National Railway Museum makes final touches to magnificent Dominion of Canada A4 locomotive

By Ben Miller | 13 May 2013
It has embarked on a 2,527-mile transatlantic journey for a two-year loan at York's National Railway Museum as part of the 75th anniversary celebration of Mallard's steam world speed record.
A photo of a man painting letters on to the side of an ancient locomotive train
Ian Matthews, of M Machine, adds the freehand numbering to Dominion of Canada© Locomotion; the National Railway Museum at Shildon
Now workers including Ian Matthews, a heritage painting expert, have begun the intricate task of the freehand lettering on the side of the Dominion of Canada, marking the final stage of the restoration of a 1930s A4 locomotive described as being in a somewhat “shabby” original state.

“No 60010 arrived looking a little jaded in the BR Green livery it has carried from the sixties,” says Anthony Coulls, the Senior Curator of Railway Vehicles, who welcomed the Dominion along with fellow engine the Dwight D Eisenhower last October, when both vehicles arrived at the museum’s workshop in County Durham.

“It’s been a real labour of love to transform it into the streamlined valance blue LNER No 4489 – just as it was in its 1930s heyday.

“It’s been quite a journey for our workshop team of dedicated staff and volunteers. It’s been like unwrapping a time capsule. On stripping down the loco we even discovered a vintage newspaper under the driver’s seat.”

The project has not always been a smooth ride. “Fitting the bell provided some interesting challenges,” reflects Coulls.

“But we hope we will be able to make it ring using compressed air on Mallard’s big day in July.

“We’re so excited to be showcasing all six survivors of the A4 class in our Great Gathering and it’s fantastic that people from all over the world, including the US, Canada and Australia are travelling to York to join us in marking the milestone in global history that is Mallard’s world record-breaking run.”

In Canada, where Exporail, the Canadian Railway Museum is the locomotives’ home, Executive Director General Marie-Claude Reid says planners are watching the makeover “with interest.”

“Dominion of Canada has been an important part of our collection at Exporail since the late sixties,” she says.

“We are thrilled to be loaning her to the National Railway Museum to help the British people mark 75 years since Mallard broke the world speed record in style.”

A Great Goodbye event is also planned to take place in Shilden in February 2014.More pictures:

A photo of a huge 1930s train in blue and black inside a museum
© Locomotion; the National Railway Museum at Shildon
A photo of a man adding paint to the sign in front of a huge blue locomotive train
© Locomotion; the National Railway Museum at Shildon
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