West Somerset Railway

About the Flying Scotsman

Flying Scotsman was designed by Nigel Gresley and was completed in 1923, becoming the first ever new build locomotive for the newly formed London and North Eastern Railway (LNER).

Flying Scotsman was designed by Nigel Gresley and was completed in 1923, becoming the first ever new build locomotive for the newly formed London and North Eastern Railway (LNER). Originally a class A1, the locomotive was the most powerful used by the company at that time and was given the name Flying Scotsman after the express train from London to Edinburgh which had been started in 1862. In 1924 the Flying Scotsman locomotive was chosen to appear in the British Empire Exhibition and was featured in very many publicity events for the LNER.

In 1928 the locomotive tender was altered to include a corridor which enabled the loco crew to changeover during the long journey from London to Edinburgh.  It was then possible to undertake the first regular non-stop service from London to Edinburgh, shortening the travel time to just 8 hours.

In 1934 it became the first locomotive to be officially recorded at 100 mph. When the war came the loco was changed from its original green colour to black in line with most steam locomotives around at this time. After the war the locomotive was repainted green and was rebuilt as an A3 pacific.

In some ways what has happened to Flying Scotsman after "retiring" from British Railways in 1963 has been even more important in building the mythology around this locomotive. After being bought by Alan Peglar and for a time being the only steam locomotive running on the main line, it travelled to the United States, but unfortunately Alan Peglar eventually went bankrupt, with the loco stranded in the USA. For some time it looked like that was the end of the story but it was then bought by William McAlpine and transported back to the UK in 1972. It ran in the UK for a while and travelled to Australia in 1988/89, where it had a successful tour. After various owners and a difficult financial history, the National Railway Museum launched a national appeal and it was bought by the NRM in 2004.  Further difficulties ensued during its restoration but it finally returned to steam and began hauling fare paying passengers on the mainline again in 2015.   It is now the oldest mainline working locomotive in Britain, and is owned by the Nation.

This is the first visit of Flying Scotsman to the south-west since its recent restoration.  The West Somerset Railway is one of only three heritage railways on which this historic locomotive will be operating this year and the visit promises to be a very exciting occasion. 

Much more information about the Flying Scotsman can be found here.