A steamy day with a Flying Scotsman

Posted by The Skibbereen Eagle | February 26, 2016 0


Flying Scotsman was Britain’s most famous locomotive in the country which gave the world railways. This iconic piece of industrial history was nearly lost to the country ending up in America and Australia at one stage. But the future of this wonderful symbol of the steam age is now secure. The engine was bought for the nation in 2004 by the National Railway Museum (NRM) in York using £415,000 in public donations, a £365,000 gift from Sir Richard Branson and a £1.8m grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund.


Train enthusiasts watched in awe as the world’s most famous steam engine made its inaugural run from London to York following a multi-million pound 10-year refit. The Flying Scotsman, repainted in traditional 1960s British Rail green, set off from King’s Cross at 7.40am as scheduled before roaring up the East Coast main line.

Former MP turned TV presenter Michael Portillo said: “This is certainly the most famous journey and most famous locomotive in Britain.” Among the passengers was 83-year-old Ron Kennedy, from Leigh-on-Sea, in Essex, who drove Flying Scotsman from 1956 until it was retired in 1963. He said “It’s unbelievable. I never dreamt about being on it again. To be out with it is just fantastic.”

Thousands of people lined the route as the locomotive sped north. In London hundreds of people with cameras crowded on to platforms to watch the seminal outing. Some enthusiasts have paid as much as £450 for a seat on the train. The locomotive, built at a cost of £8,000 in Doncaster in 1923, became the first ever to pull a train faster than 100mph in 1934.

flying-scotsman-3d-box_1Train enthusiast Tim Dunn, a trustee of the Sierra Leone National Railway Museum, was among those at King’s Cross for the send-off. The 34-year-old from London Bridge said the day marked a “wonderful” culmination of ten years of work and was an historic moment for the capital. “It’s because the Flying Scotsman has always been synonymous with London,” he said.

The steam engine was retired from service in 1963 but has been restored as part of a £4.2 million refit. After its arrival at York it will be kept at the city’s National Railway Museum until March 6 when it’s set to begin a tour around the country. Ahead of its inaugural journey, the NRM and Network Rail urged fans to view the locomotive “from a safe vantage point”.

They said: “It is vital that spectators do not venture on to the railway as a full timetable of regular services will be running. In order to avoid overcrowding we are not publishing recommended viewing points or the timetable of when the train will be passing through specific locations.”

Designed by Sir Nigel Gresley, Flying Scotsman emerged from Doncaster Works on 24 February 1923. The British Empire Exhibition in 1924 made Flying Scotsman famous. In 1934, Scotsman was clocked at 100mph – officially the first locomotive to have reached that speed. But some claim City of Truro was the first steam engine to break the 100mph record, in 1904, when it apparently reached a speed of 102mph running down a slope.

It is 70ft (21m) long, weighs about 96 tonnes and had a top speed of 100mph and it has travelled approximately 2,500,000 miles. It was specially designed to run non-stop on the London – Edinburgh route on the LNER (London and North Eastern Railway). It has a large eight-wheel tender which held 9 long tons of coal. This and the usual facility for water replenishment from the water trough system enabled The Scotsman and the other A3 locomotives to travel the 392 miles (631 km) from London to Edinburgh in eight hours non-stop. The tender includes a corridor connection and tunnel through the water tank giving access to the locomotive cab from the train so that the driver and fireman could be changed without stopping the train.


The most famous of the A1/A3 Class locomotives, A3 60103 Flying Scotsman

Having being painted black in World War II thousands turned out today to see it in its traditional classic green livery still turning heads on the track it was designed for as it steamed northwards from London to York to its permanent base at the National Railway Museum. From there it will be going around Britain on rail tours no doubt cheered on by young and old alike on its journeys.


The Skibbereen Eagle

In 1898, to widespread bemusement, a small Provincial Newspaper in an equally small town in the South West corner of Ireland sonorously warned the Czar of Russia that it knew what he was up to and he should be careful how he proceeded for “The Skibbereen Eagle” was wise to his game and in future would be keeping its eye on him! It is doubtful that Nicholas II, Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias, even noticed the Eagle’s admonitions but as history soon proved he should have paid closer attention to the Eagle’s insightful opinions!

Today, powered by its readers and contributors, from its cyber eyries in Ireland and the centres of the Irish Diaspora The Eagle casts its Cold Eye on Life and Death and much in between.
The Skibbereen Eagle

Latest posts by The Skibbereen Eagle (see all)

Comments are closed.