LNER Class A3 4472 Flying Scotsman is a Pacific steam locomotive built in 1923 for the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) at Doncaster Works to a design of Nigel Gresley. It was employed on long-distance express East Coast Main Line trains by the LNER and its successors, British Railways Eastern and North-Eastern Regions, notably on the London to Edinburgh Flying Scotsman train service after which it was named.
The locomotive set two world records for steam traction, becoming the first steam locomotive to be officially authenticated at reaching 100 miles per hour (160.9 km/h) on 30 November 1934, and then setting a record for the longest non-stop run by a steam locomotive when it ran 422 miles (679 km) on 8 August 1989 while in Australia.
Retired from regular service in 1963 after covering 2.08 million miles, Flying Scotsman enjoyed considerable fame in preservation under the ownership of, successively, Alan Pegler, William McAlpine, Tony Marchington, and finally the National Railway Museum (NRM).
As well as hauling enthusiast specials in the United Kingdom, the locomotive toured extensively in the United States and Canada from 1969 until 1973 and Australia in 1988/89. Flying Scotsman has been described as the world's most famous steam locomotive. In a 2015 poll which questioned people from four continents it was again ranked the most famous locomotive.
The locomotive was completed in 1923, construction having been started under the auspices of the Great Northern Railway (GNR). It was built as an A1, initially carrying the GNR number 1472, because the LNER had not yet decided on a system-wide numbering scheme.
Flying Scotsman was something of a flagship locomotive for the LNER. It represented the company at the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley Park in 1924 and 1925. Before this event, in February 1924 it acquired its name and the new number of 4472. From then on it was commonly used for promotional purposes.
With suitably modified valve gear, this locomotive was one of five Gresley Pacifics selected to haul the prestigious non-stop Flying Scotsman train service from London to Edinburgh, hauling the inaugural train on 1 May 1928. For this, the locomotives ran with a new version of the large eight-wheel tender which held nine long tons of coal. This and the usual facility for water replenishment from the water trough system enabled them to travel the 392 miles (631 km) from London to Edinburgh in eight hours non-stop.
The tender included 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 following year the locomotive appeared in the film The Flying Scotsman.
While the Great Western Railway locomotive City of Truro had previously been unofficially timed at running in excess of 100 mph (160.9 km/h), 4472 became the first steam locomotive to be officially authenticated at this speed on 30 November 1934, driven by Bill Sparshatt and running a light test train. It earned a place in the land speed record for railed vehicles; the publicity-conscious LNER made much of the fact.
The locomotive ran with its corridor tender between April 1928 and October 1936, after which it reverted to the original type; in July 1938 it was paired with a streamlined non-corridor tender, and ran with this type until withdrawal. On 22 August 1928 an improved version of this Pacific type, classified A3, appeared; older A1 locomotives were later rebuilt to conform. On 25 April 1945, A1-class locomotives not yet rebuilt were reclassified A10 to make way for newer Thompson and Peppercorn Pacifics. Flying Scotsman emerged from Doncaster Works on 4 January 1947 as an A3, having received a boiler with the long "banjo" dome of the type it carries today. By this time it had been renumbered twice: under Edward Thompson's comprehensive renumbering scheme for the LNER, it became No. 502 in January 1946; in May the same year, under an amendment to that plan, it became No. 103. Following nationalisation of the railways on 1 January 1948, almost all of the LNER locomotive numbers were increased by 60000; No. 103 became 60103 in December 1948.
Between 5 June 1950 and 4 July 1954, and between 26 December 1954 and 1 September 1957, under British Railways ownership, it was allocated to Leicester Central shed on the Great Central Railway, running Nottingham Victoria to London Marylebone services via Leicester Central.
All A3 Pacifics were subsequently fitted with a double Kylchap chimney to improve performance and economy. This caused soft exhaust and smoke drift that tended to obscure the driver's forward vision; the remedy was found in the German-type smoke deflectors fitted from 1960, which somewhat changed the locomotives' appearance.
