1935 LNER ‘A3’ 4-6-2 No. 2750 Papyrus
The high-speed testing on the LNER did not end with the November 30 1934 run with No. 4472. On March 5 1935, a further test run was made which preceded the introduction of the ‘Silver Jubilee’ express. As in the previous November, it was an LNER ‘Pacific’ that was to head the six-coach train; but a more powerful engine than ‘A1’ No. 4472, in the guise of an ‘A3’. The route was King’s Cross to Newcastle and return, and the driver was, again, William Sparshatt. For the first time in my search for the first validated 100mph steam locomotive, the facts are clear, straightforward and undisputable!
On March 5 1935 the ‘A3’, with a train weighing 217 tons gross, covered 500 miles in 423 minutes and 23 seconds; an average speed of 72.7mph. That included all normal speed restrictions, plus ten and a half minutes of out-of-course checks. 300 miles of the day’s running was completed at an average of 80mph. On the return descent of Stoke Bank, Papyrus passed Little Bytham at 106mph, reached a maximum of 108mph soon afterwards and was still travelling at 102mph through Essendine. The times taken by C.J. Allen give an average of 100.6mph, over the fastest stretch, for 12.25 miles. Between Little Bytham and Essendine, the 3.6 miles were covered in 2 minutes and 3 seconds: an average speed of 105.3mph. So for the first time anywhere in the world, full documentation was taken - and preserved - of sufficient timing details to demonstrate that, without a shadow of doubt, a steam locomotive had reached 100mph. In a twist of irony, and due to all the confusion and irregularities over the previous claims for UK steam locomotives to have reached this benchmark speed (i.e. City of Truro and Flying Scotsman) No. 2750 (BR No. 60096) was scrapped after being withdrawn from service in 1963 as the end of steam in the UK approached.
DID IT REACH 100MPH?
Yes! Without any doubt.
“IN A TWIST OF IRONY, NO. 2750 WAS SCRAPPED AFTER BEING WITHDRAWN FROM SERVICE IN 1963”
‘A3’ No. 2750 Papyrus is posed on the date of its certified 100mph run on March 5 1935, with the now‑preserved dynamometer car No. 902502 sandwiched between the locomotive and five Gresley coaches.