Gresley Society Chairman slams public interest in statue

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In a letter published in July’s Heritage Railway, Gresley Society Chairman David McIntosh speaks out against statue campaigners and a contributor to the Society’s fund-raising appeal who expressed his disagreement with the decision to remove the mallard from the statue.

McIntosh is already on the record¹ as saying children are not a target audience for the Gresley Society’s efforts.

It seems from the letter that the Society is in fact solely concerned with ‘long-term supporters’ (whatever that means), and ‘the family’ (aka Gresley’s grandsons).


hr july letter from mcintosh



1. The Gresley Society’s statement on the statue row includes the following:

“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.

We are also aware that artistic opinion is by no means unanimous that a modern statue needs something ‘extra’ in order to attract attention.

Equally we have never regarded small children as a target market for our work.”

11 thoughts on “Gresley Society Chairman slams public interest in statue

  1. A comment regarding £25 ‘duck’.

    Fifty years plus ago I lived in London enjoyed visits to Kings Cross Station where, on occasions, I saw Mallard. I picked up the ‘duck’ thread a few weeks ago and posted my support. This was in response to a request for support.

    At that time did I not notice reference to a request for contribution to the fund to make the statue, ie relating to the subsequent comment that the supporters of the ‘duck’ have not dipped into their pocket!

    “The Society’s Chairman, David McIntosh, has broken a lengthy silence on the matter with a rather contemptuous attack on statue campaigners … ”

    I have to ask why the Society’s Chairman has ‘been silent on the matter’ and, if the ‘duck’ was not required, why was it produced! Surely the Chairman of the Society should have been in control of the project.

    Perhaps the Chairman should also be removed and sent to ‘wherever’ with the duck?!?!?!?!?!


    • Thanks for your comment Peter. The statue is essentially crowd-funded, or at least that was the original plan (in fact, the Society could easily afford to pay for it). The Gresley Society launched a fund-raising appeal in November 2014, featuring the Sir Nigel Gresley and Mallard maquette (scale model). A lot of people donated to the project before the decision was taken to remove the mallard (those people were not consulted). The Gresley Society are still collecting contributions (see )

      I think the Chairman hoped nobody would notice the duck had gone, and has subsequently hoped people would just forget about it if he kept quiet. Wrong on both counts.

      • Probably a daft suggestion, but could the duck be cast as a seperate item that could be added to the statue.

        Then have two 6 month periods one with and one without the duck and see which the viewing public prefer.

        • It’s a very sensible idea, but the problem is that the preferences of the viewing public are of no interest to the Gresley Society!

  2. Libby,
    I had a very interesting chat today, something that Mr Mcintosh might heed, but wont
    I had been on the phone waiting for a fare when she passed a comment that i had been a very long time. I had a copy of the Spring GO and saying nothing,showed her the picture of the complete statue. Her first Comment

    ‘Oh i like the duck, whats is for?

    I then explained to her why it has been decided to remove it.

    Her comment

    ‘Thats stupid kids will love it and get to know about the man, otherwise it is just another statue and pass it by’

    Wise words Valeri Rosi of Wokingham

    • Thanks Ron, that says it all. Everyone seems to understand the importance of the mallard except the people commissioning it!

  3. Does anyone one know if a planning application has been made for the statue as yet. If one has been made and not yet determined is the consultation period still open. If so 1600 letters of objections are difficult to ignore

    • Yes it was approved some time ago (Sir Nigel with the mallard) and Camden Council say the removal of the mallard is not a planning issue.

      • Thank you for that information. I answered my own question by finding the application on Camdens website..

        Whilst I would normally agree that the question of whether the design should or shouldnt include a duckisnt really a materal planning consideration, I dont agree with Camdens stance in this case.

        The duck was shown on all of the drawings submitted as part of the application and condition no 3 of the approval states that the development is to be undertaken in accordance with the approved drawings. Therefore if they Duck is omitted without the approval of a revsed application, then Camden has a statutory duty to enforce the condition on the approved application and failure to do so would leave them open to Judicial review.

        The more people who write to the council asking them to enforce the condition then the harder it becomes to ignore it.

        I attach the text of a letter which I have tonight sent to Camden by email to planning Please feel free to use the text as a basis for your own letter. Dont just copy and paste it as individual letters count for more than round robin letters in these situations.