In 1962, British Railways announced that it would scrap Flying Scotsman. No. 60103 ended service with its last scheduled run on 14 January 1963, shortly after previous owner Alan Pegler bought the locomotive. Previously proposed to be saved by a group called "Save Our Scotsman", they were unable to raise the required £3,000, the scrap value of the locomotive.
Alan Pegler, who first saw the locomotive at the British Empire Exhibition in 1924, in 1961 received £70,000 for his shareholding in Northern Rubber when it was sold to Pegler's Valves, a company started by his grandfather. When Flying Scotsman was due to be scrapped, Pegler stepped in and bought it outright in 1963, with the political support of Prime Minister Harold Wilson. He spent large amounts of money over the next few months having the locomotive restored at Doncaster Works as closely as possible to its LNER condition: the smoke deflectors were removed; the double chimney was replaced by a single chimney; and the tender was replaced by one of the corridor type with which the locomotive had run between 1928 and 1936. It was also repainted in LNER livery.
Pegler then persuaded the British Railways Board to let him run enthusiasts' specials; it was at the time the only steam locomotive running on the British Railways mainline. It worked a number of rail tours, including a non-stop London to Edinburgh run in 1968, the year steam traction officially ended on BR. In the meantime, watering facilities for steam locomotives were disappearing, so in September 1966, Pegler purchased a second corridor tender which was adapted as an auxiliary water tank; retaining its through gangway, this was coupled behind the normal tender.
Pegler had a contract permitting him to run his locomotive on BR until 1972. Following overhaul in the winter of 1968–69 Harold Wilson's government agreed to support Pegler running the locomotive in the United States and Canada to support British exports. To comply with local railway regulations it was fitted with: a cowcatcher, bell, buckeye couplings, American-style whistle, air brakes, and high-intensity headlamp. Starting in Boston, Massachusetts, the tour ran into immediate problems, with some states increasing costs by requiring diesel-headed-haulage through them, seeing the locomotive as a fire hazard. However, the train ran from Boston to New York City, Washington, D.C. and Dallas in 1969; from Texas to Wisconsin and finishing in Montreal in 1970; and from Toronto to San Francisco in 1971 – a total of 15,400 miles (24,800 km).
Government financial support for the tour was withdrawn by Prime Minister Edward Heath's Conservative government in 1970, but Pegler decided to return for the 1970 season. By the end of that season's tour, the money had run out and Pegler was £132,000 in debt, with the locomotive in storage at the US Army Sharpe Depot to keep it away from unpaid creditors. Pegler worked his passage home from San Francisco to England on a P&O cruise ship in 1971, giving lectures about trains and travel. He was declared bankrupt in the High Court in 1972.
Fears then arose for the engine's future, the speculation being that it might remain in the US or even be broken up. After Alan Bloom made a personal phone call to him in January 1973, William McAlpine stepped in, dealt with the attorney, paid the creditors and bought the locomotive. It was welded to the deck of a cargo ship and returned to the UK via the Panama Canal in February 1973. On arrival at Liverpool, it was suggested that it should be put on a low-loader but McAlpine insisted that it should travel under its own steam. The route to Derby was lined with crowds. McAlpine paid for the locomotive's restoration at Derby Works and two subsequent overhauls in the 23 years that he owned and ran it.
Trial runs took place on the Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railway: of which McAlpine was Chairman, in summer 1973, after which it was transferred to Steamtown (Carnforth), from where it steamed on regular tours. In December 1977, Flying Scotsman entered the Vickers Engineering Works, Barrow-in-Furness, for heavy repairs, including an unused replacement boiler.
