The Flying Scotsman Comes Home

A packed welcome
There was a big crowd to welcome the Scotsman back to York. I'm so glad I had a long zoom lens with me.

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!

A packed welcome

There was a big crowd to welcome the Scotsman back to York. I’m so glad I had a long zoom lens with me.

Flying Scotsman Crew

The crew of the Flying Scotsman, resting after bringing it into York. It just goes to show that steam trains aren’t just for old men!

Piped Home

What better way of welcoming a Scotsman home!

Speech Time

There were speeches of course. The woman in the red dress is Mary Archer. I don’t know what she was looking for: maybe Jeffrey’s done a runner!

Splendid Isolation

A lucky picture of the Scotsman without the crowds.

Flying Scotsman Chimney

The Scotsman’s chimney and smoke box, not long after it pulled into York. Like the rest of the engine, the paintwork is pristine.

Flying Scotsman's Front End.

A night shot of the Flying Scotsman’s smokebox door. Close up it’s like a resting giant.

Scotsman By Night

When everyone had gone home I had the Scotsman pretty much to myself. At night it was even more imposing and magnificent than in the day-time.


4 Responses

  1. Thank you John for posting about riding on the footplate, I was starting to doubt my memory. We were lucky to live when safety was not only thing that mattered.

    • John Mettham says:

      Matthew Eglin!! [jaw-drop] How you doin’ mate? We should have a Glossop School Orchestra / Band re-union. Catch up with all folk we haven’t seen for 40 years. Maybe we could have it AT Glossop School and all go and smoke fags behind the music block…

      You make a good point about safety. As I remember, (I used to have a photo… now lost after many house moves) the footplate of the F-S was rammed with kids in enormous flappy flares and highly flammable nylon shirts, all staggering about in platform shoes next to the blazing boiler as the engine rocked and jolted for each shunt up and down the track. Can’t imagine that being allowed in our current, more enlightened times.

  2. John Mettham says:

    All good pictures Dave, enjoyed the whole set, but No’s 2 & 7 are crackin’…
    I rode on the footplate of the Flying Scotsman when it… (she?) came to Dinting Railway Museum in the 70’s. Only about 200 yards of track to pootle up and down on but you could feel the fettered power of it beneath your feet. It was like standing on a hot, jittery horse.
    Steam engines are considerably less efficient than modern day engines but somehow, with all their puffing and grunting and fiery breath, they seem much more “alive”. You’ve captured that well in your pictures mee ol’ mate.

    • Dave Fernley says:

      Thanks for the comment me old pal. Glad you like the pictures. There’s something really moving about steam engine’s close up. I remember the Flying Scotsman at Dinting, but I wasn’t lucky enough to ride on the footplate. You’re right, steam engines are inefficient, but you can’t help but love’em!

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