Fond farewells to Sir Nigel Gresley steam engine

The Sir Nigel Gresley travelling along the Pickering to Goathland line in the North Yorkshire Moors. Picture: Andrew McCaren/AM images
The Sir Nigel Gresley travelling along the Pickering to Goathland line in the North Yorkshire Moors. Picture: Andrew McCaren/AM images
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EVEN THE best need a rest and so one of Britain’s most iconic and fastest locomotives is being readied for a final trip through the region’s countryside.

Rail enthusiasts will have the chance to bid farewell to the 60007 Sir Nigel Gresley steam engine when it travels between Pickering and Grosmont on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway (NYMR) during the weekend of September 19-20.

Peter James works on the smoke box of the Sir Nigel Gresley in the yard at Grosmont.  Picture: Gerard Binks.

Peter James works on the smoke box of the Sir Nigel Gresley in the yard at Grosmont. Picture: Gerard Binks.

But it is not goodbye, with the locomotive being taken out of service so that it can be given an overhaul which includes a detailed boiler inspection and repair. The work is expected to take up to three years.

Owned and operated since 1966 by a separate charitable Trust, Sir Nigel Gresley has been closely associated with the NYMR for the past decade, but before its farewell journey it will head to Scotland as a standby engine for the Royal Train which will be working on Wednesday to convey the Queen to the official opening of the Border Railway – a new 30-mile stretch of track linking Edinburgh, Galashiels and Tweedbank.

Philip Benham, the NYMR’s managing director, said: “Whilst some of our customers will doubtless be disappointed that Sir Nigel is away for a few days I am sure they will understand the significance of the event we are supporting and I would encourage them to come to the goodbye gala weekend instead.”

Sir Nigel Gresley is one of just six A4 “Pacific” type locomotives remaining in the world. Four are based in the UK, the other two are in North America. The rest were scrapped during the Beeching era.

Distinguished by its striking blue paintwork, Sir Nigel was built in 1937.

She was the 100th engine of the Pacific type to be built by the London and North Eastern Railway and was named after her designer, the LNER’s chief mechanical engineer.

Sir Nigel is also a record breaker. It is credited with holding the post-war speed steam record after reaching 112 miles per hour with a full train of passengers on May 23, 1959.