In October 1988, at the invitation of the Australian Government, Flying Scotsman arrived in Australia to take part in the country's bicentenary celebrations as a central attraction in the Aus Steam '88 festival. The event organisers had been interested in having LNER A4 No 4468 Mallard visit, but it was unavailable due to the 50th anniversary of its world record high-speed run, and 4472 was recommended as its replacement. During the course of the next year Flying Scotsman travelled more than 45,000 kilometres (28,000 mi) over Australian rails, concluding with a return transcontinental run from Sydney to Perth via Alice Springs in which it became the first steam locomotive to travel on the recently-built standard gauge line to Alice Springs.
Other highlights included Flying Scotsman double-heading with New South Wales Government Railways Pacific locomotive 3801, a triple-parallel run alongside broad gauge Victorian Railways R class locomotives, and parallel runs alongside South Australian Railways locomotives 520 and 621. Its visit to Perth saw a reunion with GWR 4073 Class Pendennis Castle, which had been exhibited alongside Flying Scotsman at the 1924 British Empire Exhibition. On 8 August 1989 Flying Scotsman set another record en route to Alice Springs from Melbourne, travelling 679 kilometres (422 mi) from Parkes to Broken Hill non-stop, the longest such run by a steam locomotive ever recorded. The same journey also saw Flying Scotsman set its own haulage record when it took a 735-ton train over the 790-kilometre (490 mi) leg between Tarcoola and Alice Springs.
Flying Scotsman returned to Britain in 1990 and continued working on the main line until its mainline certificate expired in 1993. 4472 then toured preserved railways after being returned to BR condition, with the refitting of the German-style smoke deflectors and double chimney, and repainting in BR Brunswick green. By 1995 it was in pieces at Southall Railway Centre in West London, awaiting its next overhaul, owned by a consortium that included McAlpine as well as music guru and railway enthusiast Pete Waterman.
Facing an uncertain future owing to the cost of restoration and refurbishment necessary to meet the stringent engineering standards required for main line operation, salvation came in 1996 when Dr Tony Marchington, already well known in the vintage movement, bought the locomotive, and had it restored over three years to running condition at a cost of £1 million, a restoration which, at the time, was recognised as the most extensive in the locomotive's history. Marchington's time with the Flying Scotsman was documented in a documentary, the Channel 4 programme A Steamy Affair: The Story of Flying Scotsman. This time around, for an initial short period, it still retained the double chimney, but without the German Smoke Deflectors, and it was repainted in the LNER Livery. Shortly afterwards, the German smoke deflectors were refitted. It also still carried the redundant A4 boiler.
With Flying Scotsman's regular use both on the VSOE Pullman and with other events on the main line, in 2002, Marchington proposed a business plan, which included the construction of a "Flying Scotsman Village" in Edinburgh, to create revenue from associated branding. After floating on OFEX as Flying Scotsman plc in the same year, in 2003 Edinburgh City Council turned down the village plans, and in September 2003 Marchington was declared bankrupt. At the company's AGM in October 2003, CEO Peter Butler announced losses of £474,619, and with a £1.5 million overdraft at Barclays Bank and stated that the company only had enough cash to trade until April 2004. The company's shares were suspended from OFEX on 3 November 2003 after it had failed to declare interim results.
National Railway Museum
In February 2004, a debt agency acting on behalf of Flying Scotsman plc announced it would hold a sealed bid auction for the locomotive, to be held on 2 April. Amid media fears it could be sold into foreign hands, the National Railway Museum in York announced it would bid, and appealed for funds. They succeeded with a bid of £2.3 million, 15% higher than the second highest.
The bulk of the money came from a £1.8m grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, with the remainder coming from £350,000 raised from donations, which was matched by Richard Branson, with another £70,000 raised by the Yorkshire Post newspaper. Included in the sale was the A3 pattern spare boiler (built in 1944 and carried by Flying Scotsman from 1965 to 1978), spare cylinders and a Mk1 support coach. The locomotive arrived in York in time to be exhibited as part of the museum's Railfest 2004, a celebration of 200 years of rail travel.
