high speeds. The first batch comprised four locomotives which entered service in 1935, and had "Silver" in their names as they were to haul the non-stop The Silver Jubilee service between London King's Cross and Newcastle.

The six new A4s were named after a bird, influenced by Gresley's fondness of breeding wild birds, and incorporated some modifications to maximise the possibilities of the original streamlined design.[5]: 221  This included a new, state-of-the-art double Kylchap chimney and blastpipe, allowing the smoke to be distributed more freely.[5]: 224  However, the problem of smoke being dispersed at the front of the locomotive, in turn giving drivers only a narrow viewing window, remained unsolved, and Gresley was determined to find a solution, using Mallard, the 28th A4 locomotive as a test. It was solved after a wooden model at 1/12th of the original size of Mallard was made to undergo smoke tests in a wind tunnel setting, using a tunnel made of plasticine. After a period of testing, a solution to deflect the smoke was found and the modification was incorporated into Mallard's final design.[5]: 225–227 

Mallard was released from Doncaster Works and entered service on 3 March 1938, carrying the number of 4468. It wore a variety of liveries throughout its career, these were: garter blue as 4468, LNER wartime black from 13 June 1942, later wartime black with the tender marked as "NE" from 21 October 1943 as 22 with yellow small stencilled numbers, post-war garter blue with white and red lining from 5 March 1948 with stainless steel cabside number 22, British Railways dark blue as 60022 from 16 September 1949, Brunswick green from 4 July 1952 and its original LNER garter blue for preservation in 1963.

The A4 class was built with streamlined valances, or side skirting, but this was removed during the war to ease maintenance. Mallard lost its valances during a works visit on 13 June 1942, regaining them in preservation in 1963.

Mallard was fitted with twelve boilers during its 25-year career. These boilers were: 9024 (from construction), 8959 (from 4496 Golden Shuttle, 13 June 1942), 8907 (from 2511 Silver King, 1 August 1946), 8948 (from 31 Golden Plover, Walter K Whigham, 10 January 1951), 29301 (from 60019 Bittern, 4 July 1952), 29315 (from 60014 Silver Link, 23 April 1954), 29328 (new-build boiler, 7 June 1957), 29308 (from 60008 Dwight D. Eisenhower, 27 August 1958), 29310 (from 60009 Union of South Africa, 9 March 1960) and 27965 (from 60009 Union of South Africa, 10 August 1961).

Mallard has had seven tenders throughout its career. It started off with a non-corridor tender in 1938, had corridor design tenders during its British Railways days and was fitted with a non-corridor tender in 1963 to recreate its original appearance. The tenders it has been fitted with are: 5642 (3 March 1938 – 14 March 1939), 5639 (5 May 1939 – 16 January 1948), 5323 (5 March 1948 – 12 March 1953), 5648 (12 March 1953 – 21 July 1958), 5330 (27 August 1958 – 30 May 1962), 5651 (30 May 1962 – 25 April 1963) and 5670 (current tender, masquerading as original tender 5642).

The original non-corridor tender 5642 was later coupled to sister locomotive 60026 Miles Beevor when it was withdrawn on 21 December 1965 but later came into the possession of the A4 Preservation Society who had purchased this locomotive from the scrapyard to assist the restoration of classmate 4498 Sir Nigel Gresley. It was scrapped in 1973 as being surplus to requirements, by which time it had also donated parts to the restoration of A3 class locomotive 4472 Flying Scotsman, which had recently returned from America and was being restored at Derby Workshops.

Mallard was allocated to three sheds during its career: Doncaster, transferring on 21 October 1943 to Grantham and on 11 April 1948 to Kings Cross Top Shed.

