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Loco to mark speed milestone

Rail enthusiasts gathered today to see a historic locomotive mark a milestone by racing at the fastest speed travelled by as steam train in almost half a century.

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Mallard record: background

For no more than a couple of minutes on July 3rd, 1938, Mallard thundered along at speeds that have remained unmatched by any steam locomotive for three-quarters of a century. A handful of men in soot-stained overalls had pushed the roaring engine to 126mph, marking the pinnacle of steam power.

Despite its unique place in history, Mallard was one of 35 near-identical A4-class locomotives designed by renowned engineer Sir Nigel Gresley - the man behind the Flying Scotsman. Organisers say the anniversary celebration is a "a once-in-a-lifetime" event.

What we're planning is a major celebration - people will be coming from four corners of the earth. The gathering of the six locomotives is the jewel in the crown really. Mallard didn't really set out on that run to be a record-breaker, They went to see what they could get out of it and it had a test car on the back which was noting down all the measurements."And they got the chance really on Stoke Bank. And they went for it. They knew that the only chance they could get to go that fast was on this part of the line.

The record was made over not more than a couple of miles. It was quite a short distance but it was enough to get Mallard's place in the record books.

– Anthony Coulls, senior curator of rail vehicle collections

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