Railway Museum welcomes daughter of goods guard who helped Mallard speed record

By Culture24 Reporter | 08 November 2013

Capped, suited and smiling, the post-run photo of the crew who broke the speed record aboard the Mallard locomotive in 1938 is an immortal one. Now the daughter of one of the railwaymen in the picture will see the train her father helped to an achievement still unsurpassed.

A black and white photo of a group of 1930s railwaymen standing in front of a locomotive
Goods Guard Henry (Harry) Croucher (fourth right) following his part in Mallard's record-breaking run© Science and Society Picture Library
Henry (Harry) Croucher, a Goods Guard for the former London and North Eastern Railway, can be seen standing fourth on the right of that portrait of satisfaction from July 3 1938. Curators are expecting some “colourful tales” when his daughter, Julie Slater, visits the museum today – including the story of her brother, Bert, who worked for the LNER before his death in a sea battle while serving during World War II.

Slater grew up in railway cottages near King’s Cross. Her dad was drafted in to work on Mallard for the secret record attempt, but she got in touch with Bob Gwynne, the curator at the National Railway Museum, after the York venue announced its expansive programme marking the 75th anniversary of Croucher and his colleagues hitting top velocity.

“Unfortunately he had already passed away before our 50th anniversary celebrations, so it has taken the added publicity surrounding the 75th anniversary to encourage Julie and her family to step forward and talk about their strong connection to our celebrity locomotive,” says Gwynne, who calls Slater’s arrival “a new strand” in the story of Mallard.

“There is absolutely no doubt that the man in the family photos Julie provided is the same man as in the picture taken of the record-breaking crew at Peterborough.

“Harry would have been quite pleased at being asked to work on that Sunday’s ‘brake trial’ as it would have meant double time. But of all the crew in the picture he looks like he found it quite a hair-raising experience.

“It is family stories like this that bring our spectacular collection of railway vehicles to life. We are interested in talking further with Julie about her memories of her father.”

Hundreds of thousands of people have visited the museum as part of the Mallard 75 season. The current Autumn Great Gathering continues until Monday (November 11), with the programme culminating in a Great Goodbye next February.


What do you think? Leave a comment below.

You might also like:

Mallard 75: The 76-year history of the mighty Dwight D Eisenhower A4 locomotive

Railway veteran speed record breaker joins Mallard 75 Autumn Great Gathering

Record breaking Mallard in A4 reunion at York's National Railway Museum
Latest comment: >Make a comment
Henry croucher was my grandfather. I stayed with him so often as a child and he related the fact that he was so scared on that day. The train shook and rattled and it felt like it was coming apart. I have his long service medal and a letter from the train company when he retired. I am so proud of him as all the family is. He started working for the railway company at 17 I think and was in his employ the whole time. Sandy strain
>See all comments
More on the venues and organisations we've mentioned:
    Back to article
    Your comment:
    DISCLAIMER: Reader comments posted at www.culture24.org.uk are the opinion of the comment writer, not Culture24. Culture24 reserves the right to withdraw or withhold from publication any comments that are deemed to be hearsay or potentially libellous, or make false or unsubstantiated allegations or are deemed to be spam or unrelated to the article at which they are posted.
    Related listings (43)
    See all related listings »
    Related resources (28)
    See all related resources »