Full ahead for Mallard in Grantham
By: Robin Jones
Thousands of visitors are expected to flock to Grantham when world-record setting steam locomotive Mallard returns to the town in September after a 50 year absence.
The event – on Saturday 7 and Sunday 8 – will form part of the 75th anniversary celebrations of when the speed record was set just south of Grantham at Stoke Bank when the A4 Class steam locomotive hit 126mph on July 3, 1938.
The National Railway Museum at York has already received worldwide interest and now a partnership including South Kesteven District Council, Lincolnshire County Council, and major sponsor Carillion Rail (the company that will re-lay the track), in co-operation with East Coast, Network Rail and the National Railway Museum will enable the Mallard to go on show close to the railway station.
Special permission for the event has been granted by the National Rail Museum for the locomotive to leave its usual home in York – only the second time this has happened in recent years.
Mallard will be joined by other historic exhibits as part of a free east coast ‘Story of Speed’ when visitors will get a close up view of the steam icon as well as a chance to view a Deltic locomotive – Mallard’s high speed diesel successor.
Also on display will be streamlined racing cars of the 1930s inspired by the Mallard design and examples of Grantham’s engineering heritage.
An exhibition will track how Britain's first high speed railway was created against international competition.
Plans are also being prepared to have the recreated carriage interior of the ‘Old Gentleman’s carriage’ on display – the same carriage used in the film The Railway Children.
There will also be miniature train rides, vintage bus travel and local heritage society displays as well as children’s rides and local food.
South Kesteven District Council’s portfolio holder for Grow the Economy, Cllr Frances Cartwright, said the event was a perfect fit for the authority’s plans to market the area to developers and investors.
“The Festival underlines Grantham’s brilliant location on the UK’s fastest north-south rail route and emphasises the wider economic opportunities for businesses looking to relocate to Lincolnshire with its rich engineering heritage.
“We will certainly be making sure that our VIP guests see the sites we have available and understand all the advantages of locating here,” said Cllr Cartwright.
Councillor Colin Davie, executive member for economic development at Lincolnshire County Council, added: “Over the coming years, Grantham will play a major role in driving economic growth within Lincolnshire. The arrival of the Mallard will bring the national spotlight to the town, giving us a valuable opportunity to get the message out that Grantham is open for business.
"We'll be doing all we can to highlight to visitors all that the town has to offer as well as upcoming developments, such as the southern relief road. Hopefully, this will encourage a number of businesses to consider having a future in the town."
East Coast stations and property director Tim Hedley-Jones said: “We’re proud to support this exciting event, close to Grantham station, as a celebration of a landmark moment in the history of the East Coast Main Line.
“The locomotive’s record-breaking run at Stoke Bank was a marvellous achievement, which reflected the prestige and importance of this railway to the nation.
“It is entirely appropriate that Mallard will be back in Grantham, for the first time in half a century, as the centrepiece of this wonderful celebration of our railway heritage.”
Mark Davies, managing director of Carillion Rail, the festival’s major sponsor added: “The 1938 record was a great British engineering achievement and can help inspire today’s engineers to excellence. We are pleased to help local partners create this festival.”
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• Next issue on sale: July 31, 2014