Ex-Mallard fireman, 91, reunited with record-breaking loco

A 91-year-old former steam locomotive fireman has been reunited with the famous record-breaking engine he worked on when he was just 16.

Len Lowther spent two years as part of the Mallard's crew in the late 1940s in Doncaster, the city where it was built.

Now living in a care home in Knaresborough, Mr Lowther was taken to visit the A4 Pacific locomotive at the National Railway Museum in York.

Mallard still holds the world steam speed record of 126mph (203 km/h), which was set in 1938.

As a fireman, Mr Lowther's physically demanding job was to stoke the engine's boilers by shovelling the coal that fed the fire.

Decades later, revisiting the locomotive, he said: "It was a real thrill to find the Mallard being so well looked after."

The outing, organised by Manor House care home, marked the first time Mr Lowther had ever visited the museum.

“I had great fun reminiscing about those days," he said.

"I was able to have my picture taken alongside it and tell people about the work I did – including playing brag with my co-workers in the fire box."

Care home staff described the retired railwayman as a "celebrity" as he was always able to share his memories of the Mallard, which was based at the Doncaster engine sheds until 1943, with other visitors.

Mallard was built in 1938 at Doncaster Plant Works.

Designed by Sir Nigel Gresley for the London North Eastern Railway, the streamlined engine hauled trains such as the non-stop Elizabethan Express between London and Edinburgh.

It was retired from mainline working in 1963 and made its last operational run on a commemorative journey between Doncaster and Scarborough in 1988 before entering museum preservation.

Follow BBC Yorkshire on Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), and Instagram. Send your story ideas to yorkslincs.news@bbc.co.uk.

More on this story

Related links