The locomotive was completed in 1923, construction having been started under the auspices of the Great Northern Railway (GNR). It was built as an A1, initially carrying the GNR number 1472, because the LNER had not yet decided on a system-wide numbering scheme.
Flying Scotsman was something of a flagship locomotive for the LNER. It represented the company at the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley Park in 1924 and 1925. Before this event, in February 1924 it acquired its name and the new number of 4472. From then on it was commonly used for promotional purposes.
With suitably modified valve gear, this locomotive was one of five Gresley Pacifics selected to haul the prestigious non-stop Flying Scotsman train service from London to Edinburgh, hauling the inaugural train on 1 May 1928. For this, the locomotives ran with a new version of the large eight-wheel tender which held nine long tons of coal. This and the usual facility for water replenishment from the water trough system enabled them to travel the 392 miles (631 km) from London to Edinburgh in eight hours non-stop.
The tender included a corridor connection and tunnel through the water tank giving access to the locomotive cab from the train so that the driver and fireman could be changed without stopping the train. The following year the locomotive appeared in the film The Flying Scotsman.
While the Great Western Railway locomotive City of Truro had previously been unofficially timed at running in excess of 100 mph (160.9 km/h), 4472 became the first steam locomotive to be officially authenticated at this speed on 30 November 1934, driven by Bill Sparshatt and running a light test train. It earned a place in the land speed record for railed vehicles; the publicity-conscious LNER made much of the fact.
The locomotive ran with its corridor tender between April 1928 and October 1936, after which it reverted to the original type; in July 1938 it was paired with a streamlined non-corridor tender, and ran with this type until withdrawal. On 22 August 1928 an improved version of this Pacific type, classified A3, appeared; older A1 locomotives were later rebuilt to conform. On 25 April 1945, A1-class locomotives not yet rebuilt were reclassified A10 to make way for newer Thompson and Peppercorn Pacifics. Flying Scotsman emerged from Doncaster Works on 4 January 1947 as an A3, having received a boiler with the long “banjo” dome of the type it carries today. By this time it had been renumbered twice: under Edward Thompson’s comprehensive renumbering scheme for the LNER, it became No. 502 in January 1946; in May the same year, under an amendment to that plan, it became No. 103. Following nationalisation of the railways on 1 January 1948, almost all of the LNER locomotive numbers were increased by 60000; No. 103 became 60103 in December 1948.
Between 5 June 1950 and 4 July 1954, and between 26 December 1954 and 1 September 1957, under British Railways ownership, it was allocated to Leicester Central shed on the Great Central Railway, running Nottingham Victoria to London Marylebone services via Leicester Central.
All A3 Pacifics were subsequently fitted with a double Kylchap chimney to improve performance and economy. This caused soft exhaust and smoke drift that tended to obscure the driver’s forward vision; the remedy was found in the German-type smoke deflectors fitted from 1960, which somewhat changed the locomotives’ appearance.
|Operators||London and North Eastern Railway, British Railways|
|Official name||Flying Scotsman|
|Retired||15 January 1963|
|Restored||1968, 1996, 2016|
|Current owner||National Railway Museum|
Further information at Wikipedia