When considering some of the UK's finest steam trains there is one name that crops up in everyone's favourite list – The Mallard.
This fantastic piece of British engineering still delights people to this very day and will always have a rightful place in the nation's railway history. Not only is it a record breaker but it is also an engine that has stood the test of time and people from all over the globe flock to gaze upon it. This was evident when the engine was recently on display at the National Railway Museum in York earlier in the year.
Built in 1938 at London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) Doncaster Works, a site which also produced the famous Flying Scotsman, the 4468 Mallard was constructed for one thing and one thing only – speed.
Designer Sir Nigel Gresley would subsequently enter the history book for the creation of the engine, as was its cultural impact. It is currently one of six surviving A4 class steam engines along with the Dwight D. Eisenhower and the Dominion of Canada, Bittern, Union of South Africa and Sir Nigel Gresley.
The Mallard had the ability to regularly cruise over the 100mph speed barrier making it a particular favourite with passengers. Between 1953 and the mid-1960s Mallard was used as the flagship engine for The Elizabethan Express which ran a non-stop service between London Kings Cross and Edinburgh.
It remained steam-powered up until September 1961 but during its day was known as the longest non-stop route in the world. Nowadays Mallard has undergone significant restoration and sits on display at York's National Railway Museum.
The world record
Despite being a magnificent engine in its own right, the one thing that people know about Mallard is that it holds the world record for the fastest speed ever reached by a steam locomotive.
2013 represents 75 years since that famous day on July 3rd 1938 when Mallard reached a top speed of 126mph after passing through Grantham, Lincolnshire. The train had originally left Kings Cross en route to Barkston Junction just north of Grantham but due to some unexpected work being carried out on the track it meant the driver had to push Mallard hard.
It resulted in the engine hitting a speed that no-one was really expecting to achieve and it created an incident that would go down in history as it passed the fabled 126mph. The engine today is fitted with a plaque commemorating the moment in which is set the astonishing record.
As part of the celebrations Mallard will be making a trip back to the site of where it took off. The engine has not been in Grantham for 50 years but will be on display in the area on September 7th and 8th. Back at the National Railway Museum the remaining A4 Class' will be reunited to joy in the 75th anniversary.
Speaking to the BBC, locomotive enthusiast Henry Cleary described Mallard as a "nation icon" adding: "It's still the world record and it will never be broken. It was the pinnacle of the express steam locomotive. It obviously looks very good. It looks beautiful."