1938 speed record


On 3 July 1938, Mallard claimed the world speed record for steam locomotives at 126 mph (203 km/h) during a trial run of a new, quick-acting brake, known as the Westinghouse QSA brake. The speed was achieved during the downward grade of Stoke Bank, south of Grantham at milepost 90¼, between Little Bytham and Essendine stations. Mallard hauled a seven-coach train, including a dynamometer car which housed apparatus to record the speed. The speed it recorded exceeded the previous record speed of 124.5 mph (200.4 km/h) set in Germany in 1936 by DRG Class 05 No. 002. Mallard was just four months old at the time of the record, and was operated by driver Joseph Duddington, a man renowned within the LNER for taking calculated risks, and fireman Thomas Bray.[6] Upon arrival at London King's Cross, driver Duddington and inspector Sid Jenkins were quoted as saying that they thought a speed of 130 mph (209 km/h) would have been possible if the train did not need to slow for a set of junctions at Essendine. There was also a permanent speed restriction of 15 mph (24 km/h) just north of Grantham station, which slowed the train as they sought to build up maximum speed for the descent of Stoke Bank.[7]

The A4 class previously had problems with the big end bearing for the middle cylinder, so the big end was fitted with a "stink bomb" of aniseed oil which would be released if the bearing overheated. After attaining the record speed, the middle big end on Mallard did overheat reduced speed, running at 70–75 mph (113–121 km/h) onwards to Peterborough,[8] and was sent to Doncaster Works for repair. This had been foreseen by the publicity department, who had many pictures taken for the press, in case Mallard did not make it back to Kings Cross. The (Edwardian period) Ivatt Atlantic that replaced Mallard at Peterborough was only just in sight when the head of publicity started handing out the pictures.

Mallard speed record plate

Mallard topped Stoke Bank at 75 mph (121 km/h) and accelerated downhill. The speeds at the end of each 1 mi (1.6 km) from the summit were recorded as: 87.5 mph (140.8 km/h), 96.5 mph (155.3 km/h), 104 mph (167 km/h), 107 mph (172 km/h), 111.5 mph (179.4 km/h), 116 mph (187 km/h) and 119 mph (192 km/h); half-mile (800 m) readings after that gave 12034, 12212, 123, 12414 and finally 125 mph (194, 197, 198, 200 and 201 km/h). However, the dynamometer car tracks the current speed every half second on a paper roll moving 24 in (610 mm) for every mile travelled. Speeds could be calculated by measuring the distance between the timing marks. Immediately after the run staff in the dynamometer car calculated the speed over five second intervals, finding a maximum of 125 mph (201 km/h). Although 126 mph (203 km/h) was seen for a single second, Gresley would not accept this as a reliable measurement and 125 mph (201 km/h) an hour was the figure published.

Gresley planned to have another attempt in September 1939, but this was prevented by the outbreak of World War II.[9]: 126  In 1948, plaques proposed and designed by Harry Underwood, a headmaster and keen steam enthusiast, were fixed onto the locomotive which stated 126 mph (203 km/h), and this became the generally accepted speed.[10] Despite this, some writers have commented on the implausibility of the rapid changes in speed.[11] A recent analysis has claimed that the paper roll was not moving at a constant rate, and the peaks and troughs in the speed curve resulting in claims of 125 mph (201 km/h) held for 5 seconds and 126 mph (203 km/h) for one second were just a result of this measuring inaccuracy. It concluded that a verifiable maximum speed being a sustained 124 mph (200 km/h) for almost a mile.[12][13] On 3 July 2013, the 75th anniversary of the speed record, all six surviving A4 locomotives were brought together at the National Railway Museum.[14]

Rival claims


Mallard's record has never been officially exceeded by a steam locomotive, although a German DRG Class 05 reached 124 mph (200 km/h) in 1936 on a horizontal stretch of track, unlike Stoke Bank, which is slightly downhill. However, the Class 05 hauled a four-coach train of 197 tons, whereas Mallard's seven-coach train weighed 240 tons.[15]

Several speed claims are tied to the Pennsylvania Railroad and their various duplex locomotive classes. The S1 class during its lifetime was attributed to having reached anywhere from 133.4 mph (214.7 km/h) to 141.2 mph (227.2 km/h).[16][17] Speed claims tied to the T1 class state the locomotive reached speeds up to 140 mph (230 km/h).[18] New build project Pennsylvania Railroad 5550 which is constructing a brand new T1, has stated their desire to test the locomotive when completed to see if it can claim the speed record from Mallard.[19]

1948 Locomotive Exchange Trials


In 1948, shortly after the formation of British Railways, the decision was taken to test locomotives from all of the former 'Big Four' companies to find the best attributes of speed, power and efficiency with coal and water. There were two ways of testing and comparing locomotives: either at the Rugby Locomotive Testing Station, which was not ready until late 1948 or by testing in the field itself. The results of the 1948 Locomotive Exchange Trials would be used to help design the British Railways Standard locomotives.