Under pressure from donors, instead of being placed on static display it was decided to use the locomotive for charter trains out of York, as well as on the Scarborough Spa Express (York to Scarborough), although problems with its condition soon became apparent. Having failed on the delivery trip to Railfest, arriving on tow, after considerable remedial work it then proceeded to fail numerous times in the following months, with the museum's engineering staff kept constantly busy effecting running repairs, but failed to spot critical faults that would delay the subsequent overhauls and restoration. From September 2004 until May 2005 it was put into the workshops for a heavy intermediate repair, the intention being to improve reliability and allow operation until its heavy general repair (overhaul) and restoration. The intermediate repair failed to improve reliability, and so the decision was taken to go ahead with the overhaul and restoration.
In January 2006, Flying Scotsman duly entered the National Railway Museum's workshops for a major overhaul to return it to Gresley's original specification and to renew its boiler certificate. It was initially estimated that this would only take one year, and cost around £750,000. The bay in which the locomotive was being refurbished was on view to visitors to the NRM but the engine was rapidly dismantled to such an extent that the running plate was the only component recognisable to the casual observer.
In anticipation of the restoration, the spare A3 boiler had been dispatched in June 2005 to Riley & Son to be completely rebuilt. It was to be used instead of the A4 boiler both out of the desire to restore the locomotive to original condition, and because it was deemed that the A4 boiler had deteriorated into a worse state than the spare due to the higher operating pressures the locomotive had experienced following the up-rating of the locomotive to 250psi during its last private overhaul. Deemed surplus to requirements, the A4 boiler was sold to Jeremy Hosking for potential use on his locomotive, LNER Class A4 4464 Bittern.
In July 2007, the museum pushed back the expected completion date by 18 months, due in part to issues with the boiler restoration. By January 2009, with further problems encountered including misaligned frames and a cracked right hand cylinder, as well as due to rising metal prices, the museum launched the SOS (Save Our Scotsman) appeal, seeking to raise a further £250,000, hoping to complete the work by 2010. In May 2011, the locomotive was unveiled on the museum's turntable, finished in wartime black LNER livery; following final testing it was planned to finish it in LNER apple green and have it running excursions by the summer. In June 2011, cracks were discovered in the horn blocks, which led to further testing which discovered numerous latent cracks throughout the frame assembly, leading to the replacement of the main stretcher bar, horn ties and middle cylinder motion bracket, all of which were deemed beyond repair.
In October 2012, with the project still unfinished, the museum published a report examining the reasons for the delay and additional cost. It found that the museum had greatly underestimated the work required due to the poor condition of the locomotive, much of which had been missed by a rushed inspection, which produced an overly optimistic assessment which was not based on engineering realities. It also found that once the project was underway, management lacked the experience, continuity or resources to undertake such a complex task, which was also hampered by illness and recruitment issues. Although the museum had a formal contract system to manage suppliers, managers failed to implement it properly, and it was ill-suited to the cottage industry nature of the heritage railway sector which the suppliers were largely drawn from, many of whom had failed to meet their contractual targets. Problems were also caused by the conflicting objectives of producing a certified main line locomotive while retaining as many original components and assemblies as possible, and between the need to overhaul the locomotive and use it as a marketing tool for the museum. The report recommended that the NRM consider the scope, size and responsibilities of their project management and engineering functions, and their contracting policy.
Following the report, the NRM commissioned First Class Partnerships (FCP) to independently review the remaining work identified as necessary by the NRM, and make recommendations on how to proceed. In March 2013, the museum announced FCP had determined the locomotive would not return to the main line until 2015, and believed the outstanding work should be put out to external tender. On 29 October 2013 the museum announced Riley & Son in Bury, Greater Manchester as the winning contractor, and the same day the locomotive was moved to their workshop in order to return it to running condition no earlier than summer 2015. On 29 April 2015, Flying Scotsman's boiler left the National Railway Museum to be reunited with the rest of the locomotive at Riley & Son in Bury. However, the museum rescheduled the locomotive to be back in service by late 2015/early 2016 when it was being fitted with equipment needed to operate on the mainline.
