The record-breaking steam locomotive Mallard is one of the stars of the collection at the National Railway Museum, but a new arrival in York is also turning a few heads as it prepares to help celebrate an important anniversary in 2013.Mallard’s sister locomotive, Dwight D Eisenhower, is currently in the museum’s workshops undergoing the final stages of a livery makeover for next year’s 75th anniversary celebration of Mallard breaking the world speed record.
The Doncaster-built locomotive bearing the name of the WWII General and US President came to York as part of two-year loan deal after a 2,527 mile Atlantic odyssey and a transcontinental trek across North America from the National Railroad Museum in Wisconsin, USA.
The makeover, undertaken by Lancashire firm Heritage Painting, is returning her to the original livery of Brunswick green and can be viewed as it progresses from the museum’s workshop viewing platform.
Eisenhower has been joined in the UK by another great A4 Class locomotive, Dominion of Canada, which is on loan from Exporail, the Canadian National Railway Museum in Montreal. The fellow transatlantic traveller is currently getting a Mallard-style makeover to return her to the characteristic garter blue at the National Railway Museum at Shildon.
When complete both locomotives will be ready for a spectacular family reunion in July 2013 that promises to fulfil the dreams of rail fans across the globe by bringing all six surviving A4 locomotives in the world together at the National Railway Museum in York - a sight never seen before.
Bob Gwynne, Associate Curator of Railway Vehicles at the National Railway Museum said “it was only fitting” that Mallard’s sister locomotives “enjoy some time in the spotlight” after their historic homecoming to UK soil.
“We are hoping that visitors will visit our workshop balcony to watch Heritage Painting transform Dwight D Eisenhower back to its streamlined Brunswick green best,” he added, “and return over the Christmas holidays to see the finished job.”
Designed by Nigel Gressley for the London and North Eastern Railway in 1935, 36 A4s were originally built. In July 1936 one of them, Mallard, broke the world speed record for a locomotive by clocking an impressive 126mph on the East Coast Line, breaking the existing record of 124.5 mph held by a German Diesel locomotive. Mallard still holds the world record for the fastest steam locomotive.
With a holding that includes over 300 classic locomotives and rolling stock The National Railway Museum in York has the largest collection of railway objects in the world and attracts over 700,000 visitors per year. Next year’s celebration of Mallard and the last surviving A4s will probably see that impressive figure climb even higher.