The express passenger locomotive designs which would be compared were: London Midland Region (former LMS) Princess Coronation class, Eastern Region (former LNER) Class A4, Southern Region (former Southern) Merchant Navy class and Western Region (former GWR) King class.

Mallard with the number 'E22' during the Locomotive exchange of 1948

Three Gresley A4 locomotives were chosen to represent the Eastern Region: E22 Mallard, 60033 Seagull and 60034 Lord Faringdon. All of the locomotives had the Kylchap double blastpipe chimney arrangement and were fresh from Doncaster works. Mallard had emerged from Doncaster with a fresh coat of post-war garter blue livery, stainless steel numbers 22 with a small 'E' painted above them (for Eastern region), new boiler (its fourth) and third tender of its career.

E22 Mallard was used on 8 June 1948 on the London Waterloo to Exeter route. Driver Marrable took the famous A4 with a load of 481 tons tare, 505 tons full, the same that had been used on the previous trip by 35018 British India Line. Mallard reached Clapham Junction in 6 minutes 57 seconds and Woking in 28 minutes 47 seconds. At Hook there were adverse signals, causing Mallard to slow to a crawl. Even so, Salisbury was reached in 108 minutes and 28 seconds. Despite the signals earlier, the train was only 5-and-a-half minutes late. The net time was 95.5 minutes.

Mallard failed after this trial and 60033 Seagull took over. On 10 June Seagull achieved the run in 96 minutes 22 seconds, but had departed 3 minutes late, meaning Seagull had arrived with the same load 3.5 minutes early. For Mallard, the trials were over, but Mallard returned to the Waterloo-Exeter line for a Locomotive Club of Great Britain (LCGB) railtour on 24 February 1963.

The Elizabethan

60022 hauling the Elizabethan Express

The Elizabethan Express was a flagship express that ran non-stop over the 393 miles (632 km) between London King's Cross and Edinburgh Waverley from 1953 to the mid-1960s. Until September 1961 it was steam-hauled. In its day it was the longest non-stop run in the world. Two crews were needed for the six-and-a-half-hour run. They were able to change over mid-journey by using a corridor tender. Only a few locomotives other than Mallard had such a tender. In December 1961, Mallard hauled the final steam-hauled northbound Elizabethan train.[5]: 280 



Following the introduction of diesel and electric trains, many steam locomotives across the UK were set to be scrapped. In December 1960, a notification was issued to have Mallard preserved, which was not confirmed until 29 August 1962. Its final revenue earning service took place on 25 April 1963, after which the locomotive was sent to Doncaster Works for repair and restored to its original condition.[5]: 281–282 

In February 1963, Mallard was sent to Nine Elms depot, followed by the Museum of British Transport museum in Clapham, south London.[5]: 82 [20] It then ran a series of special trains, including a run from Doncaster via Nottingham Victoria to Clapham Junction.[5]: 283  Following a relaxation of the ban on steam locomotives in the UK in the 1970s, Mallard hauled a train from Stewarts Lane, Battersea to York via the Midland Main Line in on 12 April 1975 in preparation for the opening of the National Railway Museum, where it remained.[5]: 283  This was followed by periods on display at York and Doncaster Works in June 1977 and June 1978, respectively.[5]: 284  In the 1980s, Mallard was restored to working order to commemorate the 50th anniversary of its 1938 record speed run. Its first run took place on 26 March 1986 from York to Doncaster, and a series of other special trains were completed across England in 1986 to 1987.[5]: 284  The locomotive's final run in operation was on 3 July 1988 from Doncaster to Scarborough and back, which was attended by several family members of the original train crew on the 3 July 1938 run. The trip was related to a special commemorative postage stamp featuring Mallard.[5]: 285–286 [21]

