Baston author looks at how the record breaking Mallard run struck a blow to the Nazis
The story of how a record-breaking steam engine struck a pre-war blow against the Nazis, right here in south Lincolnshire, is told in a new book.
Author Robin Jones, from Baston, puts this new spin on a familiar tale in ‘Mallard – Steaming Into Immortality’.
The famous blue loco became the fastest steam engine in history when it reached a speed of 126.1mph on July 3, 1938.
But Robin believes the feat – which was never matched or bettered by steam locomotives – transcended railway folklore.
“What I like about the
story of that record run was that it was a symbol of what was to come in future years,” he said.
“Nazi Germany had set a record for the world’s fastest steam loco in 1936, and then you had the LNER (London and North Eastern Railway) in Lincolnshire and this group of people.
“They made a cover story they were brake testing and it was only when they got to Grantham that the real reason was revealed – they were going to take the record back.”
The Nazis had been desperate to show the world their superiority, particularly in technology, with leading
figures Heinrich Himmler and
Reinhard Heydrich passengers on that train. So when Mallard snatched the record back on the East Coast Main Line at Stoke Bank, near Little Bytham, Robin
believes it put a dent in the
“The Nazis had been beating the drum about everything and suddenly there was silence,” he added. A group of unassuming people went out on Sunday morning and overtook the record that Nazi Germany had been shouting about, and all the jack boots and goose-stepping had been defeated at a stroke.
“Mallard is more than just a steam engine – it is a symbol of future national pride.
“It was a wonderful story for Lincolnshire and should be shouted from the rooftops.
“The record was set here, not London or on the prairies of the United States.”
The book documents the history of Mallard and the A4 Pacific class to which it
belonged, designed by Nigel Gresley who was also responsible for the iconic Flying Scotsman.
Robin has edited Heritage Railway magazine since its
inception. He has written a string of books on transport, but also on a broad range of topics. Yet his interest in steam runs deep.
“I was a railway enthusiast from a very young age,” he
explained. “My brother used to take me train spotting from the age of four or five. I just like the community within railway preservation and they tend to get things done.”
‘Mallard – Steaming Into Immortality’ is available in bookshops, from www.mortonsbooks.co.uk or by calling 01507 529529.