Chief General Manager Wedgwood and Chief Mechanical Engineer Gresley knew what the travelling public wanted. Speed, comfort and reliability. When the need for a service allowing North East businessmen to make a round trip in a day to London, the first thought was a lightweight streamlined diesel train, like the German ”Flying Hamburger”, but this had very restricted catering facilities and in Wedgwood’s view, too small a passenger capacity to be viable. The forthcoming Silver Jubilee of King George V offered the opportunity to introduce something spectacular and memorable.
Wedgwood specified a train of uniform appearance built to the highest modern standards, steam hauled with full catering on board for luncheons and dinners, allowing about three hours in London for business meetings. The LNER was the most impoverished of the “Big Four”, having been saddled with the debt ridden Great Central on the grounds that these losses would be more than offset by the massive freight revenues generated by the coal, steel, iron ore and heavy engineering traffic revenues earned by the North Eastern. Alas! The post WWI slump in the 1920s, followed by the depression of the 1930s killed that hope off. The LNER could never afford to do much, but what it did do, was accomplished with style and efficiency.
Taking Gresley’s A3 Pacific and articulated coaches as a starting point, a new class of locomotive (A4) and revolutionary new train, were designed, built and tested in a matter of months. Streamlined and finished in silver grey, nothing quite like it had been seen in Britain before.
Nearly 80 years on, the silver ink on this booklet is a little dull now, but it still exudes “quality” and still conveys something of “the shock of the new” which contemporary passengers would have experienced in handling it. When the service started, there was only one streamlined silver grey locomotive to work it -“Silver Link”. The booklet reveals the source of the name – a few lines from “The Lay of the Last Minstrel” by Sir Walter Scott.
It is the secret sympathy,
The silver link, the silken tie,
Which heart to heart, and mind to mind,
In body and in soul can bind.
A stylish souvenir of a great enterprise.