Sunday, 14 October 2012

The Etymology of the Most Famous Steam Locomotives in History

Flying Scotsman was named such for it was chosen to haul the non-stop London to Edinburgh run. Indeed the engine was at the head of the inaugural service on May 1st 1928.

Golden Arrow is the train as much as the engine. It refers to the express service between London and the ferry to Europe from Dover, where the engine pulling it would be emblazoned with a diagonal golden arrow on the front, which copies the symbol shown on advertising posters, effectively showing the southeast direction taken to reach the boats.

The London and North Eastern Railway Class A4 4-6-2 Pacific serial number 1870 was built at Doncaster in 1938 and, as any railway enthusiast will be aware, was named Mallard. It was in service until 1963 during which time the 165 ton locomotive covered almost two and a half million miles.

The distinctive shape and garter blue with red wjeels and rims mark Mallard out as a special engine. Sir Nigel Gresley designed and built this A4, which was later tested in a wind tunnel to prove its streamlining. Made to exceed a sustained speed of over 100mph on a regular basis, it was the night of 3rd July 1938 when this vehicle ensured a permanent place in the record books. On a slight downslope south of Grantham the engine reached a speed of 125.88mph, a world record speed for a steam engine which will undoubtedly never be broken.

Sir Nigel Gresley takes the name of arguably the most famous of steam locomotive engineers who worked for the London and North Eastern Railway. His designs were marked by their elegance, both aesthetically and mechanically and many of the best known engines in British history can be attributed to him.

City of Truro was built at Swindon in 1903 and most often cited as the first steam locomotive to exceed a speed of one hundred miles per hour. This happened in May 1904 when hauling the Ocean Mails special from Plymouth to London Paddington. This was one of ten City Class engines built at the Great Western Railway works at Swindon and named after cities on the GWR routes.

I would welcome any suggestions for themes or subjects, or even specific words to examine the origins, meanings and etymologies. I’d be delighted to hear from you.

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