In July 2003, Mallard was put on display outside the National Railway Museum as part of the 150th anniversary of Doncaster Works.[5]: 289  It was taken outside again in July 2008 beside three other preserved A4s located in the UK, thus reuniting them for the first time since preservation. In 2012, six preserved A4s, including two in the United States and Canada, reunited at the museum for the 75th anniversary of Mallard's recording breaking run.[22] The same six A4s were displayed together at the National Railway Museum Shildon for a short time. In June 2010, Mallard was taken to Shildon where it remained a static exhibit until July 2011, when it returned to York. In July 2019, it made its first outside appearance since 2014 when it was displayed at York station alongside a Class 800 Azuma as part of the latter's launch by the London North Eastern Railway.[23]



Hornby Dublo first produced a model of Mallard in BR loco green for their 3-rail OO gauge system in 1958.[24] Bachmann and Hornby have subsequently released models of Mallard several times in Garter Blue. Hornby released a model of Mallard in BR Express Passenger Blue and a limited edition model in BR Dark Loco Green. Hornby has also released a limited edition model of 4468 in LNER form along with the other five surviving A4s in 2013. In 2023 Hornby released a TT120 scale model of "Mallard" in LNER garter blue livery along with "Silver King" in BR Brunswick green livery and "Falcon" in BR garter blue livery with white lining.

A Corgi 1:120 scale model in Garter Blue as part of a series entitled "Rail Legends" is available.

In culture

  • A painting of Mallard in her immediate post-war condition features on the 1993 Blur album Modern Life Is Rubbish. The painting was a stock image that Stylorouge—Blur's design consultants—obtained from a photo library in Halifax. According to Design Week magazine, the painting "evoked the feel of a Just William schoolboy's pre-war Britain".[25]
  • The 2013 song "East Coast Racer" by British progressive rock band Big Big Train tells the story of Mallard's record-breaking run.[26]
  • On the US TV crime drama NCIS, the Hornby model of Mallard is a usual feature in some of the scenes that take place within the autopsy department. The model can usually be seen above the desk at the end of the room, and belongs to Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard (played by David McCallum).[27]
  • A brick sculpture of Mallard, known as the Brick Train and created by David Mach in 1997, can be found alongside the A66 road on the eastern outskirts of the town of Darlington, County Durham.[28]

