Another Gresley Society grandee speaks out for the mallard

A year or so ago, when the Gresley Society trustees were trying to justify their decision to remove the mallard from Sir Nigel’s statue at the request of Gresley’s grandsons (Tim and Ben Godfrey), they claimed that all the Society’s Vice Presidents had made ‘adverse comments’ about the duck. The statement the trustees sent to the press and other enquirers at time said:

When we began to receive significant adverse comments on the presence of a duck at the feet of Sir Nigel from our President, all ten Vice-Presidents and senior officers at other related organisations, we quickly realised that we could not proceed without a careful re-appraisal of the project.

It was a surprise, therefore, when one of those Vice Presidents signed the petition to reinstate the mallard last summer. Sir William McAlpine, who is also Patron of the Gresley Society, had not made ‘adverse comments’ to the trustees at all; he thought the mallard was a good idea from the outset – a view he stuck to when Gresley Society Chairman David McIntosh asked him to reconsider. Sir William told McIntosh:

Sir_William_McAlpineI was attracted by the statue with the duck, when it was first shown in the press. I thought it was interesting and appropriate as did many, who saw it. The duck would attract attention to the statue, which presumably was what it was intended to do. I still think so. The Godfrey brothers ….no doubt wish to show respect for the Great Man, but I think they have missed the point. The duck shows him as human and with interests other than railways.

Future generations will not know who Sir Nigel Gresley was, but would ask about the duck and would discover what he achieved.

That was last summer. Fast forward to now, and it transpires there is another pro-mallard Vice President pro-mallard: Conservative peer the Earl of Lindsay. The Earl of Lindsay’s father, Viscount Garnock owned a Gresley locomotive 61994, which was purchased direct from British Railways in December 1961. 61994 was a Gresley designed class K4 named the ‘Great Marquess’ (pictured, by Stan Laundon) introduced in 1937 for work on the West Highland Line. On the death of Viscount Garnock in 1989, Great Marquess was passed on to his son, the 16th Earl of Lindsay.


Great Marquess was subsequently sold to the Fife sheep farmer, and President of the Gresley Society, John Cameron, in 2003.  When we asked the Earl of Lindsay about the statue of Sir Nigel, he said:

earl of lindsayI strongly support the presence of a mallard. I am happy for you to share this information with others if that would be helpful. FYI, prior to your e-mail I had not been approached for my views, either by the Gresley Society Council or by anyone else. It is therefore not accurate for it to be suggested that all Vice Presidents disapproved of the mallard.

The Gresley Society trustees’ false claim about the Vice Presidents forms part of a complaint that is currently being considered by the Charity Commission.

First rule of the Gresley Society: don’t talk about the statue

Some Gresley Society members have been trying for a while to get a copy of the membership list, which according to the GS website is published periodically.
The requests for the list were refused for various reasons, Initially we were told the list was not in a “suitable format which can be circulated”. (The Membership Secretary said “the last such booklet was distributed to members in June 2008 and I regret I have not got round to replacing this with up to date information.”)

Then the problem was data protection, with the Chairman saying:“Your demand for [a] membership [list] is asking us to act illegally, we cannot supply this information without the prior permission of members.”

More recently, the excuse from the Chairman was: “To have a membership list you have to meet several legal requirements and one will be supplied when you comply with them, and not before.” When we asked him at the AGM what the legal requirements were. He replied: “It’s not for us to tell you; you can find out for yourselves.”

So a member made a formal request under section 116 of the Companies Act 2006, saying the list would be used to contact others to further his knowledge of Gresley. And got an extraordinary reply from the Gresley Society Secretary, including this extract:

“if we believe the information is requested for an improper purpose we could apply to court to direct that we do not comply with your request. However, on the basis that you have only requested the information to converse with like minded members to further your knowledge of Sir Nigel Gresley, and that this is the only reason for which the information will be used, we are of the view that this is a proper purpose to disclose the information to you.


We would note, however, in making this decision that we have considered the risk of you using the information for other purposes, especially given concerns raised by members in the past of unsolicited correspondence regarding other matters. In particular we assume (on the basis that you do not mention this) that you do not intend to contact members on an unsolicited basis in respect of the current disputes surrounding the status of the statue proposed of Sir Nigel.

first rule of the gresley society
As it is an offence to knowingly or recklessly make in a request such as yours a statement that is misleading, false or deceptive in a material particular (pursuant to section 119(1) Companies Act 2006) or to disclose information to someone who could use the information other than for a proper purpose, in each case with liability for such an offence being a maximum of two years imprisonment and/or a fine on indictment, we have taken the view that the sole purpose for your request is to converse with members who have a similar mindset to you, in respect of Sir Nigel Gresley himself, and trust you will limit your use of the information to this, and not disclose the members list to others.”


The member replied on 16th Feb:

“Now, on reflection and your wish to pursue me through the court should I divulge the contents of the list, or use it for a purpose you see unfit […] I have changed my mind on why I wish to use it.  [..] So my reason for the request is now “in order to canvas members’ opinions about the mallard prior to requesting a poll”

I wish to do this because, despite spending £95,000 of the members money on the statue GST have consistently refused a members’ decision.”

He has yet to receive a reply.