by Geoff Marsh

Taxpayer-owned Flying Scotsman returns to service after multi-million pound overhaul – but is it really the World’s most famous engine?

Published: 7th February 2016

A brief history of Flying Scotsman

The National Railway Museum (NRM) in York has gone into overdrive with the return to service of the London & North Eastern Railway’s 1923 Doncaster built Flying Scotsman on February 6th.

The NRM will have breathed a huge collective sigh of relief as its flagship exhibit once again starts to operate revenue earning trains. It made its return to service on Feb 6 running from Carnforth to Carlisle via Ribblehead Viaduct.

The catering on Scotsman’s first train back in service was provided by Gravy Train catering company who are the railway’s largest Silver Service train caterers.

The engine last operated in the summer of 2005 on the York to Scarborough route before the overhaul commenced in January 2006 at the NRM.

Expensive errors

Unfortunately, the NRM didn’t have the skills or knowledge to progress the overhaul which soon became embroiled in an expensive time-consuming controversy. The engine was presented to the public a few years ago in the Museum as ready for service, but it soon became apparent that the overhaul had not been carried out at all well and it was again dismantled.

The engine’s overhaul, estimated to have cost about £4.2million, was subsequently project managed by First Class Partnerships and the physical

contracted to Ian Riley at his Bury Locomotive Works near Manchester. Mr Riley will manage the operation and maintain the locomotive for two years.

Now the test and first commercial run has been completed, the engine is being painted into British Rail Green over the next few weeks and it will become the oldest working steam locomotive on the mainline.

Taxpayer owned locomotive

The engine is owned by all of us given the NRM is part of the Science Museum Group and attracting 700,000 visitors annually at York.

Taxpayers’ ownership commenced for a second time (the first was in 1948 when the railways were nationalised) in 2004 when owner Tony Marchington offered it for sale from a former farm shed near Banbury. The Railway Magazine launched an appeal supported by the public and the engine was eventually purchased for £2.3 million supported by a £1.8 million grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund. The restoration was also supported by a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £275,000.

Tony Marchington purchased the locomotive from Bill McAlpine and Pete Waterman in early 1996 for £1.3 million which included the Lease on Southall depot, machine tools and spares plus a spare Tender. Also included was a Mark One sleeping car, a support coach, nine Met Cam Mark One Pullmans and diesel shunter. An initial payment of £100k was made followed by stage payments made over the next 12 months.

The Word’s most famous locomotive or train?

Is Flying Scotsman the most famous locomotive in the World? Two contenders for this title are Thomas The Tank Engine and Hogwarts Castle. So far as the NRM is concerned, it is their engine!

And don’t forget! The Flying Scotsman train predated the engine of the same name by over 30 years running between Kings Cross and Edinburgh. A fact overlooked by many!


