Picture Post: A lost era of elegance evoked by the knight train

LNER Class A4 Sir Nigel Gresley arrives into Levisham Station on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. PIC: Anna Gowthorpe
LNER Class A4 Sir Nigel Gresley arrives into Levisham Station on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. PIC: Anna Gowthorpe
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YOU don’t have to be a trainspotter to marvel at this great feat of engineering.

Aside from their sleek power and beauty, there is something about the sight and sound of a steam locomotive that instantly transports you back in time.

And the sight of the Doncaster-built A4 Sir Nigel Gresley, seen here pulling into Levisham Station on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, is a princely one.

As you might expect this iconic LNER Class locomotive has a long and distinguished history.

The Sir Nigel Gresley was the 100th Gresley Pacific built by the Great Western Railway and London & North Eastern Railway.

Built in 1937, the locomotive, named after its designer, entered service in November that year.

It was based for the most part at London King’s Cross with a spell at Grantham during the Second World War.

On June 3, 1956 it carried the Royal Train from King’s Cross to York with the Queen on board.

Three years later it flew into the history books by breaking the post-war speed steam record after reaching 112mph (180kmh) with a full train of passengers on May 23, 1959.

The ‘A4 Preservation Society’ was formed in 1964 and saved the famous locomotive for posterity a couple of years later.

In January 1985, the Sir Nigel Gresley launched the ‘Famous trains’ stamps at Marylebone station and it went on to spend time based at the East Lancashire Railway.

For the past 20 years, however, its home has been the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, where where its streamlined beauty continues to be admired not only by countless train enthusiasts but also ordinary members of the public.

The Sir Nigel Gresley is the only A4 class locomotive owned by a charitable trust which is dedicated to its preservation.

You can read about steam trains in books, watch them in old films and even see them gleaming silently in museums, but nothing quite matches the sight of one of these majestic machines as they speed through the countryside in full cry.

Technical details: Camera Info Nikon D4, 24-70mm lens, 500 sec @ F11, ISO 200