Speed record train driver lies in an unmarked Doncaster grave - let's campaign to change that

He was the Doncaster railwayman who holds a special place in history.

By David Kessen
Friday, 12th February 2021, 7:00 am

But Joe Duddington, the man who drove the famous Mallard steam engine when it set the world speed record in 1938, lies in an unmarked grave in the town’s Hyde Park Cemetery.

Today, the Doncaster Free Press is launching a campaign alongside Friends of Hyde Park Cemetery (FOHPC) to buy and install a memorial to Joe.

The friends group realised that Mr Duddington lay in an unmarked grave last year when they asked where his grave was in the cemetery, which they help look after.

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Matthew Delaney, Great Grandson of Joe and Helen Slade, of FOHPC, by the unmarked grave of Joe Duddington. Picture: NDFP-09-02-21-Duddington 3-NMSY

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We are looking to help them raise money to install a headstone, which would make reference to his place in railway history.

The campaign will work with Joe’s surviving relatives to create a fitting tribute to him.

Lynsey Slater, from Friends of Hyde Park Cemetery, said: “We felt he was an important figure in the railway history of Doncaster and the country and his grave should be marked.”

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)

Nancy Fielder, editor at the Doncaster Free Press, said: “Joe Duddington has a unique place in Britain’s history, and we feel it is important that his contribution is recognised.

"It is sad that his grave is unmarked, and we hope to help change that. That is why we are launching our Remember Joe campaign alongside the efforts of Friends of Hyde Park.”

Lynsey said the friends group carry out a lot of research into the cemetery and the people buried there. She said there are many unmarked graves there, and it was not unusual.

They had not been aware that Joe was buried at Hyde Park until they received the inquiry, but it was confirmed from historical records, which also showed where the plot was.

Date: 9th February 2021. Picture James Hardisty. Matthew Delaney, the Great Grandson of Joseph Duddington, the engine-driver of one of the most famous locomotive LNER Class A4 4468 Mallard. Built by the London & North Eastern Railway at Doncaster Works, England in 1938. The Mallard, is historically significant as the holder of the world speed record for steam locomotives at 126 mph (203 km/h). Matthew, visited Hyde Park Cemetery, in Doncaster, after been contacted by Friends of Hyde Park Cemetery, who informed him that site E303 which has know headstone at the moment is the actual burial site of his late grandad a place that Matthew and his familt didn't know it existed until now. Friends of Hyde Park Cemetery, and Matthew's family are now planning to raises funds for a proper headstone in memory Joseph Duddington. Pictured A photograph of Joseph Duddington along with a handwritten note by Joseph dated 1938 stating they had made a world record of 125mph on the Mallard.

We are looking to help the Friends of Hyde Park Cemetery raise an initial £2,000 to pay for a memorial with stories over the coming weeks. Anything they raise beyond that will be used to help further explain what Joe did.

Donations can be made by PayPal, cheque or bank transfer. All details about methods of donation are on www.fohpc.org.uk/duddington.

Joe Duddington was the driver of Mallard on it's famous record-breaking run on July 3, 1938, after being hand-picked by the famous railway engineer Sir Nigel Gresley as he was an experienced and trusted driver.

Joe was accompanied by fireman Thomas Bray.

Date: 20th December 2020. Picture James Hardisty. National Railway Museum York, is looking ahead to the New Year 2021 and hopes visitors will once again return to one of Yorkshire iconic tourist attractions which celebrates the past, present and future of innovation on the railways. Pictured Cleaner Rachael Whitewood-Moores, taking care to clean in the shadow of one of the most famous trains the Mallard, the world’s fastest steam locomotive.

In a newspaper interview at the time, Joe described how the journey was so smooth that 'cups of tea which were laid out in one of the coaches were not spilt, which shows how steadily she ran' .

A special carriage recorded a peak speed of 126 mph. The previous world record for steam locomotives had been set in Germany in May 1935, with a top speed of 124.5 mph.

Joe retired from the LNER in 1944, and died in April 1953, aged 76.

He was buried with his first wife, Mary, who died in 1921. He got married again, to second his wife, Florence, in 1935.

Joe lived around the Hyde Park area throughout his life, but later moved to Dunscroft, living on Broadway.

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.

Joe Duddington campaign logo