by Phil Marsh

Mallard Million at National Railway Museum

Published: 21st April 2014

New NRM Head Curator appointment announced

The National Railway Museum (NRM) is celebrating a record 2013/14 financial year with what they have said are “exceptional visitor figures” linked to the ‘Mallard 75’ anniversary, especially at their York museum. The northern base at Shildon also hugely contributed to these figures with their ‘Mallard’ themed events.

The ‘Mallard 75’ theme attracted just under a million visitors to the York museum with 25% of these specifically drawn to the LNER A4 events which celebrated the 75th anniversary of the World steam speed record. The previous 12 months visitor numbers reached just shy of 750,000 to the York museum.

To recap, two of Mallard’s classmates, No. 60008 Dwight D. Eisenhower and No. 60010 Dominion of Canada were brought back from America and Canada respectively to join the preserved UK based ‘A4s’. These had been gifted by British Railways in the mid 1960s to the USA and Canada.

After the final gathering at the NRM at Shildon, the engines are o return to their home at the start of May to their respective museums, despite whispers of the owners being offered a million dollars for each one.

There were several main events all featuring the six ‘A4s’ and these the NRM says attracted over a third of a million visitors. The associated media coverage attracted tens of thousands more visitors to York and Shildon. The NRM forecast that about 750,000 people would visit them in the last financial year and this was lifted by 160,000 people because of ‘Mallard 75’ but even the revised estimate was beaten.

The project to repatriate the two locomotives was started by Steve Davies at the NRM who was invited back to the events – he left the NRM last year. The NRM is likely to win several awards for the project as they have been nominated for recognition in many sectors, from tourism to transport.

They said;

Paul Kirkman, Director of the National Railway Museum is thrilled with the result, saying: “It’s been an amazing year for the National Railway Museum, and our increase in visitors at both our Shildon and York sites is mainly due to the staggering success of the Mallard 75 series of events of which HRH, Prince of Wales is Patron. Our Great Gatherings of all six steam survivors set new visitor records in July and February and now the season is over we hope that people will still flock to see the record breaker at its York home and its transatlantic sisters at Shildon this Easter before they make their return voyage in May.”

Back home

After the Shildon ‘A4’ farewell over Easter, the engines were due to be taken by road to Liverpool for transporting back across the Atlantic on 3 or 4th May by Moveright International who has been the museum’s inkind supporter throughout the Mallard 75 season.

Depending on the tides the locomotives will embark on the evening of the 3rd or the morning of the 4th on board one of the ACL fleet of roll-on-roll off vessels, currently scheduled to be Atlantic Cartier.

New post arrives at the NRM

The NRM has announced they have created a new post of Head Curator and recruited Andrew McLean from the National Trust to take up the duties. He has been providing curatorial support, advice and direction for properties across the Trust’s Yorkshire and North East Region.

McLean, an Edinburgh University graduate, has over twenty years’ experience of working with a diverse range of historic collections, many of which are of international significance. His father Allan McLean is well known to as an award winning and regular contributor!

Allan McLean said that he first took ‘his lad’ to the NRM when just five years old the day after its official opening in September 1975.

Andrew McLean’s career in Collections Management began with United Distillers (now Diageo) where he was part of the team that looked after the historical records and artefacts of some of the world’s largest drinks brands including Johnnie Walker whisky and Gordon’s gin.

They said;

The NRM said; "The Head Curator position is a brand new role created as part of the ongoing staffing changes at the National Railway Museum," she said. "The position does hold responsibility for the management of the museum’s diverse collection, which includes high profile locomotives such as Mallard and Flying Scotsman. However all major decisions are made with the involvement of our director, Paul Kirkman."

Says Andrew of his appointment: “I am truly thrilled and honoured to be joining the National Railway Museum. I have had a deep rooted passion for railways for as long as I can recall so the opportunity to work with the National Collection was too good to resist. I’ve been very fortunate in my working life to have been responsible for looking after some of Britain’s finest historic buildings and their remarkable collections.

To have been involved with works created by some of the great figures of British design has been an incredible privilege and now I will be able to extend that list of such names as Adam, Lutyens, Vanbrugh and Chippendale to include such other design greats as Churchward, Bulleid, Stanier and Gresley.”

He will join the NRM team in June and bring a unique blend of collections and management experience with an enthusiasm for all things rail that will ensure the museum continues to thrive as a centre for curatorial excellence.

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