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Sir Herbert Nigel Gresley


1876 - 1941

Railway engineer. Although born in Edinburgh while his mother was consulting a doctor in the city, Gresley was the fifth child of a Derbyshire clergyman and spent his working life in England. He was educated at Marlborough College and began his career as an engineering apprentice in the railway works at Crewe. In 1905 he moved to Doncaster, his base for much of his career. In 1911 he was appointed Chief Mechanical Engineer of the Great Northern Railway (GNR) and continued in this role when the company became the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) in 1923.

Gresley became one of the most influential locomotive designers in the UK with his famous Pacific Class of large locomotives. These included the record-breaking Flying Scotsman (1923) which ran the world's longest non-stop service from London to Edinburgh from 1928 and was also the first locomotive to officially reach 100 mph (161 km/hr) in 1934. The ultimate expression of the Pacific Class was Mallard (1938), which still holds the world speed record for a steam engine at 126 mph (203 km/hr).

A keen golfer, Gresley was invited to open the Queen's Course at Gleneagles and also took regular golfing holidays in North Berwick. He was knighted in 1936 and died in England five years later, from heart-failure brought on by the intensity of his work.

There is a memorial to him in Waverley Station (Edinburgh), while the 100th of Gresley's Pacific-class locomotives (built in 1937) was named after him and still runs tours for steam enthusiasts on mainline railways.


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