Sir Nigel Gresley statue planned for King’s Cross

Sir Nigel Gresley, inset, and the steam locomotive named for him. Picture: National Railway Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Sir Nigel Gresley, inset, and the steam locomotive named for him. Picture: National Railway Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
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PLANS have been unveiled for a statue at King’s Cross Station of renowned engineer Sir Nigel Gresley, who designed locomotives, carriages and wagons for the London & North Eastern Railway between 1923 and his death in 1941.

Sir Nigel’s achievements include the design of the Mallard; the fastest steam locomotive in the world, as well as the Flying Scotsman.

The statue will be cast in bronze, and will stand at around seven feet, six inches tall - on a par with the monument to poet Sir John Betjeman at St Pancras station.

It will be created by Hazel Reeves, who also sculpted maquettes of the figure to help the Gresley Society Trust obtain permission to erect the statue.

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Ms Reeves said she was ‘greatly excited’ to be involved, adding: “Ever since I was asked to make proposals for the statue, and to create maquettes for its evolution, I have been aware of Sir Nigel Gresley and his considerable contribution to the field of engineering.

“Now that we have permission to erect a full-size statue at King’s Cross, I can express my admiration for the man in a very real way.”

The expected cost of the monument has been set at £95,000 - which the Gresley Society Trust is hoping to raise via public subscription.

The statue will be placed in the station’s Western Concourse next to the ticket office and near the West Offices where Sir Nigel and his assistants worked until the outbreak of war.

Sir Nigel will be constructed holding a copy of The Locomotive magazine and will be accompanied by a mallard, symbolic of his iconic locomotive.

The mechanical engineer was also known for rearing mallard ducks at his pre-war home near St Albans.

Next to the monument will be a plaque carrying a QR code, allowing visitors to use their smart phone to find out more about the Gresley Society Trust.

The statue is due to be unveiled on April 5, 2016 on the 75th anniversary of Sir Nigel’s death.

David McIntosh, Chairman of the Gresley Society Trust, said: “This is an inspiring project for the Society.

“In the past we have erected memorials of various kinds in Edinburgh, York and beside the line where Mallard achieved her record speed, and now we are to honour Sir Nigel in London, where he had his office for the last and most productive eighteen years of his life.”

Sir Nigel Gresley

Born Herbert Nigel Gresley in Edinburgh, on June 19, 1876, Sir Nigel Gresley grew up in Derbyshire, attending school in Sussex and at Marlborough College. He served his apprenticeship at the Crewe works of the London & North Western Railway and after a handful of minor appointments, was appointed Outdoor Assistant in the Carriage and Wagon Works with the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway (L&YR) in 1901.

The following year he was appointed Assistant Works Manager at the Newton Heath depot, rising to Works Manager just a year later.

A plaque in Edinburgh Waverley Station, erected in July 2001, commemorates Sir Nigel’s work on the London & North Eastern Railway and recognises him as a native of the city.

Gresley innovations

Among Sir Nigel’s innovations were the largest steam locomotive in the UK; Mallard, the fastest steam locomotive in the world; the Flying Scotsman; the largest passenger steam locomotive in the UK; the Silver Link - a previous holder of the world speed record for steam locomotives - and the articulated railway carriage.

The steam locomotive LNER Class A4 4498 ‘Sir Nigel Gresley’ was named for its designer as it was the 100th Gresley Pacific locomotive.

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