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Celebrating a Master of Engineering - Sir Nigel Gresley

Celebrating a Master of Engineering - Sir Nigel Gresley



A big hello and welcome to The Engine Shed. Well here we are, the New Year is well under way and we are just about recovered from the festivities of the previous month and back into the swing of things once again.

As we mentioned in the previous blog post, December and January are traditionally quieter months in the Development office as far as receiving samples and development updates are concerned, but this being said there are some exciting updates in the pipeline so look out for those.

For this week’s edition we wanted to cover a man whose name has been in the press a great deal in the last few weeks, what with the Flying Scotsman returning to the tracks once again, and a rather controversial commemoration attempt - if we were to say “bronze Mallard” to you, you’d probably have a good idea what we were talking about!


Reeves-Hazel-Sir-Nigel-Gresley-Mallard-no_21 Original Casting-webHazel Reeves's original casting of the Sir Nigel Gresley Statue - Copyright www.gresleyduck.org


2016 will mark the 75th anniversary of Sir Nigel Gresley’s passing, and in commemoration, in April a statue will be unveiled at King's Cross Station in London. Originally, at the feet of the great man was a small duck waddling nicely, however due to the objections of some this has now been removed and the argument over whether or not the Mallard at his feet should have been included rages on, with some fairly strong opinions from both sides being voiced in the press and on the internet. We won’t go into whether or not we think it’s a good idea, but here at Hornby, we wanted to mark this poignant anniversary in our own way.




Considered by many to be one of the outstanding locomotive engineers in the world, even in a country renowned for its railway engineers, Sir Nigel Gresley (1876-1941) is a name known to many, even outside the railway world, with the Flying Scotsman and Mallard being names that transcend just the appreciation of railway enthusiasts. By way of recognition of the truly outstanding achievements and contributions of Sir Nigel Gresley, we are proud to present four special edition locomotives;  ‘A3’ 2503 Firdaussi, ‘A4’ 4494 Osprey, A1’ 2554 Woolwinder and ‘P2’ 2001 Cock o’ the North, presented as originally out-shopped in a gloss LNER lined green finish, which will stand out in any collection, much like the original locos do in railway engineering history.


LNER ‘A3’ 4-6-2 2503 Firdaussi


gresley-collection-Firdaussi-webLNER ‘A3’ 4-6-2 2503 Firdaussi


A modification of Sir Nigel Gresley’s original A1 design, the LNER’s A3 locomotives were the stalwarts of the East Coast Main Line Express services from the mid-1920s, right up until 1961, when they were replaced by English Electric Deltics.

No. 2503 Firdaussi was built at Doncaster and entered service on August 11, 1934, being allocated initially to Gateshead shed. During her career, which continued to November 18, 1963, Firdaussi moved between sheds, being variously allocated between Gateshead, Heaton, Darlington, Holbeck and Neville Hill. On withdrawal, the locomotive was moved to Darlington Works for disposal, being cut up at the end of December 1963.


LNER ‘A4’ 4-6-2 4494 Osprey


gresley-collection-Osprey-webLNER ‘A4’ 4-6-2 4494 Osprey, LNER lined apple green.


Probably the most iconic Pacific Express design of locomotive in Great Britain, the LNER Gresley A4, with its streamlined casing, was a classic symbol of the attitude towards speed and design in the 1930s.

Built at Doncaster works, 4494 Osprey entered service on August 12, 1937 in LNER Apple Green, being allocated to Heaton Shed in Newcastle. A year later, Osprey was repainted to Garter Blue and stayed in this livery until August 21, 1942 when the locomotive received a new boiler, a new livery of Wartime Black and a new name, Andrew K McKosh.


LNER ‘A1’ 4-6-2 2554 Woolwinder


gresley-collection-woolwinder-webLNER ‘A1’ 4-6-2 2554 Woolwinder


The LNER Pacific story began with the A1 Pacifics, the first two of which were built in the twilight years of the Great Northern Railway (GNR), Gresley confidently claiming that his A1s would pull 600 ton trains which, in September 1922, No.1471 did. Compared to the similar Raven A2, Gresley's A1 consumed less coal and water and was considered the better design, with scope to be more readily developed and so the A1 design was chosen over the A2

No.2554 Woolwinder was delivered to Doncaster shed on December 31, 1924 and was one of the later A3 rebuilds, the work taking place at the end of April 1942. Withdrawn from service on September 4, 1961, Woolwinder was cut up at Doncaster works at the end of the month.


LNER ‘P2’ 2-8-2 2001 Cock O’ The North


gresley-collection-Cockothnorth-webLNER ‘P2’ 2-8-2 2001 Cock O’ The North


The Edinburgh to Aberdeen mainline, noted for its steep gradients and tight curves was problematic for the LNER. Double-headed Pacific class locomotives were prohibited from the line, so the heaviest traffic was usually handled by double-heading two smaller engines. Sir Nigel Gresley’s answer to this was a Mikado (2-8-2) design, with four driving axles for greater adhesion compared to that of an A3 Pacific.

In December 1934, seven months after completion, No. 2001, accompanied by O.V.S. Bulleid, travelled to the locomotive testing station at Vitry-sur-Seine in France for two months of testing. The ambitious programme had mixed success, due to problems maintaining boiler pressure and overheating axleboxes and bearings, but following further testing back in England, Cock o' the North entered service on the Scottish routes.

No. 2001 Cock o' the North had its streamlining fitted in April 1938 and was rebuilt as an A2/2 shortly after, in June 1944. Withdrawn from 50A North York shed on February 8, 1960, Cock o' the North was cut up at Doncaster at the end of the month.





Gresley-collection-certificate-webEach loco comes with its own Certificate of Authenticity


Our commemorative Limited Edition Gresley collection will be ready for release later this Spring, each coming with its own certificate of authenticity. The distribution of the Sir Nigel Gresley Collection will be carefully controlled and only complete sets of four locomotives will be released to retailers and Hornby website customers. The four locomotives will be supplied with matching limited edition certificate numbers. It is recommended that you pre-order your collection to avoid disappointment.

Duck debates to one side, we’re almost certain that you’d agree that Sir Nigel Gresley is, in engineering terms, up there with George Stephenson and IK Brunel and a commemoration of any sort might seem somewhat unworthy considering the legacy he left behind – let’s face it, a lot of our layouts would be pretty bare without him! This being said, we’re extremely proud of these locos, and hope you enjoy them as well! R3500 - The Sir Nigel Gresley Collection is available for pre-order now, Take a look for a complete history of the locos in the collection and more about the man himself!


Touched by the master, Gresley's signature on plans - one of my engineering idols-webGresley's Signature on plans - "Nigel Gresley was every bit as much of a childhood hero to me as Roy Chadwick and R.J Mitchell" - Paul Isles, Hornby Researcher


So what do you think? Let us know in the usual places, (Facebook, Twitter and of course, who could forget... Our Official Forum!).

Before we go, you’ll remember in our New Year’s Engine Shed post, we set a competition for you to suggest what you’d like to see covered in future editions of The Engine Shed. Well, after lots and lots of entries and suggestions, we can confirm that the winning suggestion came from Forum user LC&DR, who made this suggestion:

22-01-2016 Competition winnerFINAL

Congratulations LC&DR we will be in contact very soon with details of your prize. Thank you for all of your suggestions and remember, just because your suggestion wasn't chosen as the winner doesn't mean your subject won't be covered, we have some very exciting plans for The Engine shed for 2016 so keep your eyes out!

Thank you for reading, and until next time, happy modelling!


The Engine Shed Team


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