LNER A4 Pacifics - Where to find them?



March 4th, 2021

Carrying on from our incredibly popular 'Big Boy' article last month, we take a look at the remaining LNER A4 Pacifics and where they are now following Dieselization of the UK network and the preservation of these impressive locomotives.

Note that during 2021, not all museums and railroads are open or operating and travel is restricted in some jurisdictions. This article serves to provide information for when such restrictions and closures have been lifted. For further details, please contact museums and venues direct.

For many, Nigel Gresley's A4 Pacific locomotives were the pinnacle of what could be achieved by steam. Their slender, streamlined bodywork exudes the essence of speed and remains iconic even today. They were built during the late 1930s for the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) to run between London King's Cross and Newcastle, later venturing further north and into Scotland. Though the regularly attained service speed was in the region of 90mph, one example Mallard cemented the A4's place in history by reaching a recorded 126mph on July 3rd 1938. A4s remain the fastest steam locomotives ever made.

Today, only 6 of the 35 locomotives built still remain either as static displays or as running heritage locomotives.

  • 60007: LNER 4498, or 60007 Sir Nigel Gresley was the 100th example of a Gresley Pacific built and so was named in honor of its designer. Between 1937 and 1966, its career included a number of high speed runs, including breaking the 100mph barrier on regular passenger services and attaining a record speed (since beaten) of 112mph south of Stoke Summit. After withdrawal in 1966, 60007 entered preservation and in 1973 was one of only two A4s able to run on the mainline. Stints at the East Lancashire, North York Moors and Great Central Railways as a heritage locomotive have occurred in recent decades and now the locomotive is undergoing work at the National Rail Museum in York - sadly interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • 60008: It is easy to assume that, as a thoroughly British locomotive, all the A4s have remained at home in Britain. However, with its namesake connection to the wartime administration in the USA, 60008 Dwight D Eisenhower found its way across the Atlantic in preservation and now welcomes visitors to Wisconsin's National Railroad Museum along with 'Big Boy' 4017 and GG1 4890. Prior to WWII, the locomotive was called Golden Shuttle (originally planned to be Sparrow Hawk) but was renamed after the war in honor of the then General and future President of the United States. Eisenhower visited the museum the year it arrived in 1964. You can read more about his connection to American railroads in Gary Dolzall's article 'Farewell to Ike'.

  • 60009: British railfans on the hunt for a running A4 in recent years would almost certainly have caught 60009 Union of South Africa. Excursions and railtours have been up and down the length of Britain since it came out of active service in 1964, from Scotland to Devon and everywhere in between. As a result 60009 has gained the highest mileage of any A4. Mainline certification expired in 2020 and the future of Union of South Africa seems destined for static display, but it is planned to run on the East Lancashire Railway until final withdrawal in 2022. Union-of-South-Africa-We-Are-Railfans-Carlisle 60009 'Union of South Africa' has been up and down the UK to a number of destinations on railtours. Here it is seen at Carlisle Station in the north of England. This photograph is part of an anonymous and previously unpublished collection obtained by We Are Railfans.

  • 60010: Another A4 to make it across the 'pond' is 60010 Dominion of Canada which, having being renamed from Woodcock in 1937 and withdrawn in 1965, was sent for static display in Canada. Along with the naming by High Commissioner of Canada, H. Vincent Massey this A4 also had a Canadian Pacific Railway whistle and bell fitted. After withdrawal, the locomotive was initially left to rot behind a shed and covered by foliage for many years before being sent to the Canadian Railway Museum on the outskirts of Montreal. It was only when it was (temporarily) returned to the UK in 2012 (with 60008) that it was cosmetically restored to its current state. A4-Dominion-of-Canada-Dennis-Jarvis 60010 'Dominion of Canada' on display at the Canadian Railway Museum. Photo by Dennis Jarvis.

  • 60019: LNER 4464 Bittern (at times Silver Link and Dominion of New Zealand) remains as one of the operational A4s, albeit currently awaiting overhaul. Until 1995 this was not the case however and the locomotive was moved between a number of UK museums on static display, including the National Rail Museum in York. Today, Jeremy Hosking is the latest in its line of owners and has stored Bittern at the former Hornby Factory in Margate as part of the planned One:One Collection. A4-Bittern-Kidderminster-Tony-Hisgett-from-Birmingham-UK 60019 / LNER 4464 'Bittern' at Kidderminster Station. Photo by Tony Hisgett from Birmingham, UK CC BY 2.0

  • 60022: Arguably the most famous locomotive in the UK and possibly the world, LNER 4468 Mallard headlines the remaining collection of A4s, despite being a static display for almost all of its post-service life. A few special runs in the North of England took place in the late 1980s, drawing big crowds, but beyond that Mallard has been pride of place in the Great Hall of the National Rail Museum in York. Occasional appearances outdoors have been only for special events, such as the reuniting of all six A4s in 2008 and the introduction of the LNER Azuma trains in 2014. As the world's fastest steam locomotive, Mallard is the celebrity locomotive of many railfans and brings people to its final resting place from all over the globe. Though the running examples of A4s may be more difficult to catch 'on the run', Mallard sits waiting for railfans old and new to visit. A4-Mallard-NRM-Joe-Rogers 60022 / LNER 4468 'Mallard' at the National Rail Museum in York. Photo by Joe Rogers.

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