The Mighty Mallard

6 04 2012

Last May I did a post on Steam Trains. Now I thought I would do another one this time about my Favourite Train, Mallard.


Mallard is a very famous steam train. It was designed by train designer and engineer Sir Nigel Gresley (who later had an A4 named after him). It set the speed record for the fastest Steam Train in the world. It is also a very BIG train. Mallard is a member of the LNER A4 Class, a group of streamlined steam trains built in Britain in 1935. 35 of them were built and were one of the most recognisable trains around. They were used until 1960 (1966 In Scotland) when diesel locomotives were brought in. Possibly one of the world’s first High Speed rail trains. The A4’s were fitted with double chimneys (first introduced with Mallard in 1938). Their streamlined design not only helped with aerodynamics and increased speed but also prevented smoke getting in the driver’s visibility.

It is interesting to note that while Mallard holds the speed record for Steam Trains it is a Giant Train being 21 metres long and weighing 165 tons if you include the tender. The Speed record was achieved on July 3rd 1938 (4 months after it was built) and achieved a speed of 126 mph which compare it to the Virgin Pendolino’s operating speed (125 mph) means it is faster to go by steam train than modern electric. The train went from Little Bytham to Essendine Railway Station. Mallard beat the previous record which was held by the German DRG Class 05 002 from 1936 (124.5mph).  However the engine overheated and required maintenance and repair work before it went out on the line again. Mallard was eventually withdrawn from service in 1963. Mallard is now part of the National Railway Museum in York. In 2008 Mallard was brought outside for the first time in years and was displayed alongside the four surviving A4’s in Britain. It was moved to the Locomotion Museum in Shildon in 2010 but then brought back to York in 2011.

Now while Mallard is an amazing engine to see what would be fantastic is to see it move under it’s own power again. I do sometimes think that when the Flying Scotsman is finished it may be an idea to restore the Mighty Mallard back to working condition, I would like that. I also think that maybe a future project for the A1 trust would be to make a new A4 (ok, it is a different class but the A4s are fantastic). While Mallard is now a legend in the world of steam trains it’s speed and design can be seen in many high speed trains today, it’s design was perfect for aerodynamic and speed and from this many of the fastest trains running today honour Mallard in their design and speed. While Mallard is now a Museum peace it’s legacy continues.




6 responses

6 04 2012
The Colclough

i’ve never really chosen a single favourite train, but Mallard is definitely in my top five – partly because of the speed record, and partly because the A4s look fantastic. much better-looking than the streamlined coronation scot or the bulleid pacifics, in my opinion. but i’m also quite fond of the GWR 4-6-0s; i think they have a particular old-world elegance that not many other locomotives shared. my favourite small locomotive is probably the GWR 5700-class pannier tank.

7 04 2012

The GWR 5700’s do have a nice design about them (I have one as a Model Train for my Train Set) but nthey are quite small compared to the Giants of the tracks like the LNER A’s.

6 04 2012
The Colclough

coincidentally, i was talking to someone at my church’s Good Friday lunch today about the way art and science sometimes come together to produce a machine that does something useful, and looks beautiful at the same time. i think it’s fair to say that Gresley achieved that with the A3s and A4s.

7 04 2012

I don’t know how to reply to that, pretty good Matt.

11 04 2012

I’ve always thought that Mallard was a fantastic looking train. I think was did it for me was that the design is just a bit different to the ‘classic’-looking stream train.

11 04 2012

It’s Good to be different.

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