Prog rock band Big Big Train back Doncaster Free Press Mallard driver memorial campaign

They are the prog rock band who handed Joe Duddington a place in music history – and they have joined the fight to make sure the legendary Doncaster engine driver gets a fitting memorial.

Monday, 1st March 2021, 4:45 pm

Joe, the Doncaster railwayman who drove the famous steam engine Mallard when it broke the world speed record for a steam train in 1938, is currently buried in an unmarked grave at Hyde Park Cemetery.

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Now the group of Big Big Train, has joined the Free Press in the campaign to build a headstone for Joe, some 68 years after he died. Friends of Hyde Park Cemetery say they now have enough in donations to go ahead with the project.

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Big Big Train performing in front of a picture showing Joe Duddington and Mallard. Picture: Simon Hogg.

Big Big Train, who have a top 40 album under their belt and play gigs to audiences of over 1,000, wrote a song that mentioned Joe, about Mallard’s famous run and display a picture of him at their shows.

Founder member Greg Spawton wrote the song East Coast Racer, and including the lines: “Joe and Tommy on the plate, Their caps are worn in racing style, Elbows jutting from the cab, Working every hour they had, To build the fire, to drive the engine, Looking to the road ahead.”

They put out support for the campaign on social media and saw many of their fans donate to the appeal.

Greg, aged 55, whose dad was a railwayman, said: “We don’t write many songs about trains, but I was fascinated about the story of Mallard – it was a great story about people working together for something amazing.

Remember Joe campaign

"If you do a song about history, you have to do a lot of reading, and I found out that Joe would wear his cap like a racing driver on the footplate. We project an image of him when we finish the song on stage. It’s about Joe, and Tommy Bray, his firemen, and the story of Mallard.

"We have an active social media page, and someone drew our attention to there being no headstone on Joe’s grave. We did a some posts, and our fans dug deep.”

Friends of Hyde Park Cemetery are looking at the design of a memorial, with a mock-up set to be created allowing them to look at the different options.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.

Greg Spawton. PIcture: Simon Hogg.
Big Big Train performing in front of a picture showing Mallard. Picture: Simon Hogg.