Steam, sweat and tears as Flying Scotsman leaves spectators …
We may be men of iron, said Don Vause, shaking his head in wonder, but we ve got very soft hearts. The 78-year-old had just watched Flying Scotsman s first public outing since 1995 following a 4.2m, 10-year restoration project. Just look at it, he cooed. Pure beauty.
The 1923 engine had chuntered into Bury s Bolton Street station, elegantly exhaling clouds of steam and tooting its arrival with a breathy whistle. On the platform, men closed their eyes and sucked in deeply like opium addicts taking a hit. What an engine, said Vause, a volunteer with Riley & Son, the Bury-based steam and diesel engineering specialists tasked with restoring the locomotive. The first time it moved this week we all cried. I went to church and said a little prayer when it moved. Flying Scotsman like Ukraine, it does not take the definite article was recently voted the world s favourite train, ahead of Thomas the Tank Engine, the Hogwarts Express and India s Rajadhani Express. But to call it a train is not strictly true, explained Bob Gwynne, associate curator at the National Railway Museum in York, which bought it for the nation in 2004 for 2.3m.
It s a locomotive. It s not a train until it s pulling carriages, he said. As for the absent the , he explains: The Flying Scotsman is the name of a train service which has been running between London and Scotland since 1862 it left Edinburgh Waverley at 05.40 this morning, in fact.
Originally built in Doncaster for the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) , Flying Scotsman ran on the national rail network until 1963. It hauled a service with a hairdressing salon and restaurant on board, a glamorous and quick way to get between the English and Scottish capitals. It was the first steam locomotive to travel at more than 100mph far quicker than many modern British train services. The LNER was savvy in its marketing, said Gwynne: It was really a very clever example of developing brand values, selling spin-off jigsaws and selling Flying Scotsman cocktails on board. After being retired by British Rail, the locomotive was bought by a private enthusiast, Alan Pegler. He restored it and took it on a tour of the United States, for which it was fitted with a bell, headlamp and cowcatcher. Under its next owner it went on a jaunt around Australia, where at one point it recorded what is thought to be the longest ever non-stop run by a steam locomotive, travelling 422 miles. The music producer Pete Waterman even owned a share in it for a while.
But what is so special about Flying Scotsman? It s redolent of a more leisured age, said Gwynne. Just like people enjoy watching Downton Abbey. Alan Poole, a 63-year-old trainspotter, said he admired the engineering. It requires hours of preparation with coal, fire and water, which combine to produce power to make it move. With diesel engines you just press a button and you re off. Flying Scotsman will now begin a two-year tour of Britain as a working museum exhibit. For the next nine days the locomotive will be shuttling up and down the East Lancashire Railway between Heywood and Rawtenstall. In February, it moves to the National Railway Museum and in March it will be running on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. Tickets are sold out.
- ^ the world s favourite train (www.dailymail.co.uk)
- ^ Flying Scotsman cocktails (www.diffordsguide.com)
- ^ East Lancashire Railway (www.eastlancsrailway.org.uk)
- ^ North Yorkshire Moors Railway (www.nymr.co.uk)