LNER celebrates its 100th anniversary by commemorating the days of Mallard

An unveiling ceremony was held at York Railway Station yesterday, reminiscent of the days when name locomotives like Mallard, Flying Scotsman and Sir Nigel Gresley were the stars of the era.

“After much debate, discussion and much deliberation, we decided that the first name of Azuma should be called ‘Century’ in LNER’s 100th year,” said LNER Managing Director David Horne. “It celebrates 100 years of history and the transformation LNER has undergone, and the naming captures the moment so future generations can look back on this era as we look back on the days of the Flying Scotsman.”

The Northern Echo: David Horne, CEO of LNER, with the Century engine behind him

David Horne, LNER’s CEO, with the Century engine behind him

Built by Newton Aycliffe, the Azuma now not only has a name but also features a new livery celebrating LNER’s history and featuring images of its employees past and present. One such picture shows Joe Duddington at the wheel of the Mallard on July 3, 1938 as it reached 126 miles per hour near Grantham, setting a world record that has never been broken.

Among those watching as Century rolled into York from London’s King’s Cross station at 8.45am was Joe’s great-grandson Matthew Delaney.

“Everyone knows that Lewis Hamilton drives fast cars, that Sir Donald Campbell drove the fastest boat, but nobody knows who drove the fastest train,” Matthew said. “It was just a guy named Joe Duddington who was chosen for the Mallard job by Sir Nigel Gresley because he was a bit of an outsider who ended up working on a fish and chip ship and was buried in an unmarked grave .”

The Northern Echo: Welcoming the renamed Century locomotive into the York station locomotive

The two sides of the Century locomotive feature different historical images. Mallard driver Joe Duddington is on this page in the N of Century. Image: LNER

In 2021, Joe’s grave was officially marked. “And now he’s on the train and he’s back where he belongs,” Matthew said. “It’s a very emotional day.”

The Northern Echo: Carolyn Sheard, seen in the livery of the renamed Century locomotive

Carolyn Sheard (above), a Customer Experience Leader working on board LNER trains, is one of the three current employees pictured in the livery. “I’m really honored,” she said. “It’s so exciting.”

The first London and North Eastern Railway was established on 1 January 1923 when four major railway companies were formed across the country to take control of numerous smaller private companies. LNER was based in York and controlled all routes that were previously part of the Stockton & Darlington Railway.

Sir Nigel Gresley was the first senior mechanical engineer and had a reputation for building super-fast express locomotives, culminating in Mallard.

The Northern Echo:

Sir Nigel Gresley and the record-breaking mallard. Image: Science and Society Image Archive

It became part of British Rail as part of nationalization in 1948 but was reborn as a state company in 2017 to take over operations on the ECML when the private Virgin company collapsed.

“The first LNER was more about freight and moving goods such as coal traffic and steel and agricultural products, while nowadays our main income comes from passengers, but it has always been known for running fast on the ECML and with the airlines and competed with the cars. Which we continue to do today in a greener, more sustainable way,” said Mr. Horne.

He said weekend passenger trains are now 40 per cent busy than before the pandemic as use of the railway continues to shift from freight to leisure travel. This Tuesday and Wednesday this week sees the first major engineering work on the ECML south of York which has traditionally been weekend work but is now intended not to affect leisure passenger traffic.

The Northern Echo: TV railway historian Tim Dunn on the York channel

TV railroad historian Tim Dunn helped found Century (above). He said: “Ever since Locomotion No 1 here in the North East, we’ve been naming engines because we love them. They are like real living, breathing things – even the Azumas of today have personalities, just as the steam engines of the past had personalities. Engine naming is an excellent tactic to get the UK back on track and I look forward to naming more.”

Century will now pull LNER services up and down over the ECML.

https://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/23523155.lner-celebrates-centenary-evoking-days-mallard/?ref=rss LNER celebrates its 100th anniversary by commemorating the days of Mallard


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