Flying Scotsman

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In June 1862 the three companies that operated on the East Coast route (the Great Northern Railway, the North Eastern and the North British) shared the cost of new coaches for the route from London to Edinburgh. The result was that from June 1862 a new service began using these coaches. It departed from London Kings Cross going north and from Edinburgh going south, simultaneously at 10am, passing each other roughly half-way. The train service was referred to as the 'Special Scotch Express' by Bradshaw's guide but up and down the line railwaymen, rail users and railway enthusiasts began to refer to it as the 'Scotch Express', the 'Scotchman' or, the 'Flying Scotchman'. Read more about the route and the 'Race to the North'.


The locomotive named 'Flying Scotsman' is built at Doncaster in 1922-3. It was the first locomotive of the new London & North Eastern Railway (LNER), designed by Sir Nigel Gresley and built as Class A1 (A denoting a 4-6-2 wheel arrangement or 'Pacific'). It was named after the route that was now already being hauled between London King's Cross and Edinburgh Waverley as the LNER planned to mainly use it on that route. A star of the Wembley Empire Exhibitions held in 1924 (seen by over twenty million people including the youthful Alan Pegler) and again in 1925 when paired with smaller six-wheeled tender. Locomotive facts Flying Scotsman was given number 1472 and then 4472 and displayed at Wembley with LNER crest cabside and brass trim on splashers.


Hauls the first non-stop Flying Scotsman service from London to Edinburgh – at that time the longest non-stop service in the world. Also paired with one of the first batch corridor tenders to enable crew changes on non-stop runs. Locomotive facts Cab, chimney and dome are cut down in size to allow full route access on East Coast Mainline, and the cbside crests are removed.


Star of the first British talkie movie 'The Flying Scotsman' also starring Ray Milland, Moore Marriot and Pauline Johnson. The locomotive and the Flying Scotsman train are the real stars in the movie. Locomotive facts The loco also starts becoming a star of displays and charity events.


First steam locomotive to achieve an authenticated 100mph run so, for a while making it the World Steam speed record holder – this was achieved in a blaze of publicity (BBC and national press coverage). The 100mph run helps Nigel Gresley in the development of the A4 class. Locomotive Facts Flying Scotsman loses the corridor tender in 1936 as it no longer hauls the non-stop runs.


LNER sponsors two Spitfires which are named 'Flying Scotsman' – another example of the use of the name for positive publicity. Flying Scotsman becomes a wartime workhorse, carrying heavier loads and being worked harder with less maintenance. Locomotive facts Painted in wartime black (1943). Number changes to 502 and then 103 (both in 1946).


Fitted with a larger boiler and converted into an A3 class locomotive, after a short spell reclassified as an A10. A new banjo-shaped dome replaces the conventional circular dome (this also sits further back). Possibly following a hard time during the war, Flying Scotsman suffers from a poor service record when based at Leicester. Locomotive facts In 1948, rail travel in Britain was nationalised with the formation of British Railways. Flying Scotsman appears as number 103 in LNER Apple Green, then re-numbered BR 601013 in 1948 and painted in Express Blue.


In this period Flying Scotsman undergoes a number of significant changes to its physical appearance, including being converted to left-hand drive. Double chimney (1959) and German-style smoke deflectors (1961) follow these changes. Locomotive facts Scotsman is renumbered as British Rail no 60103 and painted in BR Green (sometimes called 'Brunswick Green').


'The Flying Scotsman' train re-launches as a symbol of modern Britain hauled by the fastest and most powerful of the new diesels, the Deltic. Just before the service is launched at King's Cross, Flying Scotsman is banished to a tunnel as British Rail feels it gives the wrong message. Alan Pegler witnessed the loco's banishment – "I felt very sorry for 60103" he wrote at the time.


Rescued for preservation by Alan Pegler after two million miles in BR ownership - huge crowds see its last run for BR on 15 January 1963. Returns to single chimney, corridor tender, apple green and LNER number 4472 but still as an A3 – so in a form not seen in LNER days - huge media publicity and vast crowds follow the loco. Locomotive facts Era of the nickname 'The most famous locomotive in the world' – possibly started by John Noakes on Blue Peter as he reported the story.


On the 40th anniversary of the first London-Edinburgh non-stop run Flying Scotsman repeats the feat – covered extensively by the BBC. This was a major achievement as the infrastructure for operating steam had largely gone with BR's move to diesel traction. The locomotive appears as character in Rev W Awdry's 'Enterprising Engines'. Locomotive facts Scotsman is fitted with a second tender (1966) formerly on A4 Union of South Africa. This was to carry the extra water needed.


After August 1968 Flying Scotsman becomes the only steam engine allowed on the British Rail network. In 1969 Alan Pegler begins the first high-profile US tour – supported by UK Government. Read more about Flying Scotsman's trip overseas and view exclusive pictures in the gallery. The second tour proves less successful, and after running out of money the locomotive becomes stranded in the United States (1971). Locomotive facts Flying Scotsman is fitted with bell, cowcatcher and 'hooter' in true US style.


A rescue package to return Flying Scotsman to the UK was organised by Bill McAlpine - the now new owner of the engine after Pegler was forced to file for bankruptcy. An estimated 100,000 people watched Flying Scotsman in steam from Liverpool to Derby for overhaul. In 1978 Flying Scotsman is back on the big screen again, appearing in film Agatha (1978) alongside Vanessa Redgrave and Dustin Hoffman.


Bill McAlpine organises for Flying Scotsman to take a tour round Australia. Here Scotsman breaks the world non-stop steam record of 442 miles, a journey that included the 297 miles of straight track (the world's longest 'straight'). After 28,000 miles and 15 months overseas, Flying Scotsman returns to Britain via Cape Horn, meaning that including the USA trip, the locomotive was the first to essentially sail round the world!


Flying Scotsman returns to the tracks, travelling between London King's Cross and York, watched by large crowds. The previous years had been tough and had seen the loco gradually deteriorate having been part of an unsuccessful commercial venture between McAlpine and pop impresario Pete Waterman. The return of the Flying Scotsman was brought about by another new wealthy business owner - Tony Marchington - at a cost of £1.45 million. The overhaul to enable the running took four years and cost far more than expected.


Marchington puts Scotsman up for sale - overall the operation just wasn't covering its costs. This time the National Railway Museum steps in to buy Flying Scotsman, which many of its visitors had for years assumed it already owned. A 'Save Our Scotsman' campaign helped raise the £2.2 million purchase price, with the public's contribution matched by Sir Richard Branson, and further backing by the National Lottery and Heritage Memorial Fund.


With its restoration completed, Flying Scotsman hits the rails for its inaugural run, touring the UK as a working museum exhibit, demonstrating the engineering science behind steam traction to new generations of Scotsman fans.