The Flying Scotsman began life as No 1472, an A1 Pacific-class locomotive. The Pacific class had a 2-6-2 arrangement of wheels, which enabled it to carry a bigger boiler, making it suitable for long-distance passenger services. Under ownership of the London and North Eastern Railway Company (LNER) it was renumbered the 4472 and christened the Flying Scotsman.
When it broke down and was taken out of regular service it was the ideal candidate for putting on show at the British Empire Exhibition in 1924 and 1925. It was an immediate hit with the public, and its fame was sealed when in 1928 it launched the regular 10am non-stop Flying Scotsman Express Service from King’s Cross, London, to Waverley, Edinburgh.
To cope with the 631km (392-mile) route the locomotive pulled a special eight-wheel tender that carried great quantities of water and coal. Since the crew had to be replaced during the eight-hour journey without stopping, a special corridor was built in the tender to allow the relief crew to pass between the train and the cab.
The Flying Scotsman became even more famous on 30 November 1934, when it travelled at 160.9km/h (100mph) breaking the world speed record.
In January 1947, the Flying Scotsman was converted to the A3 class that incorporated a larger boiler with a higher boiler pressure and, a year later, it was re-designated as the No 60103 under the ownership of British Rail. In 1963, it was sold off and went through several owners before being rescued by the National Railway Museum, York, in May 2004.
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Sir Nigel Gresley and the LNER
Herbert Nigel Gresley (19 June 1876-5 April 1941) served his apprenticeship at Crewe Locomotive Works. His leadership and engineering skills led him to become the chief mechanical engineer of the London and North Eastern Railway Company (LNER) based in Doncaster.
He designed the A1, and upgraded them to the A3 class. In 1935, he introduced the A4 class that included the Mallard, which gained the world speed record by travelling at 202.7km/h (126mph) in 1938. He also worked on steering gear for ships and, in total, designed 27 classes of steam locomotive.
Gresley was always eager to test new innovations and incorporate the best ideas from Europe and America into his designs. In 1936 he was knighted by King Edward VIII in recognition of his industry.
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Flying Scotsman train facts
Price tag – The Flying Scotsman originally cost £7,944 to build. Including the purchase price and restoration work the National Railway Museum has spent £4 million on it since 2004.
Longest record – The Scotsman was taken to Australia in 1989 where it set a new record for the longest non-stop steam locomotive journey of 711km (442 miles) from Parkes to Broken Hill.
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Long distance – The Flying Scotsman passenger locomotive had travelled an impressive 3,340,998.14km (2,076,000 miles) when it was sold by British Rail in 1963.
A sound start – The locomotive starred in The Flying Scotsman feature film. Released in March 1930 it was one of Britain’s first films to include a ‘talkie’ soundtrack.