  • 7 Feb.1923 - Ex Doncaster. Works no 1564. Loco no 1472. Cost £7944. Coupled to 8 wheeled tender no 5223. Apple Green livery. L & N E R on tender
  • 24 Feb 1923 - Entered traffic and allocated to Doncaster loco depot
  • Feb. 1924 - New numbering scheme introduced by LNER. Loco renumbered to 4472. L. N. E. R. on tender Named FLYING SCOTSMAN in readiness for display at British Empire Exhibition at Wembley April to Nov 1924.
  • Feb to April 1928 - General repair at Doncaster. Long travel valves fitted. Coupled to Corridor tender 5323 and new boiler No 7878 fitted allocated to Kings +
  • 1 May 1928 - Hauled the first non-stop run of the FLYING SCOTSMAN train 8hrs 3mins 392 miles. Kings Cross-Edinburgh
  • April 1929 - Co-starred in the first sound feature film “THE FLYING SCOTSMAN”
  • 30 Nov 1934 - High speed test run Kings Cross- Leeds attained 100 mph for 600 yards. First ever authenticated steam loco to reach this speed. Loco had completed 653,000 miles since entering service.
  • 6 Mch 1939 - Re- allocated to Doncaster, to stay there for the next five years.
  • April 1943 - Painted into Black livery.
  • April 1945 - Reclassified to A10
  • 20 Jan 1946 - Running number changed to 502
  • 5 May 1946 - Running number changed to 103
  • Jan 1947 - Emerged from Doncaster works after general repair Re- classified to A3 new boiler 220lb/ repainted in L. N. E. R. Green livery
  • March 1948 - Running number changed to E103
  • Dec 1948 - Running number changed to 60103
  • Dec 1949 - Received B.R. Blue livery during general repair at Doncaster
  • March 1952 - Received B.R. Green livery during general repair at Doncaster
  • March 1954 - Converted to left hand drive
  • Jan 1959 - Kylchap blast pipe & double chimney installed (cost £153)
  • Dec 1961 - Trough smoke deflectors fitted
  • 14 Jan 1963 - Withdrawn from service after covering 2 million miles
  • March 1963 - Overhaul at Doncaster. Double chimney, smoke deflectors removed. Single chimney, LNER Green livery with red back nameplates & running number 4472 restored. Corridor tender (5325) from 60034 attached
  • 16 Apl 1963 - Bought by Alan Pegler for £3000.
  • Nov 1963 to March 1964 - Heavy overhaul at Darlington cylinder casings painted green
  • October 1966 - Visit to Doncaster works & second corridor tender purchased for £1000. (ex 60009) Cost £5000 for conversion
  • 1May 1968 - Celebrated 40th Anniversary on first non stop run with a run of the same
  • Nov 1968 to Feb 1969 - Overhaul at Hunslet Works. Boiler retubed in preparation for trip to USA American bell & whistle fitted.
  • 19Sep 1969 - Shipped, Liverpool to Boston. USA. Cowcatcher and buckeye fitted en route
  • Oct 1969 - Start of first North American tour.
  • June 1970 - Start of second Nth American tour. Total distance run in USA 15,400miles
  • Aug 1972-January1973 - Stored at Sharpe Army Base, Sacramento. Purchased by William McAlpine. Shipped to Liverpool. Feb 1973
  • Feb-July1973 - Light overhaul at Derby. Cylinder casings returned to black along with a return to black backed nameplates
  • Aug 1975 - Appeared at Stockton & Darlington 150 Anniversary
  • Dec 1977 - Overhaul at Vickers shipyard Barrow. Completed June 1978
  • March June 1980 - Appeared at Rocket 150 to celebrate the Anniversary Liverpool & Manchester Railway
  • 20 June 1984 - Hauled the Royal Train with HM The Queen Mother from Stratford to Woolwich with customary white cab roof
  • Mch-Dec 85 - Seven year main line overhaul carried out at Carnforth
  • 12Sep 1988 - Shipped from Tilbury to Sydney, insured for £1million
  • 25Oct 1988 - First public run in Australia
  • Nov 1988 to Nov 1989 - Travelled all over Australia. AUGUST 8 1989 broke world non-stop run by steam, 422 miles in 9 hrs 25mins. 20,000miles travelled in Australia
  • Nov–Dec 89 - Sydney to Tilbury via N. Zealand 1st known loco to circumnavigate world
  • 25Oct 1992 - Last main line run before 7 year boiler cert expires. Begins a tour of nine preserved railways.


  • April- July 1993 - New smokebox, boiler retubed double chimney and smoke deflectors fitted. Outshopped in B.R. Green livery, renumbered to 60103
  • 21 Sep 1993 - Waterman & Flying Scotsman Enterprises merge thus making Bill McAlpine & Pete Waterman joint owners of 4472
  • 28 Apl 1995 - Withdrawn due to cracked firebox. Covered 30,000miles since 1992
  • 23 Feb 1996 - Purchased by Dr.Tony Marchington £1,300,000
  • 3 May 1996 - Start of Rolls Royce restoration. Double chimney, trough deflectors and a return to L. N. E. R. livery
  • 4 July 1999 - First run after restoration Kings Cross-York.
  • 3 Dec 2001 - Flying Scotsman P. L. C. Public share offered announced
  • 16 Feb 2004 - Flying Scotsman up for sale by sealed bid process
  • 5 April 2004 - Flying Scotsman purchased, on behalf on the nation, by the N.R.M. cost £2.310 million incl spare boiler, support coach and spares.
  • 29May 2004 - Flying Scotsman arrives at the N.R.M., parades to the waiting public at Railfest 2004. On display all 9 days of Railfest most popular exhibit.
  • 20 Jul 2004 - First day of Scarborough Spa Express, excursions to Scarborough
  • 31Aug 2004 - Last day of Scarborough Spa Express, great success.
  • Oct 2004 - 4472 present for official opening of Locomotion at Shildon
  • Nov 2004 - Begins overhaul in N.R.M. workshops
  • 28 May 2005 - Celebrating the first year’s ownership of Flying Scotsman by the NRM
  • 31May 2005 - First day of “Ride the Legend” special trains to Scarborough
  • As running at end of 2005 - 4472 Weight loco 96tons 5 cwt. Tender corridor 62tons 8cwt Length 70ft. Boiler pressure 220lbs per sq in Driving wheels 6ft. 8in.

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