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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 2, Issue 6 (October 1, 1927)

Romance of the Iron Road. — Record Non-Stop Run

page 33

Romance of the Iron Road.
Record Non-Stop Run.

To the London and North Eastern Railway now belongs the credit of establishing the longest non-stop run for any passenger train in the world.

This is made by a train timed to leave King's Cross, London, at 9.50 a. m. and arrive in New-castle (268 miles distant) 5½ hours later.

Describing the first run of this non-stop express the London “Daily Express” of 12th July throws an aura of romance around the performance. Read their Special Correspondent's account:—

Driver Pibworth took the “Flying Fox” locomotive out of King's Cross this morning at 9.50, and pulled her up for her first stop at New-castle at 3.20, thus creating a world's record for the longest non-stop railway journey of 268 miles.

Thousands of men from stations and workshops along the journey cheered “Old Pib” as they call him, and waved their greasy caps as the “Flying Fox” slipped proudly on her way.

Pibworth was overcome with emotion when he was congratulated at Newcastle. “Aye, she's done it,” was all he could reply to the Lord Mayor's speech, “I better send a telegram to my wife. Can I do it?”

The scenes here ended a journey more exciting than any I have ever made by air, land or sea. As the giant locomotive slipped noiselessly into Newcastle a wild cheer broke from the crowds.

Pibworth look scared as he saw the Lord Mayor and officials, and then stepped down to the platform wiping his face and hands on a piece of waste. He was trembling with pleasure.


“Flying Fox” left King's Cross straining to eat up the miles. The steady throw of the piston-rod and the song of the wheels rolling rhythmically over the gleaming metals ticked off the miles. Green fields slipped by in a whirl. Peterborough was passed; Grantham came and disappeared. We were at Doncaster. The whistle shrieked our approach. Blue-overalled drivers and firemen could be seen, but not heard, cheering “Old Pib.”

All the time we thrilled to the knowledge that we were in a train making world history. York showed a madly waving crowd. The last stage of the journey with the record near at hand was thrilling enough to be nerve-racking.

The passengers crowded to the windows. Our speed never slackened. The couplings between the carriages seemed to groan a protest. The thump of the wheels over the metals seemed to say “Never, never, never, never.”

Then as the tension became almost unbearable, Newcastle came in sight and we cheered like schoolboys. The long platform came near and we slowed down, the wheels changing their rhythm to a more optimistic song. We stopped with easy grace.

There was a shout. The record run was finished.

“I never touched top speed,” Pibworth said to me, “but she is full of power and magnificent to handle. I never once doubted she could do the run. Mutton, my fireman, had a good job-sooner him than me, though he had weeks of training, you know, before we tackled it. But there, we know the long-distance run can be done safely now.”

Taken on the Run. Through The Carriage Window, Manawatu Line.

Taken on the Run.
Through The Carriage Window, Manawatu Line.