Memorial plaque for fireman Tommy Bray in world speed record breaking  Mallard train

A Doncaster Railwayman who fired the engine during the historic world speed record breaking trip by the iconic Mallard locomotive has finally had his achievement commemorated.

By Kev Rogers
Monday, 5th July 2021, 2:37 pm
The memorial to Thomas Henry Bray which will be unveiled in a ceremony at Rosehill Crematorium.
The memorial to Thomas Henry Bray which will be unveiled in a ceremony at Rosehill Crematorium.

Thomas Bray born in 1898, was the fireman on the A4 Pacific Class Locomotive ‘Mallard’ when it broke the world speed record for a steam locomotive on the 3rd of July 1938.

Tommy worked alongside Joe Duddington – the man who drove the famous steam engine at 126mph. Both men were from Doncaster.

Following a campaign in the Doncaster Free Press earlier this year a headstone was placed on the unmarked grave of Mr Duddington.

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3rd June 1938: Fireman T H Bray on the left and next to him Driver R J Duddington who made history by driving the LNER locomotive 'Mallard' at 125mph. They are in the dynamometer car at Kings Cross station, London studying the instruments which recorded the record-breaking feat. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)

Now thanks to campaigner Andy Harbon and Doncaster Bereavement Services, his colleague on the legendary drive has also been recognised with a memorial plaque to be placed in the grounds of Rosehill Crematorium where his ashes were scattered after he passed away in 1966.

Andy said: “It has been my passion to see that Joe Duddington and Tommy Bray are properly recognised for their achievement in 1938. I used to be part of the Friends of Hyde Park Cemetery and it was through my research that the group was able to find Joe’s grave in Hyde Park Cemetery in Doncaster.

“Following the interest in Joe’s unmarked grave, and the campaign to raise money to place a monument there, I took it upon myself to find out what had happened to Tommy Bray, also a Doncaster man.

“I had posted an article on the Looking Back at Doncaster FaceBook group, which received very positive views, but there was a constant theme “What about the fireman?”.

“I knew he wasn’t in Hyde Park Cemetery, and I eventually found that he had been cremated at Rose Hill Cemetery in December 1966, with some welcome support from staff at Doncaster Council’s Bereavement Services.

Mr Harbon was put in touch with Tommy Bray’s Grandson Cliff Bray, who is also a retired locomotive driver.

He said: “On the 19th of February I met Cliff at Rose Hill together with Adrian Pickersgill Head of Bereavement Services and Steve Buck, his deputy.

“They showed Cliff the remembrance garden where his Grandad’s ashes were buried in 1966.

We then discussed a memorial of some type for Tommy and this is where we were given some great news. Adrian and Steve want to place a stone at the location (actually a double stone) at the expense of Bereavement Services to remember Tommy and what he achieved. It has to be in keeping with what is already there.

This was so much more than I could have hoped for and I was fully expecting to try to raise more money for Tommy. Adrian and Steve are clearly committed to remembering those that have contributed to our Town’s history, and Tommy is definitely one who needs remembering.

Cliff Bray, 66 was 11 when his grandfather died. Both Cliff and his grandfather worked at the Doncaster Carr locomotive shed. Mr Bray worked 43 years on the footplate and worked alongside railwaymen who had known his grandad.

He said; “My grandfather was a very hard worker and shifted tons and tons of coal. I think he deserves this memorial for his achievement. He didn’t say much about it but it was very well known what he had done in the family.”