        Regeneration & Planning Development Management
        London Borough of Camden
        Town Hall
        Judd Street
        WC1H 8ND

        FAO Mrs Antonia Powell

        11th July 2015

        Dear Mrs Powell

        Application Number 2014/4569/L
        Erection of bronze statue of Sir Nigel Gresley and installation of wall plaque on western concourse Kings Cross Station.

        I refer to your council’s decision notice dated the 3rd September 2015 in respect of the above application.
        The decision notice lists the documents considered as part of the application to be:-
        Drawing Nos: Design and Access Statement dated 09/07/2014; Photo sheets x 4 of proposed statue in position; Drwg Nos. GST1 issue 1; GST2 issue 1, plan showing proposed site location of statue; Location plan – CAP-0133 rev 05.
        These drawings clearly show that a significant part of this statue was to be the inclusion of a Mallard duck at Sir Nigel’s feet, signifying the link to his most famous locomotive The Mallard which broke the world speed record for a stream train.
        The Applicant has unilaterally decided without proper public consultation to remove the duck from the statue. There is significant public concern at this move by the society and I would draw your attention to a campaign to have the duck reinstated.
        The purpose of including the duck was to draw public attention to what would otherwise be yet another boring statue of an old man, and as such, together with the accompanying plaque, help educate the public to the major contribution that Sir Nigel Gresley made to railway engineering in this country. In particular it was aimed at getting children’s interest in the statue, leading to the question “why is there a duck at that man’s feet” thus allowing an explanation of what the Mallard locomotive was and who was Sir Nigel Gresley.
        This is not my view of the significance of the duck, but it was clearly stated in the Design & Access Statement accompanying the application which said:-
        “Accompanying the statue, and standing close to it, will be the likeness of a mallard duck. This also will be in bronze, standing on the floor. This duck is no mere whimsy: it is an allusion to Sir Nigel’s most famous locomotive, Mallard, which holds the world speed record for steam locomotives. It is also an allusion to Sir Nigel’s habit of feeding mallards at his pre-war home in Salisbury Hall. It is probable that the unexpected presence of the duck will attract public attention, and so its fastening to the floor will be on particularly strong internal steel legs, in case children decide to sit on it. Please see Photos 2-4. These are montages of the bronze maquette made by the sculptor, superimposed on photographs of the wall at the proposed site”
        I would surmise that this statement and the educational value of the statue of the statue formed a material consideration in the Local Planning Authorities decision to grant Listed Building Consent to the proposal.
        The Gresley Society Chairman David McIntosh has made the following comments on this matter:-
        “The Council of The Gresley Society Trust, with the benefit of hindsight, accept that they were remiss in not insisting that their Sculpture sub-Group consulted with The Gresley family before going public on the more controversial details of the project.
        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.
        We are also aware that artistic opinion is by no means unanimous that a modern statue needs something ‘extra’ in order to attract attention.
        Equally we have never regarded small children as a target market for our work.
        It is somewhat surprising that a society that is registered with the Charity Commissioners as an Educational Trust doesn’t believe educating children is part of its remit, and I find the statement also insulting to the children of Camden and the travelling public in general.
        I note that condition 3 of the approval letter states that:-
        The works hereby approved are only those specifically indicated on the drawing(s) referred to above.

        Reason: In order to safeguard the special architectural and historic interest of the building in accordance with the requirements of policy CS14 of the London Borough of Camden Local Development Framework Core Strategy and policy DP25 of the London Borough of Camden Local Development Framework Development Policies.

        Given that the drawings and accompanying statements all indicate that the duck is an integral part of the design of the statue, I would be grateful for your confirmation that should the Gresley Society erect this statue without the duck the Local Planning Authority will undertake its statutory duty and take enforcement action to ensure that the works are completed in their entirety and in accordance with the approved drawings.
        Should The Gresley Society choose to submit an amendment to this application or to submit and new application for a statue without the duck them I would wish to be consulted on any such application.
        I look forward to hearing from in response to the questions raised above.

        Yours sincerely

        Stephen J W Jackson Dip TP MRTPI

        I attach below the text

  4. Hi all,
    I would urge all members of the Gresley Society, who are supporting the save the Mallard to let me know! I’m a member who actually spoke at the recent meeting in York, and would like to know the support within the ranks of members. By the way there were only 30 or so members attending the last meeting at York. Name and membership no is enough for me, and if you have given up membership or resigned over this issue, please let me know….
    If I can prove that this issue has been in the eyes of the members badly, then the council need to listen, and listen well, before the society loses not only a Mallard on a statue but society membership as well

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