Published 30th July 2013
The National Railway Museum (NRM) has announced what is thought to be record visitor numbers who were attracted by the ‘Great Gathering’ event. This celebrated the 75th anniversary of the LNER ‘A4’ steam locomotive No. 4464 Mallard creating the world steam speed record. This engine was joined by the post-war steam world record holder, No. 60007 Sir Nigel Gresley and the other four remaining A4s.
The NRM had its busiest day since records began on Saturday 6 July. The exhibition attracted around 10,000 visitors a day totalling 140,000 by the end of the event, and they came from across the world.
After the crowds had gone home, HRH Prince Charles visited the exhibition on July 22 travelling on the Royal Train from Milford to the museum’s north yard. He is also the anniversary season Royal Patron.
The Museum was closed until 11.30am because of the Royal visit and the Royal Train took HRH Prince Charles on the footplate of another ‘A4’ No. 4464 Bittern into York.
The two A4s repatriated from the North Americas, No. 60008 Dwight D Eisenhower and No. 4489 Dominion of Canada, will remain on display alongside No. 4468 Mallard.
Tobias Lumb, Senior Project Manager at the National Railway Museum said: “We have been thrilled with the success of this Great Gathering and this visit by our patron is the icing on the cake. Our staff have worked hard in pulling together this once-in-a-lifetime spectacular which has seen visitors travel from all over Britain and the world to see this truly international celebration.
The astounding number of visitors demonstrates not only how important Mallard’s story is to the history of our railways, but how much it means to people.
We look forward to our next display showcasing all six survivors of the A4 class from 26 October and particularly the chance to see five take part in the spectacular lighting display ‘Locos in a Different Light’ from 30 October - 2 November.”
Earlier this month, Anthony Coulls Senior Curator of Railway Vehicles at the National Railway Museum said: “Bringing the collection to the widest possible audience is what it’s all about, and this Great Gathering, a fortnight-long exhibition celebrating British engineering genius showcasing all six survivors of the A4 class, is the stuff that dreams are made of.”
The NRM is hosting an art gallery exhibition on the theme of speed ‘It’s Quicker by Rail’ until October. During the school summer holidays, children can build a miniature vehicle, enter it into a race and take part in a family fun trail based on the theme of speed.
On the opening weekend, 27-28 July, families can also see live steam scale model demonstrations by The Gauge One Model Railway Association of Mallard's world-record-breaking run.
If you could not get to York to see ‘The Great Gathering’ then there is another chance in two follow-up events. The ‘Autumn Great Gathering’ is at the NRM in York between October 26 and November 8 while the curtain comes down at Locomotion, the Shildon NRM outpost between February 15 and 23 next year.
Hornby, the main sponsors of the event
Moveright International, Ceres, Peel Ports, ACL, Life Environmental and CNR for their generous support in the repatriation of Dominion of Canada and Dwight D Eisenhower.
Dominion of Canada was cosmetically restored at Locomotion; the National Railway Museum at Shildon from British Railways Green livery into its 1937 as-new form – Garter Blue, with a valanced single chimney, complete with Canadian bell and chime whistle, and replica cabside crests featuring the Royal Coat of Arms of Canada from January - May 2013. The workshop team were assisted by Darlington-based firm M-Machine who also painted Tornado.
Dwight D Eisenhower was cosmetically restored in the National Railway Museum’s workshop during November and December 2012 by Lancashire-based firm Heritage Painting, who also repainted Mallard in August 2012. The cosmetic restoration was a condition of the two year loan agreement. The cosmetic restoration of both engines was a condition of the two year loan agreement.
The owners of No. 60007 Sir Nigel Gresley the Sir Nigel Gresley Locomotive Preservation Trust reported that the ‘Great Gathering’ was a very successful event for them and helped fundraising for the overhaul which could start in two years’ time when the boiler ticket expires.
The SNGLPT are holding their annual members’ day on September 21 at Grosmont on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway.
Written by Phil Marsh