Statue of Doncaster rail pioneer to be unveiled on 75th anniversary of his death

A statue of Doncaster rail pioneer Sir Nigel Gresley is to be unveiled later today on the 75th anniversary of his death.
Sculptor Hazel Reeves with the statue of Sir Nigel Gresley nearing completion.Sculptor Hazel Reeves with the statue of Sir Nigel Gresley nearing completion.
Sculptor Hazel Reeves with the statue of Sir Nigel Gresley nearing completion.

The sculpture will be revealed to the public at London's King's Cross station at 11am today to mark the achievements of Sir Nigel who was responsible for creating Doncaster-built steam loco classics such as Mallard and the Flying Scotsman.

The Gresley Society, a charitable organisation dedicated to the promotion of the man and his achievement, has funded the commisioning of the 8ft bronze statue to be unveiled on the 75th anniversary of his death.

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The ceremony will be performed by Sir Peter Hendy, chairman of Network Rail on the station’s main concourse where he will be joined by members of the Gresley family.

Three quarters of a century ago, in the dark days of war, Sir Nigel, one of Britain’s greatest railway engineers died while still in office as Chief Mechanical Engineer of the London & North Eastern Railway.

The unveiling of the statue is the culmination of an eighteen month project managed and funded by The Gresley Society.

The statue, which is cast in bronze, has been designed and created by Hazel Reeves and is around one fifth larger than life size, enabling the figure of Sir Nigel to stand out above the thousands of passengers that pass through the station every day.

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In his hand Sir Nigel is carrying a copy of ‘The Locomotive’ magazine which carries a depiction of Mallard, one of his A4 streamlined locomotives, that holds the world speed record.

Flying Scotsman, acknowledged as the world’s most famous steam engine, was also to his design, and he brought many innovations to the design of locomotives and railway rolling stock.

Speaking about the ceremony, John Cameron, CBE, President of The Gresley Society, said: “This is a very special day. The Gresley Society are delighted to see this superb statue of Sir Nigel Gresley unveiled at King’s Cross, a place that was so important to his life’s work.

"I congratulate Hazel Reeves on the way she has caught the essence of this great engineer. It will stand as a memorial to his achievements for future generations, and to the quality of British engineering.”

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Talking about the statue, Hazel Reeves said: “Sir Nigel Gresley designed steam engines that pushed boundaries of both speed and elegance of design; I hope that my statue of this great engineer helps ensure his achievements are re-discovered and celebrated for generations to come.”

In all, he was responsible for the design and building of 2150 locomotives and tens of thousands of carriages and wagons.

He died at home unexpectedly on April 5, 1941 at the age of 65 while still in office with the LNER.