The Flying Scotsman holds a special place in the hearts of many and 2016 is the year to celebrate this iconic locomotive. Amy Moore reports.
The return of the Flying Scotsman after a £4.2million refurbishment is being marked with a series of special events, activities and exhibitions which will enable visitors to get up close to the famous train.
The National Railway Museum’s 2016 Flying Scotsman season features three separate exhibitions. The Starring Scotsman gallery exhibition explores the tumultuous journey of the ultimate diva of the tracks and runs until June 19.
Stunts, Speed and Style explores the history of the Flying Scotsman service from the 1890s to the 1960s. Visitors will be transported back in time on board the vintage carriages of four locomotives, including the Flying Scotsman, which hauled leisure and business travellers between London and Edinburgh from the late 19th century to the present day. This free to view display runs from Friday March 25 to May 8.
Service with Style is an innovative, experimental exhibition which will enable visitors to immerse themselves in the glamour and luxury of the Flying Scotsman train service throughout the eras. Three carriages of the kind that travelled the Flying Scotsman route will house audio and film clips, archive news footage and sample menus. Tickets for the exhibition, which runs from March 25 to May 8, are priced at £8.
There are also special photography and exclusive access events for those who are keen to avoid the crowds. And, throughout the season at the York-based museum, there will be a family-friendly science show called Need For Speed, craft activities during school holidays, and a programme of educational talks.
The season concludes with a chance to see the Flying Scotsman in light steam at a 60s-style Shed Bash at the Locomotion; The National Railway Museum’s site in Shildon, County Durham.
The Flying Scotsman made its first public outing in 10 years in January 2016 during test runs on the East Lancashire Railway. After that, it heads to the Railway Touring Company’s scenic Manchester to Carlisle route, the North Yorkshire Moors Railway in Pickering, mainline to Scotland in May and the Severn Valley Railway in Kidderminster, Worcestershire in September 2016.
The Flying Scotsman was built in 1923 and named after the 10am service from London to Edinburgh. It became famous on November 30 1934, when it became the first steam locomotive to reach 100 miles per hour.
The National Railway Museum purchased the Flying Scotsman in April 2004 for £2.3 million; with the aim of operating the train as a working museum exhibit. The cost of its restoration was supported by a £1.8 million grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, contributions from the general public, and a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £275,000.
“Flying Scotsman’s life so far has been an incredible rollercoaster ride, and we’ve had so much fun exploring its ups and downs to prepare our Starring Scotsman exhibition,” says Jamie Taylor, Interpretation Developer at The National Railway Museum. “I’m sure the public will be fascinated by the wonderful stories we’ve uncovered and our exhibition’s playful approach to the amazing story of the original steam star.”
Admission to The National Railway Museum, which houses the largest collection of train stock in the world, is free. For more information and to buy exhibition tickets, visit www.nrm.org.uk/flyingscotsman. n
Five Flying Scotsman Facts
- The Flying Scotsman appeared in the film of the same name in 1929. It also featured in 102 Dalmatians (preparing to haul the Orient Express) and in the Thomas the Tank Engine books (as the brother of Gordon).
- It set the record for the longest non-stop journey by a steam locomotive – continuously clocking up 422 miles when on tour in Australia on August 8, 1989.
- It was the first coal-powered locomotive to run non-stop between London and Edinburgh. The train hauled the first of those journeys on 1 May 1928, reducing the journey time to eight hours.
- High-profile owners have included record producer Pete Waterman, and property developer Sir William McAlpine.
- It toured the United States and Canada between 1969 and 1973, taking in Boston, New York, Washington DC, Montreal, Toronto and San Francisco, covering a total of 15,400 miles*.