It was May 1962 – the hundredth anniversary of the first ‘Scotsman’ service from London to Edinburgh – and a Deltic was preparing to leave Kings Cross Station. By pure chance Flying Scotsman in its 60103 guise was also there. A suggestion that the steam locomotive be parked alongside the Deltic was dismissed: British Railways wanted the future to be celebrated, not the past.
On that night Alan Pegler – then on the BR board – felt sorry for the steam locomotive. Rumours were circulating that Scotsman was going to be scrapped, and it was clear British Railways didn’t much care for this old workhorse any longer.
A year later, when a fund to ‘Save our Scotsman’ had not raised the asking price of £3,000, Pegler went ahead and just bought the engine himself. The purchase gave the then Chairman of British Railways Dr Richard Beeching to excuse to sack Pegler from the board.
Pegler’s purchase deal included the use of a shed at Doncaster (where the locomotive was built), access to the network (for a fee) plus work to return the engine to its British Empire Exhibition livery of LNER apple green. The corridor tender also came back and it was renumbered 4472 once again.
In May 1968 Pegler organised a re-creation of the steam-hauled non-stop service that drew large crowds not only to Kings Cross but to large sections of the lineside right up to Edinburgh. A BBC documentary cemented the fame of this steam legend at a time when Britain’s scrap merchants had plenty of work cutting up now-redundant steam locomotives. By September 1968 Flying Scotsman was the only steam locomotive allowed on the network.
However, Pegler had his heart set on on a bigger challenge – he would take the Flying Scotsman to America.