Bronze statue of Sir Nigel Gresley commissioned for King’s Cross Station
Sir Nigel Gresley, the eminent railway engineer (1876-1941), designed the record-breaking steam locomotives, Flying Scotsman and Mallard. The 7ft 4in bronze was unveiled on the new Western Concourse, adjacent to his former offices, at 11am on the 5 April 2016. This marked the 75th anniversary of Gresley’s death. Sir Peter Hendy, Chairman of Network Rail, removed the veil in front of a large enthusiastic crowd.
Amongst the many special guests at the unveiling were the grandsons and great grand-daughter of Sir Nigel, Sir William McAlpine and Lady Judith McAlpine, Janie Harris, HRH Princess Michael of Kent’s Lady-in-Waiting, and Sue Jelley, President of the Society of Women Artists. The Greley-designed N2 steam engine also made a welcome appearance on Platform 8.
In the sculpting of the statue I have followed traditional techniques to ensure the highest artistic quality: building a strong armature to size and hand-building the clay sculpture. In line with Rodin’s methods, I sculpted the unclothed figure first, using a model. The Gresley statue was commissioned by the Gresley Society Trust and was cast by Bronze Age Sculpture Casting Foundry in London.
In 2014, in way of preparation, I was commissioned to sculpt a maquette (scale-model) of Sir Nigel Gresley with a mallard duck. However, The Gresley Society Trust commissioned me to sculpt the full-size figure without the mallard at his side.
Why a statue of Sir Nigel Gresley?
In The Times, Michael Binyon praised the plan, affirming that:
“[Gresley] was acclaimed in the heyday of British steam as the man who brought style, speed and glamour to the London-Edinburgh run, he designed the streamlined locomotives that set a number of world records” (23rd August 2014)
In fact the former late Vice Chair of the Gresley Society Trust, Andrew Dow, also answered this question most eloquently in 2014:
“There can be no question that, among the nation’s engineers, he fully deserves it, and indeed in a country not well known for revering its engineers, it is long overdue”
For the inspiration behind the original and final pose see the section on the Gresley maquette.