The Gresley Society has admitted it broke the law in defending its controversial decision to alter the statue.
As gresleyduck.org readers know, the 7’4 bronze statue, due to be unveiled at King’s Cross station in April, was to feature a mallard duck at Sir Nigel’s feet, symbolising his world speed record breaking locomotive Mallard, and as a nod to his love of waterfowl. But the trustees of the Gresley Society, who commissioned the work, gave in to the demands of two of Gresley’s grandsons, who said the duck was demeaning and must be omitted.
The decision to axe the mallard caused an outcry and led to resignations from the Society, a 3,000-strong online petition and objections from leading figures in the heritage railway world, including the Gresley Society’s own patron Sir William McAlpine.
It was anticipated that differences would be resolved at the Society’s recent AGM, but trustees failed to comply with legal requirements on proxy voting, effectively denying most members a say. Vice Chairman Philip Benham, in an interview with Steam Railway magazine, admitted the trustees had broken the law, saying the matter “will be remedied in future”.
Ron Vale, a Gresley Society member for over 30 years, said:
“I had been authorised by 26 fellow members to vote on their behalf at the meeting, but was told on the day that the votes wouldn’t count.
This is not the way a respectable organisation should behave. I am appalled and embarrassed at the way the Gresley Society has handled this whole affair.”