Calls to return bronze duck to statue of Doncaster rail pioneer Sir Nigel Gresley

The planned statue of Sir Nigel Gresley with the Mallard.
The planned statue of Sir Nigel Gresley with the Mallard.

It night sound quackers - but a petition to return a bronze duck to a planned statue of Doncaster rail pioneer Sir Nigel Gresley is gathering steam.

Proposals had been unveiled for the tribute at King’s Cross Station as a lasting memorial to the Doncaster-based railway engineer and designer who created the world famous Flying Scotsman and Mallard locomotives in the town.

The original plans for the bronze figure included a model of a mallard at Sir Nigel’s feet - alluding to his legendary steam creation and the fact that he liked to feed ducks during his spare time.

But the duck, which featured in the original plans, has now been removed - with growing calls to reinistate it.

A petition has been launched to bring back the duck, included by award-winning sculptor Hazel Reeves to symbolise the world’s fastest ever steam locomotive Mallard, and as a nod to Sir Nigel’s lifelong interest in wildfowl.

However, the Gresley Society Trust, who commissioned the statue decided to remove the mallard under pressure from Sir Nigel’s elderly grandsons, who were worried it would cause ridicule.

Libby Ranzetta, who started the petition, said: “There has been overwhelming support for keeping the mallard, which draws people to the statue and sparks interest in Sir Nigel and his achievements.

“Without it, most people think the statue is pretty unremarkable and will simply go unnoticed.

“It would be wonderful if Doncaster, birthplace of Mallard, could get behind this campaign to give Sir Nigel Gresley’s statue some of the flair and imagination his designs are famous for.”

She added: “We hope that the petition will enable the Gresley Society to go back to Sir Nigel’s grandsons and convince them the mallard is a brilliant way to sustain the great man’s legacy.”

The The 7 foot 4 inch high bronze sculpture will stand on the Western Concourse at King’s Cross station and is due to be unveiled on April 5, 2016, the 75th anniversary of Sir Nigel’s death.

In early March, with half the funding secured, the Gresley Society announced that it had decided to remove the mallard from the statue because Sir Nigel’s elderly grandsons, Tim and Ben Godfrey feared it would cause ridicule.

Born on June 19, 1876, Herbert Nigel Gresley grew up in Derbyshire and went on to become Chief Mechanical Engineer for the London and North Eastern Railway, whose Gresley-designed Pacifics, including the world famous Flying Scotsman and Mallard were built at Doncaster. More than seventy years after his death, his fame continues, not least in the locomotives he designed which can still be seen today, including Mallard, which still holds the world speed record for steam traction, and the immortal Flying Scotsman. He died in 1941 and is buried in Netherseal.