Fringe Box



Did You Get To See The Flying Scotsman?

Published on: 25 May, 2016
Updated on: 26 May, 2016

By David Rose

You can always bet that telling people a steam locomotive is coming through on the main line will excite train buffs and lovers of nostalgia alike.

Flying Scotsman at Worplesdon on May 25. Picture by Geoff Burch. Click to enlarge in a new window.

Flying Scotsman at Worplesdon on May 25. Picture by Geoff Burch. Click on all pictures to enlarge in a new window.

And when it is probably the most famous and favourite British steam engine of all time and one that has recently been all over the media following its £4.2 million overhaul, the excitement increases.

We are talking about A3 Pacific class, number 60103, Flying Scotsman. It is now out and about on the main line hauling special excursions and today (May 25) has been passing through Guildford, twice.

This grand old lady of steam, built for the London & North Eastern Railway in 1923 at Crewe, and designed by Nigel Gresley (his knighthood came later), came through Guildford not long after 1pm on its circular route from London Victoria, through Surrey and back into the capital.

For those in the know, timings for steam train tours can easily be found on dedicated websites. However, at present times of when a train hauled by Flying Scotsman passes through stations and makes stops (for water at Shalford for example) are being witheld.

This is because, as on other runs previously, although many people have gone to see it (which is great), there have been incidents of people trespassing on to railway property, camera in handing, hoping to get an even better picture than watching from behind a fence or looking over a bridge.

Flying Scotsman steams into Guildford. Picture courtesy and copyright of Mike Bennett.

Flying Scotsman steams into Guildford. Picture courtesy of and copyright of Mike Bennett.

Not surprisingly, social media has today been full of leaked times, or estimated ones. And hopefully all those who went out to watch it today behaved themselves and did not tresspass!

Again, according to local media it was due back through Guildford at about 9.40pm.

But why such interest in steam engines – a method of pulling a train that was phased out in the UK nearly 50 years ago?

Flying Scotsman stops at Shalford to take on water. Picture courtesy and copyright of Mike Bennett

Flying Scotsman stops at Shalford to take on water. Picture courtesy of and copyright of Mike Bennett.

Nostalgia has to be high on the list, and the fact that a steam engine, belching out smoke and steam and making a glorious racket, has been likened to living thing. And in the case of Flying Scotman, a story that has had many ups and downs.

Here are some facts from the website of Steam Dreams one of the businesses that has been chartering Flying Scotsman:

“The locomotive set two world records for steam traction, becoming the first steam locomotive to be officially authenticated at reaching 100 miles per hour (160.9 km/h) on November 30, 1934, and then setting a record for the longest non-stop run by a steam locomotive when it ran 422 miles (679 km) on August 8, 1989 while in Australia.

“Retired from regular service in 1963 after covering 2,076,000 miles (3,341,000 km), Flying Scotsman gained considerable fame in preservation under the ownership of Alan Pegler, William McAlpine, Tony Marchington and finally the National Railway Museum (NRM). As well as hauling enthusiast specials in the United Kingdom, the locomotive toured extensively in the United States and Canada (from 1969 to 1973) and Australia (from 1988 to 1989).”

Close-up of the nameplate. Picture courtesy and copyright of Mike Bennett.

Close-up of the nameplate. Picture courtesyof  and copyright of Mike Bennett.

Tickets for a ride behind Flying Scotsman today (May 25) were quickly snapped up (both trips) and are also sold out when it returns next Wednesday (June 1).

However, I didn’t get to see it this afternoon (exam invigilating duties at George Abbot School prevented that), but I have to say it’s not my favourite steam loco. Give me a Southern Railway Bulleid Pacific any day, or a Castle class from ‘God’s Wonderful Railway’ – the GWR. I even prefer the one preserved 02 tank engine that can be seen on the Isle of Wight Railway.

Engulfied in steam at Shalford. Picture courtesy of and copyright of Mike Bennett.

Engulfied in steam at Shalford. Picture courtesy of and copyright of Mike Bennett.

I have only seen Flying Scotsman on one occasion in motion for real. If my memory serves me right it was on July 30, 1966. Does that date ring a bell? It was the day of the final of the 1966 World Cup when England beat West Germany 4-2.

On the day I saw Flying Scotsman it was on a rail tour and in the evening went through Woking. My dad took me to see it.

So if you didn’t get to see Flying Scotman in the Guildford area on May 25 or miss it on June 1, there’s the next best thing this Friday, May 28.

Another steam special is coming. This time hauled by A1 Peppercorn class, number 60163, Tornado. It’s timed to arrive at Guildford station at 2.13pm.

It’s not so old as Flying Scotsman, but all steam fans know that!

Please leave a reply in the box below if you have any comments about seeing, or not seeing Flying Scotsman.

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Responses to Did You Get To See The Flying Scotsman?

  1. John Lomas Reply

    May 25, 2016 at 10:46 pm

    You mention the Bulleid Pacifics, in their original clothing of course, not the rebuilts. But my favourite of his locos has to be the Q1, so ugly it is beautiful.

    Incidently does anyone have a photo of a Guildford pilot engine called something like Ironsides? What class was it?

    David Rose replies: Here is a link that shows a picture of ‘Ironside’ at Guildford loco shed.

    The caption reads: LSWR 0-4-0ST – 3458 IRONSIDE – built 07/1890 by Hawthorn Leslie as LSWR IRONSIDE – 1901 to LSWR No.458, 09/13 to LSWR No.0458, 11/31 to SR No.3458 – withdrawn 09/54 from 70C Guildford as BR No.30458 – Guildford Shed Pilot.

    It seems everything you want to know can be found on the internet!

    • John Lomas Reply

      May 26, 2016 at 11:07 pm

      David. Thanks for the link to Ironside.

  2. Norman Hamshere Reply

    May 26, 2016 at 9:14 am

    David, Did you slip this in just to see if us old spotters were paying attention? Flying Scotsman was of course built at Doncaster.

    [David replies: No, that’s my mistake. Whoops! But well spotted and thanks for the reply.]

    • John Lomas Reply

      May 26, 2016 at 9:34 pm

      The recent rebuild was in Bury only about 10 miles from were I’m now living.

      I saw the engine when it was doing it’s first mainline test runs in matt black and carrying two different numbers:
      60103 on the smoke box with 103 on the left hand cab side and 502 on the right hand cab side. The tender had plain N E lettering in gold.

  3. Mike Melbourne Reply

    May 26, 2016 at 3:54 pm

    It was good to the old girl return to the Surrey Hills circuit again (nice picture Geoff).

    At least Steam Dreams had prices to suit all classes including Pullman.

    I spent most of the day chasing her around the London area for the first trip.

    More police than general public, a lot different to Hampshire last week.

    Later it was very calm at Shalford and Chilworth for the evening trip. One young lad had his dressing gown on.

    I hope people are sensible next week with half term coming up.

  4. Richard Terrell Reply

    May 26, 2016 at 5:16 pm

    Thank you for such an interesting article and up to date news. If I could have got there to see it, I would.

    Those days of steam were great, and though I appreciate there are concerns in respect of safety, many lads at the time were more than experienced in bunking into the steam sheds, so I suppose getting near at a water feed like Shalford is difficult not to attempt.

    However, taking train numbers was less distracting in terms of safety, than taking photos with the numerous cameras in action today, and everyone to needs to remember the live rail too, so I would say get a good lens and shoot from a safe distance.

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