THERE was a hero’s return for Mallard as the “celebrity loco” rolled back into York following a year of celebrations to mark the anniversary of its most famous journey.
The Mallard 75 events drew hundreds of thousands of visitors and saw the famous engine tour the UK as steam railway fans commemorated its record breaking 125mph run at Stoke Bank near Grantham.
The celebrations drew to a close yesterday when the engine arrived back in York from its residence at the National Railway Museum in Shildon.
There it was on display with all five of its sister A4 engines, and together they drew more than 100,000 visitors.
Tobias Lumb, senior project manager at the National Railway Museum, was in charge of the Mallard 75 celebrations.
He said: “The Mallard 75 season has been a phenomenal success and thanks go to our sponsor Hornby for helping us to make it happen.
“Just under 120,000 visitors came to see Mallard and all five surviving sisters at our Shildon site – an average of 15,000 a day – which should leave a lasting legacy for that region and for the whole of the UK in terms of creating a new generation of rail fans.
“At all three of our Mallard 75 events you could spot families including all three or even four generations, which is what our showcase of the six steam giants was all about.”
The National Railway Museum marked the anniversary by gathering all six A4 Pacific class engines – Mallard, Sir Nigel Gresley, Dwight D Eisenhower, Dominion of Canada, Bittern and Union of South Africa.
The Shildon event – the Great Goodbye – was the last chance railway buffs had to see the six engines together.
Mr Lumb said: “Now The Great Goodbye is over, Mallard can be seen from tomorrow in York’s Great Hall and will be back in pride of place round the turntable in the coming weeks to tell the story of high speed travel in the 1930s, along with LMS counterpart Duchess of Hamilton.
“With our half-term Train For The Tracks activities extended due to popular demand, we hope the people of York will visit to give our celebrity loco a hero’s welcome.”