Statue inspires ducking protestors

An actual mallard, after which the famous train was named.
An actual mallard, after which the famous train was named.

According to The Guardian, all is not well in the train aficionado community:

A statue of Sir Nigel Gresley is due to be unveiled in April, marking the 75th anniversary of the death of the designer of the Mallard steam engine. But there is a risk that his achievements will be eclipsed by an arcane dispute that started in the letters pages of local and national newspapers and quickly escalated on social media. At the heart of the row is the decision by the Gresley Society to drop its commitment for the statue’s original design to include a mallard at Sir Nigel’s feet. Campaigners are plotting to make their own avian additions when the 7ft-high bronze of Gresley, commissioned from sculptor Hazel Reeves, is unveiled at London’s King’s Cross station on 5 April.

So basically, the idea was to put a duck at the base of the statue as a reference to the Mallard, the famous steam engine. The Gresley Society dropped this after raising a lot of money on the back of the idea. Now campaigners are threatening to put plastic ducks on the statue at every opportunity.

Sir Nigel Grisley. Not a duck.

Here’s the thing. You’re walking with your kids through King’s Cross Station and there’s the Harry Potter trolley attraction (which now seems to have a permanent queue even late at night) or a statue of a famous, but not that well-known, engineer. Which is likely to fire their imagination more? The statue of the engineer, or the statue of the man with the duck? Which one encourages your kids to learn about the story of the man’s achievements? It’s the duck.

The Mallard. Not a duck.
The Mallard. Not a duck.

This seems to be an example of design (or redesign) by committee. A really good idea gets dismissed because someone thinks it’s silly. But the duck was a masterstroke. What a shame it’s been ditched.

Ducking idiots.

Battle to save historic rail line that heralded the age of science

The opening day in 1830 was portentous. As the inaugural train neared Manchester, the skies turned grey and the crowds hostile. It began to rain. The Duke of Wellington, an opponent of parliamentary reform, was jeered by the city’s politically radicalised workers, who waved tricoleurs and shouted “Remember Peterloo!” Rotten fruit and stones were thrown at the VIP carriages. Wellington decided not to alight and remained in his carriage, with an armed military honour guard close at hand, and waited for the return journey to a more friendly Liverpool. The train arrived back at the port six and a half hours late.

Read the full story here

Metroland, 100 years on: what’s become of England’s original vision of suburbia?

Planners, architects and builders are not the only ones who create cities. The suburban landscape of north-west London owes its existence, largely, to the imagination of the Metropolitan Railway’s marketing department. One hundred years ago, in the summer of 1915, the railway’s publicity people devised the term “Metroland” to describe the catchment area of villages stretching from Neasden into the Chiltern Hills. The railway had bought up huge tracts of farmland along this corridor in the decades before the first world war, and it was ripe for development. All they needed was a sales pitch.

Read the full story here