Despite the name, The Flying Scotsman has nothing to do with Scottish people flying around. It’s actually the name of a passenger steam engine, one of the most famous in the world too and it’s right here in the UK. As a steam engine, it represents the industrial days and celebrates the innovation of train engineering.
The service of this train dates back to the 1920’s, when it was built in Doncaster, in the north of England. It runs on the North-East coast line to connect two of the capital cities in the UK, London and Edinburgh and it takes a whopping 8 ½ hours to complete the entire journey.
One of the most famous events that took place in the UK in the 1920’s was the British Empire Exhibition. The British Empire was falling around the world and British industry leaders wanted to promote trade from Britain to former empire countries. So, a huge stadium was built (now known as Wembley stadium, famous for its football) where industries could show off their latest inventions and The Flying Scotsman took centre stage for the rail industry. It gained a lot of interest from the British people not only for its innovation but also for its name.
The Flying Scotsman carried out its journey between Edinburgh and London for around 40 years but by the time it got to the 1960s steam engines were going out of fashion and new, modern trains (that didn’t run on steam) were dominating the industry. Following the nationalisation of rail networks in the 1960s, The Flying Scotsman was bought privately, temporarily retired from service and huge improvements and renovations were made. The train returned to the rails once again in 1963, which included a rather unsuccessful tour in the US and it also travelled all the way to Australia.
The Flying Scotsman was passed on and bought by various owners in the 1990s and early 2000s but most owners ended up in bankruptcy, so much so that there was a fear it would be bought by foreign investors. However, the British people recognised The Flying Scotsman as a symbol of former Britain and the National Railway Museum in York helped keep it here in the UK by pushing for a fund to renovate it. The steam engine then became one of the prime exhibitions at The National Railway Museum.
Following a huge restoration project for around £2.4 million it now does novelty rides around the country. Just last week, we were lucky enough to spot it travelling around the South of England through my home city of Winchester.