The legendary locomotive, Flying Scotsman, was built in Doncaster for the London and North Eastern Railway. Work was completed in 1923. Whilst in service the Flying Scotsman hauled the train of the same name between London and Edinburgh, and it quickly became famous. It was also a record breaker: the first locomotive to run non-stop between London and Edinburgh, and the first locomotive to reach 100 mph in the UK.
The Flying Scotsman remained in service until 1963, when it was retired by British Rail. Between 1963 and 2004, the engine was in private ownership. It toured the US and Australia, but the occasional financial crisis put the Flying Scotsman at risk. One owner went bankrupt and the locomotive was stranded in the US for a number of years.
In 2004 the National Railway Museum, based in York, headed up a campaign to raise funds to buy the Flying Scotsman and preserve it for the nation. In 2006 a £4.2 million restoration process began, designed to restore it to full-time working order.
The restoration programme was completed in 2015 and, following tests, was once again licensed to run on UK mainline railways. The Flying Scotsman is now based in York, but spends much of its time running excursions round the country.
The Flying Scotsman finally came home to York February 25th 2015, and by a stroke of good luck I just happened to be in York with my camera at the time. A large crowd greeted the locomotive as it pulled into York station, before being moved to a siding at the National Railway Museum for the official greeting ceremony.
It was a grey and chilly day, but I managed to get some decent photographs, despite the crowds. Fortunately I had a long zoom lens on my camera that day, and most of the photographs were taken with my camera held above my head.
It was quite moving to see the locomotive pulling into the museum siding: I think steam railways are in my blood. My grandfather was a railway signalman, and my father started his working life as a railway engineer. I’ve also unearthed some more railway workers in my family, so I’ve got family connections to the railway going back at least 150 years.
In truth there’s not much of the original Flying Scotsman left, most of it having been replaced in various refits and repairs. But that’s not the point: what’s more important is the fact that it lives in people’s memory as a powerful reminder of the past.
Enjoy the photographs!