HE was one of engineering’s true greats and a pioneer of the era of steam.
And now commuters using the trains he paved the way for will see his towering figure at one of the country’s busiest terminals.
Three-quarters of a century to the day from his death, a statue honouring the life and works of Sir Nigel Gresley was unveiled at London’s King’s Cross Station yesterday,.
Eighteen months in the planning, and not without controversy, the bronze sculpture by Hazel Reeves has been hailed for catching “the essence” of the great locomotive designer, famed for both Flying Scotsman and the Mallard.
It was the latter locomotive, which on July 3, 1938, raced down Stoke Bank at 126mph to set a new steam locomotive world speed record that still today, that was the source of the controversy.
Original designs for the sculpture showed a duck sitting at the foot of the engineer - but it was noticeably absent yesterday.
Sir Nigel’s family, and others, were not keen on its inclusion.
Despite a 3,200-strong petition calling for the duck to be reinstated, claiming it would spark interest in the engineer’s achievements, the Gresley Society Trust, which commissioned the statue, confirmed in April last year that it will not be included.
Members of Sir Nigel’s family were at King’s Cross to see the final statue unveiled by Network Rail chairman Sir Peter Hendy yesterday. He said it commemorates “a man who looked relentlessly forward in his day to more powerful locomotives”.