Some steam trains and routes are renowned across the world.
The Trans Siberian Express is one of the most famous, taking passengers through Russia and then onwards to Asia passing through glorious Siberian scenery. Simply uttering the name of this route will instantly strike a chord with many people, there are other lines which are not as renowned to many by name alone.
Mention The Jacobite in a conversation and many people will just stare blankly but then drop in the words Hogwarts Express and it will put a whole different perspective on the train and the line. Since the release of the Harry Potter film franchise, the train has become an iconic feature and a part of the story that any film buff will find hard to forget.
The train was the meeting place for Harry, Ron and Hermione in the Philosopher's Stone while the Chamber of Secrets saw Harry and Ron miss the train from platform nine and three-quarters leading them to steal a flying car and landing on the track followed closely by the train. En route to Hogwarts the train passed through some magnificent scenery including a dramatic view of the Glenfinnan viaduct.
Fans of the book and film series have the opportunity to actually trace the footsteps of Harry, Ron and Hermione by taking a trip on The Jacobite. The service passes through the dramatic Scottish highlands starting from Fort William and snaking its way up to the quaint port town of Mallaig where they can hop on a ferry to Skye and the Small Isles.
The Jacobite has closed for 2013 but will be running once again from May 12th to October 24th 2014 and bookings will be taken from November 18th 2013. The true highlight of the journey is of course the Glenfinnan viaduct, which is synonymous with the Harry Potter movies. This 21-arch feat of construction is an absolutely glorious sight, the service may also stop momentarily allowing people to take pictures of Loch Shiel and the Jacobite monument.
Harry Potter fans have long been interested with the actual Hogwarts Express itself. The engine is actually the Great Western Railway (GWR) 4900 Class 5972 Olton Hall and was first created in April 1937 at GWR Swindon Works. Designed by Charles Collett it was used to run services from Carmarthen, South Wales, and was earmarked for scrap in May 1964 but was saved by Procor (UK) Ltd in Wakefield who went about restoring the model.
Olton Hall was chosen for the Harry Potter franchise and was converted into the Hogwarts Express, carrying a headboard of the same name. It became an iconic sight in its crimson shade and school crest as it chugged its way to the famous school where Harry learnt his craft as a wizard. With the series at an end Olton Hall has been put on display at the National Railway Museum in York where people come from all over the country to see a major part of movie memorabilia for years to come.