See also



  1. ^ Solomon, Brian (2003). Railway Masterpieces. Newton Abbot: David & Charles. p. 28. ISBN 9780715317433. OCLC 52695896.
  2. ^ Yeadon, Willie B. (2004). Named Trains on LNER Lines (Combined ed.). Book Law Publications. p. 157. ISBN 1899624384.
  3. ^ Nock, O.S. (1974). The Gresley Pacifics. Vol. 2. David & Charles.
  4. ^ The Railway Correspondence and Travel Society (1972). Locomotives of the L.N.E.R. [London & North Eastern Railway]. Part 2A: Tender Engines - Classes A1 to A10. The Railway Correspondence and Travel Society. ISBN 9780901115256.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Hale, Don (2009). Mallard: How the 'Blue Streak' Broke the World Steam Speed Record. Long Preston. ISBN 978-1-842-62673-3.
  6. ^ "Men who served on Mallard prepare to be reunited with famous locomotive". Yorkshire Post. 30 June 2008. Archived from the original on 27 May 2012.
  7. ^ Semmens, P.W.B. (1989). Speed on the East Coast Main Line. Patrick Stephens. p. 64. ISBN 978-0850599305.
  8. ^ "Mallard 75". Railway Museum UK. 2014. Archived from the original on 27 June 2018. Retrieved 26 June 2018.
  9. ^ Boddy, M.G.; Neve, E.; Yeadon, W.B. (April 1973). Fry, E.V. (ed.). Part 2A: Tender Engines – Classes A1 to A10. Locomotives of the L.N.E.R. Kenilworth: RCTS. ISBN 0-901115-25-8.
  10. ^ "Harry Underwood". West Riding Small Locomotive Society. 1948. Harry Underwood is recorded as being the instigator of the idea (via the C.M.E. Doncaster) of fitting 'Mallard' with commemorative plaques. Photo of plaque design sent to him from Doncaster for his approval.
  11. ^ King, Bill (November–December 2001). "How fast did Mallard really go?". Journal of the Stephenson Locomotive Society. Vol. 77. pp. 226–230.
  12. ^ Andrews, David (2018). "Streaking through time and space: Just How Fast Did Mallard Go?". BackTrack. Vol. 32, no. 8. pp. 472–476.
  13. ^ Andrews, David (3 July 2020). "GUEST BLOG: A MATTER OF TIME AND SPACE". imecharchive.wordpress.com. Institution of Mechanical Engineers. Retrieved 12 February 2024.
  14. ^ "Mallard 75". National Railway Museum. Archived from the original on 27 August 2016. Retrieved 28 November 2016.
  15. ^ Magnificent Mallard: The world's fastest steam locomotive. 2 July 2013. Event occurs at 02:49. Archived from the original on 26 December 2018. Retrieved 21 July 2018.
  16. ^ http://streamlinermemories.info/PRR/Gargantua.pdf | Popular Mechanics Magazine | Dec 1941
  17. ^ Rekord Lokomotiven, Die schnellsten der Schiene 1848-1950, P.134 | (1988) by Wilhelm Reuter
  18. ^ "Dream Becomes Reality…". prrt1steamlocomotivetrust.org. PRR T1 Steam Locomotive Trust. Retrieved 7 May 2024.
  19. ^ Gilboy, James (3 October 2022). "Steam Train Fanatics Are Rebuilding This Mythical Speed Record-Chaser From Blueprints". thedrive.com. The Drive. Retrieved 7 May 2024.
  20. ^ "Mallard preserved". Railway Gazette. 6 December 1963. p. 643.
  21. ^ "Transport and Communications". Collect GB Stamps. 10 May 1988. Retrieved 27 August 2022.
  22. ^ "Day in pictures: 3 October 2012". BBC News. 4 October 2012. Archived from the original on 5 November 2018.
  23. ^ "Rare Bird: Mallard Breaks Free from York Museum". Steam Railway. No. 496. 23 August 2019. p. 8.
  24. ^ Foster, Michael (1980). The Hornby Companion Series - Hornby Dublo Trains (1st ed.). London: New Cavendish Books. p. 94. ISBN 0-904568-18-0.
  25. ^ Austin, Jane (2 September 1994). "Blurred Vision – Covers of Albums and CDs". Design Week.
  26. ^ "How Mallard inspired a rock band". National Railway Museum. 23 May 2013. Archived from the original on 8 September 2013. Retrieved 2 July 2013.
  27. ^ "on Model Trains and TV characters – 2011". Raymond G. Potter – Scale Models, Arts, & Technologies, Inc. February 2012. Archived from the original on 7 October 2013. Retrieved 5 October 2013.
  28. ^ "Darlington's Brick Train". This is Darlington. Archived from the original on 6 January 2020. Retrieved 6 January 2020.

Further reading

  • Allen, Cecil J. (1949). The Locomotive Exchanges 1870–1948. Ian Allan Publishing. A comprehensive book on locomotive exchanges, giving details of each trial and the locomotives involved.
  • Clarke, David (2005). Locomotives in Detail: 3 Gresley 4-6-2- A4 Class. Ian Allan Publishing. ISBN 0-7110-3085-5. An overall history of the Gresley A4 class, as well as unparalleled details about the class and individual members.
  • Doherty, Douglas, ed. (1971). Model Railways Locomotive Album. Kings Langley, Hertfordshire: Model and Allied Publications Ltd. ISBN 0-85242-221-0. An eclectic mix of articles and photographs concerning British railways, trains and locomotives
  • Farr, Keith (July 2013). Pigott, Nick (ed.). "Practice & Performance". The Railway Magazine. Vol. 159, no. 1347. Horncastle, Lincolnshire: Mortons Media Group. ISSN 0033-8923. The first and premiere general railway interest magazine
  • Kerr, Michael (2009). Last Call for the Dining Car. London: Aurum Press Limited. ISBN 978-1-84513-770-0. A compendium of railway-related pieces from the Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph over many years
  • Merritt, A (7 September 2015). "Letter to the Editor". The Times. London.
  • Yeadon, W.B. (2001). Yeadon's Register of LNER Locomotives: Volume Two: Gresley A4 and W1 classes. Booklaw/Railbus in association with Challenger. ISBN 1-871608-15-5. Histories of the A4 and W1 classes of locomotive with details of repairs and liveries etc.