Independent poll shows overwhelming support for Gresley’s mallard

The Independent ran a story about the statue a couple of months ago, and an online poll. 94% of over 4,000 voters to date want the mallard on the statue.

Here’s a comment from the poll (which is still taking votes):

If they take the duck away, it will just be a statue of some old guy in a suit. There’s hundreds of them just in London, almost nobody will even notice it.

If they keep the duck, people will notice the statue. Then people will read the plaque to learn why there’s a statue of a duck; which means they will learn about Sir Nigel Gresley and his work. Plus, if he didn’t want to be associated with ducks, he shouldn’t have called his super-fast steam train the Mallard!

mallard kings cross

Vanessa Feltz: “100% pro duck”

The great statue debate kicked off in March 2015 with a phone-in on BBC Radio London. The host, Vanessa Feltz, fielded call after call in favour of reinstating the mallard to Sir Nigel’s statue, and, saying she wasn’t supposed to take sides, was clearly baffled by the Gresley Society’s decision to remove the duck:

Which is the statue that you are going to take your grandchildren to see; which is the statue that you will make a pilgrimage to see; which is the statue that you will take a picture of yourself next to: the one with the duck or the one without it?
I’m 100% pro-duck.

Vanessa Feltz, BBC London 31.3.15

vaness feltz


Portillo: mallard on statue entirely appropriate


At a recent An Evening With Michael Portillo, the last question of the night was along the lines of ‘what do you make of all the fuss about the Gresley statue?’ He told the Bury St Edmunds audience:

Gresley was a fan of waterfowl; his most famous locomotive was named after a mallard. I think it’s entirely appropriate to have the mallard on the statue.

Portillo met sculptor Hazel Reeves in the summer, and saw the Sir Nigel Gresley and Mallard maquette.

Hazel and Portillo cropped (1)

Photo: Ed Sepple

McAlpine resolute in his support for the mallard

Steam Railway‘s David Wilcock reports in the October edition that Gresley Society Chairman David McIntosh wrote to Sir William McAlpine (pictured) – who is Patron of the Society – when he found out Sir William had signed the petition to get the mallard reinstated to Gresley statue. McIntosh didn’t write to apologise for saying Sir William (like all the mallard supporters) is an ‘unbalanced duck fanatic‘. He wrote instead to ask Sir William to reconsider his position, a request which was refused:

I 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.

sir william

Gresley not known outside railway world

Commenter Christopher Clark on the importance of the mallard as a draw for people not yet acquainted with Sir Nigel Gresley’s work:

I was surprised to read that the grandsons of Sir Nigel felt that the addition of the Mallard was not in keeping with their grandfather’s image. Outside the railway world I don’t think he has an image and certainly to the vast majority of the many thousands who use King’s Cross every day the name Sir Nigel Gresley will mean nothing at all.

Without the duck the statue will just be another ‘man in a suit’ and of little interest to anyone. With the Mallard the statue will rival the Harry Potter shopping trolley as an attraction for visitors – particularly young children – travelling through the station with their parents. Their parents will have a reason for reading about the duck and the man standing next to it!!

In the 60 or so years since Sir Nigel died the family have had the opportunity to raise the money and negotiate with the authorities to erect a statue to recognise his contribution to railway engineering. For whatever reason they have chosen not to. What they have done, though, is to stop the addition of the one item that will attract peoples’ attention and make them curious to find out more about the great man.london_kings_cross_station_harry_potter_gleis_9_3_4

Gresley’s grandsons have no right to dictate

Another heartfelt comment from the petition today as we approach 1,300 signatures. I thought it best to tone down exactly what the petitioner said about the vice presidents:

The absence of the mallard destroys the link the Society is trying to create. Gresley’s grandsons only have a voice because of people like me who have kept their grandfather’s memory alive – they have no right or status to dictate on this matter and I am very disappointed indeed with the Gresley Society vice-presidents.

gresleyandmallard (Copy)

Meet the maquette! Sir Nigel Gresley and mallard on display

ik1Sculptor Hazel Reeves’ scale model (maquette) of the statue of Sir Nigel Gresley has been on public display this month, at Brighton’s Artists Open Houses Festival, and the Society of Portrait Sculptors FACE2015 exhibition in London (details here).

There’s another chance to see the maquette from June 5th to 13th at Society of Women’s Artists Annual Exhibition at the Mall Galleries, The Mall London SWl.

A comment from a supporter who saw the Brighton show:

I went to see the duck statue and the way it’s all balanced, the duck is essential! Such a shame if it goes ahead without the duck.

These photos were taken at FACE2015 by Ian Kay, who said:

Trip out today to see the maquette, looks best with the duck!


Remarkable Gresley

Another excellent comment, left on the petition yesterday:

This is a statue of a great man in a public place so will be seen by many who will not know (or care) who it commemorates – the mallard will inevitably trigger curiosity, recognition and warmth. What a fine memorial that would be compared to what otherwise will be yet another statue to be passed unnoticed.

People look at Betjeman’s statue at St Pancras because it attracts them, don’t let Gresley be unremarkable, give him the mallard. Shame on the Gresley grandsons and the Gresley Society.

History belongs to everyone

John Scott-Morgan, the British Overseas Railways Historical Trust (BORHT) founder and railway author, has made some powerful comments here and here about the Gresley Society Council‘s (ie the committee) recent behaviour. His points are worth highlighting, as they seem to encapsulate the frustration of many supporters of our campaign to get the mallard reinstated on Sir Nigel Gresley’s statue.

It’s the tweedy coat brigade, the 60s well-healed train enthusiast, who are a pain in the neck and out of touch with the way we preserve our heritage today.

These people don’t want to share our history with anyone and only talk to themselves. 

I have a message for them, history belongs to everyone, not just members of the committee of the Gresley Society and the grandsons.

I find it astonishing that the chairman thinks its none of the public’s business, this statue is in a public place, not a private club room. Sir Nigel Gresley belongs to all of us.

Andrew Dow who campaigned for the statue, was a good friend of mine for thirty years, he wanted the duck there and I agree with him. His loss is a great blow to the railway preservation movement, there are few people of his ability around these days.

When you consider all the work and effort, both Andrew and his committee put in to enable the statue of Sir Nigel Gresley to go ahead, I find it mean spirited and small minded of the Gresley Society to behave in the way they have.

I also feel that the whole tone of the Gresley Society is rude and dismissive, they should realise that history belongs to everyone.

great gathering