Published: 24th September 2015
As one LNER iconic Gresley designed locomotive starts its overhaul, another, the public-owned No. 4472/60103 Flying Scotsman is at the end of a near decade-long overhaul costing over four million pounds. Details of its return to service in 2016 have been announced by owners The National Railway Museum (NRM). Completion work on the engine is being carried out in Bury, Lancashire by Riley & Son (E) Ltd who will be responsible for the engine’s operation for two years.
Arguably the World’s most famous locomotive (barring Thomas The Tank Engine and Hogwarts Castle!) the engine has been scheduled to appear in its black undercoat during test runs at the East Lancashire Railway followed by running in its BR green livery at the North Yorkshire Moors Railway and at the Severn Valley Railway.
The engine’s initial main line run will take place in February between Kings Cross and York and into the NRM to form the opening event for the February ‘Flying Scotsman’ Season. This will be, the NRM promise, a celebration of the fame and celebrity of the locomotive legend, and will include an exhibition exploring the highs and lows of the steam icon’s rollercoaster career and a Flying Scotsman display in the museum’s Hall of railway greats.
The engine’s first run in 1928 was witnessed by huge crowds on departure from Kings Cross. These are sure to be repeated all along the line to York.
One of the more unlikely facts about Flying Scotsman is that it took part in The Battle of Britain in the skies above England. A Spitfire allocated to the ‘Natal’ Squadron was named after the famous engine and by July 1942, Natal had destroyed 70 enemy aircraft in two years. During the Battle of Britain 75 years ago, the Squadron flew over London and accounted for over 30 enemy aircraft. The flying version of the locomotive joined the Squadron in January 1942 and was piloted by Squadron Commander carrying out sweeps, escort, interception duties and accompanied convoys sometimes performing air-sea rescue work.
Jim Lowe, Head of Operations at the National Railway Museum said: “With its new BR Green No. 60103 guise, Flying Scotsman will be starting a new chapter in its long and fascinating history as the oldest UK mainline working locomotive. The decade-long restoration has seen the engine literally taken down to the bare bones, the frames, it will probably be in the best condition it’s been in since the comprehensive overhaul it received at Doncaster Works in 1963.
Once Scotsman’s return to mainline operation is complete, the commercial partnership agreement under which Riley & Son (E) Ltd will manage the operation of the locomotive for a period of two years also includes a programme of on-going maintenance.