Friday, 23 November 2007

Cautionary Tale No. 4472 [Part IV]

While the previous part of this tale was clearly painful, not everything associated with the Flying Scotsman has required me to visit a hospital! About five months after the last part of the tale I saw the engine in steam for the first time.

The Cumbrian Mountain Express ran from Carnforth (I think) to Hellifield in the Yorkshire Dales. I assume they rotated through the engines stored at Steamtown as almost every time we went to Hellifield we saw a different steam engine pulling the train. On the 25th of February 1984 the Cumbrian Mountain Express was being pulled by the Flying Scotsman. This time my Dad had a bit more room for taking a photo and so you finally get to see what the Flying Scotsman looks like in real life rather than relying on the Hornby model. Having seen the Flying Scotsman twice in close succession it would be a further 20 years before I would see it again.

In 2004, Flying Scotsman was put up for sale. At this time there was a real worry that it might be sold abroad and the National Railway Museum in York started an appeal to raise money to buy the engine. Unfortunately at the time I was still a penniless student and was unable to donate anything. Fortunately though the country rallied around and combined with a significant donation from Richard Branson, 4472 was purchased for the nation.

During the summer of 2004, Flying Scotsman ran regularly from York to Scarborough pulling the Scarborough Spa Express train. The last run of the summer was scheduled for the 31st of August and given how close that is to my birthday I was treated to tickets so that I could finally experience being on a train pulled by the Flying Scotsman. We had bought the more expensive tickets so we ate lunch on the train, had a nice walk around Scarborough and then the return trip to York. It was all over far too quickly but I wouldn't have changed any of it.

You might have noticed that the photo from York in 2004 shows changes to the engine -- specifically the smoke deflectors attached to the front sides of the boiler. Personally I prefer the engine without these smoke deflectors and for accuracy given the apple green LNER livery it shouldn't have them as they were a 1960's addition when it was painted in the dark green livery of British Rail. For those who prefer this configuration though Hornby have produced a new model depicting the Flying Scotsman as it currently is.

Flying Scotsman is not currently running as it is undergoing a full maintenance and service at York before being re-certified for use on the mainline network. Hopefully this should be finished sometime in 2008, and Flying Scotsman will once again be seen belching steam over the Yorkshire countryside. If you can't wait that long though have a look at this short movie which I borrowed from the National Railway Museum's Flying Scotsman website.

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