Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways

July 2nd 2013

F&WHR marks Mallard anniversary

To mark this historic event, one of the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railway's locomotives has been fitted with the whistle from Mallard's 1935 sister locomotive, Silver King, which was taken out of service in 1965.

The whistle – and Gresley's A4 Pacifics – have a strong link with the F&WHR, as one of the LNER's best-known drivers, Bill Hoole, drove the class regularly between London and Scotland and moved to Porthmadog to become a driver on the Ffestiniog Railway when he left King's Cross shed. He was given the engraved chime whistle on his retirement in 1959 and last year it was presented to the F&WHR by Hoole's grandson, Bill Poacher.

Red Garratt NG/G16 No. 138, built in Manchester in 1958, now carries the whistle and Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland trains on the 3rd are carrying special headboards to mark the anniversary of Mallard's achievement, albeit at a rather more sedate pace.

In 1959, another A4, Sir Nigel Gresley, driven by Bill Hoole, set the post-war speed record of 112mph, also on Stoke Bank. He was later unofficially reported as having driven the same loco at 117 mph.

Hoole drove on the FR from 1959 until his death in 1979 and is buried in Minffordd Cemetery, his gravestone reading Bill Hoole: Engineman Extraordinary.

The A4 class was designed for sustained 100+mph (160+km/h) running and the A4's three-cylinder design made for stability at speed, and the large 6ft8in (2.03m) driving wheels meant that the maximum revolutions per minute was within the capabilities of the technology of the day. Mallard was only five months old, meaning that it was sufficiently broken-in to run freely, but not overly worn. Selected to crew the locomotive on its record attempt were driver Joseph Duddington and fireman Thomas Bray.

138 will carry the whistle and headboard on the 0935 and 1540 departures from Porthmadog and the 1255 from Caernarfon on Wednesday July 3rd 2013.

Fireman Tesni Jones on 138 with the A4 whistle
Silver King at Newcastle
Silver King's whistle on 138

Silver King
Silver King's whistle on 138
Bill Hoole's grandson, Bill Poacher, presents the whistle to Richard Hanlon at Boston Lodge.

Silver King's whistle on 138
Silver King
Bill Hoole with Blanche and the A4 whistle

138 heads for Caernarfon carrying the whistle

© Copyright 2018 by Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways