The Flying Scotsman is synonymous with the UK's golden age of steam and will forever be remembered as one of the true greats of the nation's railways.

From 1862 to 1962 the express passenger steam train hurtled up and down Britain, allowing people to visit parts of the country that had been previously off limits to them. While the Flying Scotsman still runs today in the form of the East Coast service between London and Scotland, the engine that everyone fondly remembers is the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) Class A3 Pacific steam locomotive 4472 Flying Scotsman.

It was a true giant of the railways reaching speeds of 100mph as it glided along the east coast of England and up into Scotland before making its way to Edinburgh Waverley. It is regarded as one of the gems of the nation's rail sector and many investors have been keen to keep the magnificent engine going through a series of restoration projects. Today it takes pride of place at the National Railway Museum in York.


In 1923 the world saw the Flying Scotsman roll off the production floor at the Doncaster railway works. Designed by Sir Nigel Gresley, also famous for creating the record-breaking Mallard steam engine, the locomotive was employed to conduct long-distance services on the LNER and any successors which took over the route.

Just a year after it was first put into use the Scotsman was selected to appear at the British Empire Exhibition in London and this is where it was given its full title of Flying Scotsman. Like fellow Sir Nigel creation Mallard, the engine was also a record-breaker after becoming the first locomotive ever to smash through the 100mph barrier in 1934.

The London to Edinburgh route proved a huge hit with passengers and the ability to travel between the two capitals without stopping (a new tender with a corridor allowing staff to interchange had been created in 1928) was a major plus point.


The Flying Scotsman, in its steam form, sadly relinquished its dominance of the rails in 1963 when the age of the electric locomotive was ushered in. Since then the engine has had somewhat of an unstable time.

It has changed hands a number of times but was first purchased by railway preservationist Alan Pegler. Based in the US, Pegler brought the Flying Scotsman back to her 1930s condition and was fitted with a bell, headlamp and cowcatcher. However, in 1988 the American hit financial difficulty and had to sell the engine on.

William McAlpine duly obliged and brought the engine back to home soil before touring Australia with it. Following this, it changed hands between record producer Pete Waterman and businessman Tony Marchington before it was finally up to the British public to save this beloved train.

The UK public gained control of the Flying Scotsman in 2004 after a successful campaign saw almost £3 million raised through a series of grants, donations and public money. Since that day the engine has been continually restored at the National Railway Museum in York where special exhibitions are held to celebrate the locomotive.