Flying Scotsman designer honoured in Edinburgh

He was born by chance in Edinburgh but his creations will be forever associated with Scotland.

Saturday, 17th June 2017, 10:05 pm
Updated Monday, 19th June 2017, 12:57 pm
Sir Nigel Gresley with the train named after him.
Sir Nigel Gresley with the train named after him.

Now Sir Nigel Gresley’s birthplace in the capital will be marked with the unveiling of a commemorative plaque tomorrow on the 141st anniversary of his arrival.

Gresley is renowned as one of Britain’s greatest railway engineers, whose locomotives included the record-breaking Flying Scotsman and the Mallard, which helped revolutionise cross-Border travel.

The Flying Scotsman hauled the first non-stop train between London and Edinburgh in 1928, while Mallard still holds the 126mph steam record.

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Gresley was born in Edinburgh only because his mother had travelled from the family home in England to consult a specialist gynaecologist.

He was the youngest of five children, his father a church rector in Netherseal, Derbyshire.

The bronze plaque, produced by Historic Environment Scotland in conjunction with the Gresley Society, will be dedicated at 32 Dublin Street in the New Town by Transport Scotland rail director Bill Reeve.

The occasion promises to be less controversial than the society’s unveiling of a statue to Gresley at King’s Cross Station in London last year.

A mallard duck was removed from the design after his family said it would detract from the monument’s dignity.

Libby Ranzetta, who campaigned for the duck’s reinstatement, said: “It’s good to see a second Edinburgh plaque to Sir Nigel [the first was erected at Waverley Station in 2001]. Hopefully it will bring the great man to more people’s notice.

“Unfortunately, when the people responsible for the statue at King’s Cross chose to axe the mallard from its final design, they may as well have commissioned a standalone plaque.”

John Cameron, the society’s Fife-based president, said the plaque was “a reminder of the close connection Sir Nigel had with Scotland throughout his working life”.

Reeve said: “I sincerely 
hope Sir Nigel’s achievements will stimulate young people to pursue the rewarding career of railway engineering.”