On Sunday 3rd July 1938, LNER Class A4 No. 4468 "Mallard" made its mark in history by setting the world speed record for a steam locomotive at 126mph. A record that wasn't and will likely never be beaten by another steam loco.
Mallard's record was set on the slight downward grade of Stoke Bank, just south of Grantham on the East Coast Main Line. The loco was coupled to six coaches and a dynamometer testing car for the attempt, which also acted as a trial for the new quick-acting Westinghouse QSA brakes. Echoing George Formby in the 1935 film, No Limit, driver Joseph Duddington entered the cab, turned his cap around and piloted the A4 into history.
The testing car recorded a momentary maximum speed of 126mph for approximately a quarter of a mile, which just beat the previous record of 124.5mph set by a German DRG Class 05 locomotive. Anecdotally, Mallard's crew claimed that the locomotive could have topped 130mph, had it not been for the slow junctions at Essendine - a further speed attempt was planned but thwarted by WWII.
The attempt did take its toll on Mallard, with the big end bearing on the centre axle overheating at the end of the run - meaning it had to limp its way to Peterborough and then on to Doncaster for repairs. The locomotive returned to service and ran with BR until 1963, at which point it was withdrawn and preserved. It was restored in the 1980s and ran a few specials in following years. Since then, it has been part of the National Collection at the NRM, occasionally venturing outside for special events such as "the Great Gathering" in 2013 when all six surviving A4s were reunited.
Own your own piece of railway history in O, OO or N gauge. Explore a range of 'Mallard' models, below!
Currently under development is the Hatton's Exclusive 1:43 scale model of the LNER Class A4, produced in partnership with Heljan. Our model will cover the lifespan of the class, with alternative tender toolings and detail variations present on the locomotives. "Mallard" will be available both in its standard LNER and "record breaker" forms.
Our A4 is due to be released in Q1 2019 at a price of £750. Click HERE to pre-order yours and to follow the development of the model.
(The First EP for the model)
Hornby are to release two new versions of "Mallard" in OO Gauge, you can now pre-order a special 80th-anniversary commemorative box set, complete with a gold-plated A4 or you can opt for the new model of Mallard as it is currently in preservation. Both of these items are due in stock within the next month.
We currently have a limited supply of N gauge A4 locomotives from Dapol in both its LNER garter blue specification and later BR green livery. Check out the "record breaker" spec loco below or click HERE to see the full list of those available.