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Flying Scotsman locomotive 1923

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Flying Scotsman locomotive 1923

There are no book on locomotives that would be complete without the inclusion of this amazing machine. Built in 1923, it has achieved ‘superstar’ status and is generally considered by all but the most blinkered partisans of other railways to be the best-known railway engine in the world. Its only possible challengers would be Rocket, Mallard, and ‘Thomas the Tank’, ‘Scotsman’ is also the most widely-travelled locomotive on the planet, in terms of the number of continents it has run on and the fact that it has circumnavigated the globe.

Flying Scotsman locomotive 1923

Flying Scotsman locomotive 1923
TECHNICAL DATA
Introduced  1923
Builder  LNER Doncaster
Designer  Gresley
Boiler pressure  180psi
Weight (loco) 92  tons
Cylinders (3)  20  x  26 in
Tractive effort  29,835lb

Valve gear  Walschaerts
Driving wheel diameter  6 ft  8 in
Other numbers  1472/502/103/60103
Withdrawn / Preserved  1963/NRM York

On top of that, it was the first steam loco officially to ‘do the ton’ and it holds the steam record for the longest-ever non-stop run (422 miles in 9,5 hours while in Australia). In fact, Flying Scotsman was already a ‘first’ before it was even ‘born’, for its frames were laid down in Doncaster Works by the Great Northern Railway before it went out of existence - meaning that No. 1472 became the newly-formed LNER’s inaugural express passenger engine in February 1923.

It took its first steps towards legendary status the next year when it was chosen by the LNER to represent the company at the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley. For that it needed at name, so the LNE pulled off a publicity masterstroke and gave it the same title as its 10am King’s Cross-Edinburgh express. Ever since then, the public’s confusion between the ‘Flying Scotsman’ train and the Flying Scotsman loco has run rife, but affected neither.

The A1 Pacific returned to Wembley for the 1925 show, but it was in 1928 that it really hit the headlines when it hauled the first non-stop ‘Flying Scotsman’ from London to Edinburgh, using Gresley’s revolutionary new corridor tender to enable the crews to change over halfway. That run of a world record- breaking service captured huge media and public attention - and the engine’s name was branded even further into the national consciousness six years later when it became the first steam loco in the world to run at an authenticated 1OOmph (the speed being recorded by a dynamometer car). In 1947, it became an A3, but, inconceivable as it may now seem, this national hero was not earmarked for official preservation by the BTC in the early 1960s - so the A3s could have become extinet. Appalled at that injustice, businessman Alan Pegler (who had been a small boy at the 1924 Wembley exhibition) decided to buy the Pacific himself and from that point, No. 4472’s fame began to accelerate.

After six glorious years running specials all over the UK, often drawing massive crowds who’d never seen an LNER loco before, Pegler shipped it to North America and spent four years touring coast-to-coast in the US and Canada. He went bankrupt, but the loco was repatriated in 1973 by Sir William McAlpine, who ran it extensively in Britain until he too decided to take the A3 overseas - this time to Australia. That trip took place in late-1988 and it stayed just over a year, covering 28,000 miles. In 1996, McAlpine sold it to Tony Marchington and in 2004 RM readers' donations helped it enter die National Collection that should have been its rightful home back in 1963. But then it almost certainly wouldn't have had so much extra fame.

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