The Lowdown

  • Wheel Notation: 4-6-2 (Pacific)
  • Length: 70 feet
  • Locomotive Weight: 96.25 tons
  • Top Speed: 100mph
  • Cylinders: 3
  • Tender Capacity: 8 tons of coal, 5000 gallons water (LNER corridor tender)
  • Mileage: approx. 2,500,000 miles

A Proud History

Arguably the most famous locomotive in the world, Flying Scotsman was originally built in Doncaster for the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER), completed on 24 February 1923. The engine was designed by Sir Nigel Gresley to be part of the powerful A1 class and was initially numbered 1472. Flying Scotsman had its first taste of fame when it was chosen to appear at the British Empire Exhibition, London in 1924, where it appeared as 4472 with the name 'Flying Scotsman' after the London to Edinburgh rail service which started daily at 10am.

A few years later in 1928, Flying Scotsman was given a new type of tender which boasted a corridor, thus meaning that crews could swap without stopping the train. This allowed it to haul the first ever non-stop London to Edinburgh service on 1 May, reducing the journey time to eight hours.

Flying Scotsman was back in the spotlight in 1934 when it achieved 100mph, setting an official world record as the first locomotive to have reached that speed. During the Second World War Flying Scotsman had a change of guise from the standard LNER Apple Green to Wartime Black, typical of all railway stock throughout the war years, and is the chosen livery colour of the engine when it appears at our railway. After the war it became green again and was rebuilt as an A3 Pacific. In 1948, rail travel in Britain was nationalised with the formation of British Railways, and Flying Scotsman, which was now numbered 60103, was painted blue for a time, then Brunswick Green where it remained in this colour until 1963.

Over the years Flying Scotsman has changed hands on a number of occasions. The engine was bought by railway preservationist Alan Pegler who restored her to 1930s condition and famously took it on a tour of the United States. Due to financial worries, Pegler sold the locomotive to British businessman William McAlpine who brought Flying Scotsman home to repair and in 1988-9 it set out on another tour, this time around Australia, where at one point it recorded the longest ever non-stop run by a steam locomotive, travelling 422 miles. By 1995, it was part-owned by record producer Pete Waterman, and was once more being overhauled. It was sold again to businessman Tony Marchington in 1996. Tony continued to run it on mainline railtours but due to high maintenance costs, it was back on sale a few years later. 

Flying Scotsman was returned to public ownership in 2004. The successful bid included £415,000 raised by the public and £365,000 donated by Sir Richard Branson, plus a £1.8m grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund. Since that time Flying Scotsman has been undergoing an extensive restoration in the workshop of Riley & Son (E) Ltd. The intensive £4.2m project to bring the legend back to life has now been completed and Flying Scotsman now portrays the glamour of the golden age of steam in its BR Brunswick Green livery, entertaining the public for generations to come.

For more information on the history and restoration of Flying Scotsman, please visit the National Railway’s Museum dedicated Flying Scotsman website.

BR 4-6-2 locomotive No.60103 with the downTees-Thames Express atPeterborough in 1960.jpg