Steam Corner 13

60103 Flying Scotsman - Profile of a Historic Locomotive

A Production for Ryan Productions by B.L.Cann

Our thanks go to Mr. I. Fyvie, The Watercress Line, Mr. T. Knowles, Mr.S. Smalley, The North Norfolk Rly., Severn Valley Rly., and countless others for their assistance in this production.


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A railway legend in it's own lifetime, Flying Scotsman is known to the majority as 4472.  Even though this fine example of Sir Nigel Gresley's design is familiar to many people, it's full history is not.  Hopefully, I have accrued sufficient information to relate a true history of this prestigious locomotive for it to be of interest to all.

Built for the London and North Eastern Railway at Doncaster in 1923 on the 7th. February, 60103 started it's service as an A1 class on the 24th of the same month, number 1564.  The loco. appeared at the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley during 1924/5, bearing the famous number 4472 from the2nd. March, 1924.  It underwent significant changes in 1942 to emerge from the works as a member of the A3 class, still under the ownership of the L.N.E.R. in a more basic guise of how it appears today, without the double chimney, or the "German" style smoke deflectors (which were fitted to other members of the class).  Flying Scotsman was run in three different liveries during her service life; the all too familiar L.N.E.R. Apple Green; an experimental dark Blue for a short while, and the final Brunswick Green of the newly formed British Railways (during which time, the loco was re-fitted, modified for economy with double chimney, and the "German" smoke deflectors).

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A unique aspect of loco. design on the L.N.E.R. was that of the walk through tender allowing for crew changing without the need to stop.  One of these was added in 1928 for the non-stop service from Kings Cross to Edinburgh on the 1st.May, an invaluable bonus concerning high speed expresses between London and Scotland.  These tenders were re-allocated for the A4 streamliners later, for ease of operations.

1934 saw "Flying Scotsman" authenticate the 100 mph. barrier;  but this wasn't the only milestone that the loco would reach in it's time, but not in B.R. or L.N.E.R. ownership.  A high pressure boiler was fitted on 4th. Jan., 1947, followed by a Kylchap double blast-pipe and double chimney.

Although to most people, Flying Scotsman is considered to be a preserved engine, she is in truth privately owned, and has been so since being taken under the wing of Alan Peglar;   the first owner of many since the demise of steam in the 66-68 period.

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Mr. Peglar arranged a "visit" to America for 60103, to promote Anglo-American relationships, between 1969 and 1973.  This venture required a secondary tender to be modified, for water supplies in the US are few and far between.  The loco nearly didn't return to England, but here I can include an account of part of it's visit in the words of a friend.

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I was very fortunate to have met Alan Pegler (I think it was) and have a wonderful memory of his comments to me from the cab of 4472 while in Alabama.  On this trip the 4472 was hop-scotching with our Savannah and Atlanta Pacific #750, and met up with Southern Ry. Mike 4501 in Anniston, Ala.   There, Southern Ry. then-President Graham Claytor gave a nice speech, and all engines gave whistle salutes.  Engine 750 returned to Atlanta with her train and 4501/ 4472 went on to Birmingham arriving at dusk.  Somewhere between Anniston and Birmingham, the entire Scot train passed through a closed trailing point switch, which required repair afterwards.  Apparently no damage was done to the wheels of the train.  I have an 8mm movie of a Southern official carefully watching each wheel pass off the closed points as it was already in progress when he noticed it .... no one on the train was aware of anything amiss.

This was a once in a lifetime chance to see British steam and (hopefully) authentic cars in tow that I could not miss.  I am glad that I did not.  What a beautiful train, and the wonder of "waltz-time" exhaust was new to me.  4472 was allowed to stretch her legs a bit, too, (though way short of her ability) to about 70 mph which I caught on tape.  Chuffing from about 30 mph the beat of the exhaust was mesmerizing.  Three cylinder steam was rare in the US.

I am thankful this came to pass here in the US, now I have a special fondness for the Scot.  I was unaware and stunned to hear of any fear for her demise in the States.  Was this a real concern or possibility?  I find it hard to believe that it could have even been thought of.

...... There's someinteresting footage for you. Another is .   Enjoy!!

You Brits are so fortunate to have the extent of steam operations you have, and I salute the forces that make it happen.  Likewise, the restorations as I see them are breath-taking.  I found it interesting that there were some movements involving "down and dirty" railroading, with grunge on the engines, chalked numbers, and so forth for late-steam authenticity.  That's the way I remember steam in the US for the most part, though there were some exceptions such as the N&W streamlined passenger engines which were kept washed till the end (1960).  It seems the tradition for dirty running carries on to Diesel days here.

I would soft-pedal the speed that I caught 4472 running at.  She was ruled limited to 45 MPH according to my sources, so a "burst" to 60 or so sounds much more responsible and may actually be more accurate since we are talking an estimate here.  Where this happened was a wide open, long tangent with nograde crossings on first-class mainline heavy rail.  I am certain that there were Southern Railway officials in the cab, and a little rule-bending was temporarily authorised.  I have clocked the old Southern Mikado 4501 (1915) at a very brisk 60 MPH (for a 63" drivered "goods" engine) so know the Southern wasn't afraid to run.  I suspect the 4472 was just getting wound up real good when they shut her down.

I don't understand the apparently arbitrary 45 MPH limit set for The Scot's tour of the US, except maybe to protect her antiquity and avoid potential lawsuits.  This was happening at a time in the US when there was a lot ofmain line steam running, and can personally attest to the NKP Berk 759 galloping across northern Indiana in excess of 90.  This from a freighter with 69" drivers.  Also of note for speed was Ex-Reading 2102 on the Grand Trunk Western running "over seventy" with regularity up to about 1973.  On that same railroad I have ridden behind Dick Jenson's GTW Pacific 5629 (now scrapped ... a shameful story) and clocked her at a comfortable 51 seconds per mile.  I have a recording of Canadian National 6218 dashing back to Toronto in 1969 at dusk in the rain that analysis shows she was way over the limit!

I have no experience with what speeds are run out in the American west with the likes of UP 844, but can imagine that they are no slouches, even today.  Those were the days, my friend! 4472 was capable of so much more.....

Tom Knowles

Many thanks for your observations, Tom.  I hope that this article is of use to you, and leads to a better comprehension of what could be described as British Engineering history personified.

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4472's chequered history doesn't stop there, though.  1988/9 saw her "abroad" again - and coming home with another record !  An Australian non-stop run of 422 miles on 8th.Aug., 1989, with the distance covered in 9 hours, 25 minutes, proving that at 66 years vintage, this lady still holds a surprise or two!

RIYAN Productions