Ask anyone to name a famous locomotive and you can be almost guaranteed that the words 'Flying Scotsman' will immediately roll off the tongue. Designed by the famous engineer, Sir Herbert Nigel Gresley, the A1 class 'Gresley Pacifics' were intended for long distance express services. Although No. 1472 was the third of the A1's to be built during the ownership of the Great Northern Railway (GNR), she was the first new locomotive built for the newly formed London North Eastern Railway (LNER). This great locomotive was ready for her first public appearance on 22nd February 1923, and had cost £7944.
In 1924 the locomotives of LNER were renumbered - the renowned '4472' was given to her - and she was subsequently moved to London for the British Empire Exhibition. So successful was the exhibition that she also made an appearance in 1925. The 'Flying Scotsman' locomotive was named, unusually, after the famous train (in railway terminology 'the train' refers to the service - in this particular instance the 10.00 am from London Kings Cross to Edinburgh Waverley).
On 1st May 1928 she made her first historical landmark. Fitted with a specially designed corridor tender, allowing the crew to change in mid journey, the Flying Scotsman completed the first non-stop long distance journey from London Kings Cross to Edinburgh Waverley - some 392 miles in just over eight hours. On 30th November 1934 she again made history when she achieved the first authenticated 100mph for steam traction, whilst travelling between Leeds and London. Between these high points of her service, the Flying Scotsman continued her normal duties and was eventually upgraded to A3 class, although the prestigious express routes were gradually being taken over by Gresley's new A4 class locomotives.
In 1948 the four regional rail companies were nationalised to become British Rail and the Flying Scotsman was renumbered once again to '60103'. She continued in full service until 1963 when she was finally withdrawn having completed some 2,076,000 miles.
Rescued from the scrapyard, she was purchased by enthusiast, Alan Peglar on 16th April 1963 who continued to run her in main line service for short excursions. By 1969 the Flying Scotsman was the only steam train now running on the main line, and it was becoming increasingly difficult to maintain a regular schedule as the infrastructure for steam services was disappearing fast. In September of the same year, she was shipped to Boston, following an offer to embark on a North American tour. This proved disastrous for both the locomotive and her owner, as a change in the UK political climate resulted in many of the tours' sponsors pulling out, leaving her owner broke and the Flying Scotsman stranded at a US army base.
Her saviour came in the form of Sir William MacAlpine who, in February 1973, purchased her and arranged her safe return to England. Continuing to offer main line excursions, the Flying Scotsman also concentrated on touring the local preserved railways, where she was always guaranteed to be a crowd puller. In 1988 she embarked on a highly successful Australian tour, completing a world record non-stop run by steam of 422 miles. She was withdrawn from service for a second time on 28th April 1995 having suffered a cracked firebox.
On 23rd February 1996 Flying Scotsman was purchased by Dr Tony Marchington who proceeded to finance a major restoration, and on 4th July 1999 the beautifully restored Flying Scotsman made her inaugural run from Kings Cross to York. In early 2004 things were to change again when Flying Scotsman Plc., unable to secure an opportunity for a visitor centre in Edinburgh, put the locomotive up for sale. Fearing an overseas sale, a campaign was launched to save The Flying Scotsman for the nation. Donations poured in from young and old alike and, along with financial help from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Sir Richard Branson's 'Virgin' Group, the Flying Scotsman finally arrived at her new home at the National Railway Museum on 29th May 2004. Once again in public ownership after 41 years in private hands.