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Big Big Train highlight appeal for train driver immortalised in song

Big Big Train
(Image credit: Big Big Train)

Big Big Train have highlighted an ongoing campaign to raise money for a headstone for Joe Duddington, the train driver immortalised in the band's song East Coast Racer (from 2013's English Electric Part Two).

"Two of the real-life characters that appear in our song East Coast Racer are engine driver Joe Duddington and fireman Tommy Bray," explains Big Big Train's Greg Spawton. "A charity appeal has been set up to ensure Joe (who was buried in an unmarked grave) has an appropriate headstone. The target is £2,000. Big Big Train has donated £100 and we would greatly appreciate donations from any BBT Passengers who have any money to spare in these difficult times."

Joseph “Joe” Duddington was the driver of the A4 Pacific Class Steam Locomotive, ‘Mallard’, when it broke the world speed record for steam locomotives on the 3rd of July 1938, reaching a speed of 126.4mph, a record that stands today. He was personally selected by Sir Nigel Gresley, the designer of the ‘Mallard’, for this important role.

Joe lived with his family in the Hyde Park area of Doncaster, and worked for the LNER until his retirement in 1944. Despite playing a pivotal role in this still unbroken world record, when Joe died in 1953, he was buried in an unmarked grave in Hyde Park Cemetery, Doncaster.

The Jospeh Duddington Appeal is aiming to raise over £2000 to mark his grave and give him the headstone he deserves. The headstone will not only remember Joe and his wife Mary Alice, but also mark his huge achievement and his importance in the railway history of Doncaster. 

Covid-19 has put paid to the guided walks and talks The Friends Of Hyde Park cemetery usually use for grave projects. You can donate at the link below.

Donate to the Friends of Hyde Park Cemetery Joseph Duddington appeal (opens in new tab).

Writer and broadcaster Jerry Ewing is the Editor of Prog Magazine which he founded for Future Publishing in 2009. He grew up in Sydney and began his writing career in London for Metal Forces magazine in 1989. He has since written for Metal Hammer, Maxim, Vox, Stuff and Bizarre magazines, among others. He created and edited Classic Rock Magazine for Dennis Publishing in 1998 and is the author of a variety of books on both music and sport, including Wonderous Stories; A Journey Through The Landscape Of Progressive Rock, as well as sleevenotes for many major record labels. He lives in North London and happily indulges a passion for AC/DC, Chelsea Football Club and Sydney Roosters.