Mallard 75: The Great Gathering
|Bittern, my favourite engine.|
My dad’s a model railway enthusiast (recently switched from N-gauge to finescale, tiny toy fans!) and grew up in Swindon, home of the Great Western Railway works, so as far back as I can remember I’ve seen toy trains and visited the real thing. However, I only recently got interested in engines myself, and that was when Bittern, one of the A4s, puffed past my office. It was painted up to look like the Dominion of New Zealand, but still had its own number. I had never seen such a beautiful train! To see that art deco shape steam by was wonderful. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to see it close up.
|Mallard and Dominion of Canada, before it got REALLY crowded.|
|The fastest steam engine wheels on Earth!|
Away from the A4s there were lots of other fantastic things to see, including a model of Stephenson’s Rocket, the Flying Scotsman, and some Royal train carriages. George VII insisted on a smoking carriage in his train, all comfy leather seats and shiny wood. (Seeing that reminded me of Fleur de Guerre’s King’s Ginger adventures.) There was also a display of posters selling the notion of speed and the railway - there were some gorgeous art deco posters in that section. And the National Railway Museum café sells the finest sausage rolls I’ve eaten in my life. Seriously, if you’re a meat eater, go and have a pork and apple one, you won’t regret it.
|One of the carriages in the Royal Train.|
If you do go and are able to make a donation to this free-to-all museum, remember to Gift Aid it if you’re a UK taxpayer so the Government will give the museum extra cash. And don’t go without having a sausage roll!