Flying Scotsman and Mallard: LNER celebrates 100 years of history

  • Video report by Sally Simpson

Train operator LNER is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, remembering landmark moments from its history, including multiple speeds records.

The London and North Eastern Railway was formed on 1 January 1923, and went on to become well-known for its high-speed trains.

The original LNER was formed as part of The Grouping, which brought together several companies into one entity established as the main operator on the East Coast Main Line connecting London and Edinburgh.

The Flying Scotsman was the first British steam engine to breach 100mph, setting the record in 1934. Credit: PA

It became famous for its glamorous Art Deco posters of the 1920s and 1930s, which were aimed at persuading people to explore destinations up and down the East Coast route. It also introduced a range of novel services for passengers, including an onboard barber shop and cinema carriage.

The famous Flying Scotsman was the company's first new locomotive and was designed by Sir Nigel Gresley, one of Britain's foremost steam locomotive engineers, and built in Doncaster in 1923. It went on to become the first train in Britain to reach 100mph during a special test run in 1934.

Mallard, also designed by Gresley and built in Doncaster, then went even further, breaking the world land speed record for a steam locomotive in 1938.

The 126mph record was achieved just south of Grantham and still stands today, and the train itself can be seen in the National Railway Museum in York.

Mallard (right) pictured opposite one of LNER's modern Azuma high-speed trains. Credit: PA

Joseph Duddington was Mallard's driver that day, and his great-grandson Matthew Delaney says the engine itself will "always be part of our family".

"We're all so proud of the train, the history, and especially [Duddington]," he said.

"It's a very humbling and moving experience every time I come and see [Mallard]."

Despite some turmoil in the industry today, railway historian Tim Dunn says he believes there are brighter prospects for rail travel in the future.

"Yes there's problems now, but I'm an optimist," he said. "I believe there's a new golden age of rail ahead."

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