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), emerging from the works on 24 February 1923 and initially numbered 1472. It was designed by Sir Nigel Gresley as part of the A1 class – the most powerful locomotives used by the railway. By 1924, when it was selected to appear at the British Empire Exhibition in London, the loco had been renumbered 4472 – and been given the name 'Flying Scotsman' after the London to Edinburgh rail service which started daily at 10am.

The British Empire Exhibition made Flying Scotsman famous, and it went on to feature in many more publicity events for the LNER. In 1928, it was given a new type of tender with a corridor, which meant that a new crew could take over 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.

 

 

A few years later, in 1934, Scotsman was clocked at 100mph – officially the first locomotive to have reached that speed. LNER passenger locomotives had always been painted Apple Green. But during the Second World War, Flying Scotsman was repainted in wartime black, in common with all railway stock, and will be appearing at the East Lancashire Railway in this livery. 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. Scotsman, now numbered 60103, was painted blue for a time, then Brunswick Green.

It remained in this colour until 1963, when it was retired by British Rail. By this time, it had undergone several alterations to improve its performance – but it had been pulling trains for 40 years, and steam engines were becoming old-fashioned. Flying Scotsman was still famous, and was bought by railway preservationist Alan Pegler. He restored her to 1930s condition, and famously took it on a tour of the United States, for which it was fitted with a bell, headlamp and cowcatcher. Financial issues meant that Pegler had to sell the engine to British businessman William McAlpine. Flying Scotsman came home and was repaired, and in 1988-9 it toured 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 the high cost, it was back on sale a few years later. After a successful campaign, Flying Scotsman was returned once more 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, it has been going through a thorough restoration. Once Flying Scotsman’s restoration is complete, it will be back hauling mainline railtours, steaming proudly into the 21st century.

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