We look back at the Flying Scotsman’s marvelled past, including Tim Littler’s first journey using the locomotive, as it returns to operation once again this week.
For many reasons, 2016 will be a nostalgic year for Golden Eagle’s President and Founder, Tim Littler. Not only does it mark the 100th anniversary of the Trans-Siberian Railway, but the Flying Scotsman will be making its first run in over 40 years after an extensive restoration.
Having a passion for trains from a young age, Tim and his friends would often go and visit Altrincham Railway Station, enjoying the procession of steam-hauled Express trains that passed through on journeys from London and the South, during the electrification of the Euston-Manchester main line.
Shortly after operating his first successful rail tour in 1966, Tim followed this up with tours from Kings Cross to Newcastle and St Pancras to Altrincham, both of which included use of the Flying Scotsman locomotive.
On Thursday 25th February, the Flying Scotsman will return to operation once more on its inaugural run between London Kings Cross and York. It has been given a complete overhaul, with £4.2 million spent during a decade of restoration. First built in Doncaster in 1923 for use on the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER), the locomotive is 70 feet in length, weighs 174 tonnes and can carry eight tonnes of coal and 5000 gallons of water.
The Flying Scotsman achieved many accolades during its years of activity; until the late 1930’s, it sometimes hauled the world’s longest non-stop rail service of the same name and in 1934 broke the world speed record by travelling over 100mph on a train from Leeds to London.
Upon retirement by British Rail in 1963, the locomotive had covered around two million miles. It was immediately bought for preservation, covering close to 500,000 miles more, visiting the likes of Australia and the USA.
The original design of the Flying Scotsman was produced by Sir Nigel Gresley. It was primarily painted Apple Green, in keeping with the other LNER passenger trains. This changed to black during the Second World War and once the war ended, it was painted Brunswick Green before changing to Apple Green in preservation.
The train returned to public ownership in 2004, when it was bought by the National Railway Museum (NRM), and its purchase was contributed to by Sir Richard Branson, along with avid public fundraising and a grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund. It has been through a long and thorough restoration; eight years by the NRM and two years by the Bury-firm, Riley & Son, who will continue to manage its operation for the next two years.
Crowds of train enthusiasts flocked to Bury’s Bolton Street Station to witness the locomotive’s return to the tracks for its first public outing, in early January, as it conducted test runs in preparation for its inaugural journey from London King’s Cross this Thursday. The snowy scenes made for perfect photograph opportunities, pleasing the thousands of visitors, many who had travelled the length of the country to see the return of the world’s most famous locomotive.
In May, the locomotive will travel the length and breadth of the UK, hauling some 13 excursions, which will doubtless draw huge crowds. In between trips, it will return to the NRM for public display.