Return to service
The overhaul was completed in January 2016 and testing began on the East Lancashire Railway on 8 January 2016, with the locomotive still wearing its 2011 Wartime Black livery with the numbers 60103 on the smokebox, and its appropriate LNER Wartime numbers, 103 and 502 on the cab sides. Flying Scotsman was originally planned to haul its inaugural mainline train called the Winter Cumbrian Mountain Express from Manchester Victoria to Carlisle on 23 January, but it was cancelled due to the locomotive having faulty brakes. The first mainline run, pulling the Winter Cumbrian Mountain Express from Carnforth to Carlisle, took place on 6 February. An inaugural journey from London King's Cross to York in British Railways Brunswick Green livery ran on 25 February. However, during this event, members of the public stopped Flying Scotsman due to their trespassing on the line near St Neots. Flying Scotsman made special tours throughout Great Britain in 2016.
In September 2016, the museum announced the final cost of the restoration as £4.5 million, having risen from a £4.2m estimate released in summer 2015 due to further work being necessary, and the need to meet the deadline for the return to service. On 31 March 2017, the Flying Scotsman was chosen to lead an excursion train for the reopening of the Settle–Carlisle line due to the damage caused by a landslip in late 2015 and early 2016.
Debate over restoration
In 2011, the National Railway Museum announced that Flying Scotsman will be painted in LNER war time black livery when it undergoes steam tests and commissioning runs, with the letters "N E" on the sides of its tender, number "103" on one side of the cab and "502" on the other – the numbers it was given under the LNER's renumbering system. The locomotive remained in black for the NRM's Flying Scotsman Preview event on 28–30 May 2011.
During the museum's Railfest event on 2–10 June 2012, Flying Scotsman was kept in front of Mallard in a siding in its black livery. A report on the restoration was published, in redacted form, on 7 March 2013. On 23 January 2015, the NRM announced that the smoke deflectors and double chimney will be retained, including a return to its BR green livery, to keep it as historically accurate as possible as No. 60103.
In popular culture
Because of the LNER's emphasis on using the locomotive for publicity purposes, and then its eventful preservation history, including two international forays, it is one of the UK's most recognised locomotives. One of its first film appearances was in the 1929 film The Flying Scotsman, which featured an entire sequence set aboard the locomotive.
Flying Scotsman was featured in The Railway Series books by the Rev. W. Awdry. The locomotive visited the fictional Island of Sodor in the book Enterprising Engines to visit its only remaining brother, Gordon. During this time, it had two tenders. This was a key feature of the plot of one of the stories, "Tenders for Henry". When the story was filmed for the television series Thomas & Friends, renamed as "Tender Engines", only Flying Scotsman's two tenders were seen outside a shed. He originally was intended to have a larger role in this episode, but because of budgetary constraints, the entire locomotive model could not be constructed.
A model of the Flying Scotsman appeared in Episode 6 and "The Great Train Race" episodes of James May's Toy Stories. It was James May's personal childhood model and was chosen by him to complete a world record for the longest model railway. The train was meant to travel seven miles from Barnstaple to Bideford, in North Devon and it failed early in the trip in Episode 6 but managed to complete it in "The Great Train Race" which took place on 16 April 2011. The model reappeared in James May: The Reassembler, where it was completely disassembled and then put back together by May as a demonstration.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to LNER Class A3 4472 Flying Scotsman.|
- National Railway Museum's site about Flying Scotsman train and locomotive
- The official National Railway Museum print website containing many Flying Scotsman prints and posters
- BBC "Nation on Film" article with historic films of Flying Scotsman in steam.
- The LNER Encyclopedia page for the Gresley A1/A3s including Flying Scotsman
- History of the Flying Scotsman by Southern Steam Trains
- The Flying Scotsman (The Unstoppable Flying Scotsman), 2018 TV documentary