of LNER A3 Class Pacific
4472 'Flying Scotsman'
Nigel (later Sir Nigel) Gresley originally developed the Pacific Class
A1 as a mainline express locomotive at the very end of the lifetime of
the UK's Great Northern Railway (GNR). Gresley had successfully
introduced new locomotive designs as Chief Mechanical Engineer of the
GNR featuring three-cylinder configuration with 2:1 conjugated valve
gear on the inside cylinder. Harold
Holcroft chief draftsman of the South Eastern & Chatham Railway had
helped Gresley with this project and for that reason the conjugated gear
is often called Gresley / Holcroft conjugated valve gear.
The earlier GNR 3 cylinder locomotives were 2-6-0 and 2-8-0 tender
designs for freight and mixed traffic work. As experienced was gained
with these locomotives, Gresley moved towards the possibility of doing
something even bigger and better with three cylinders to handle the
increasing express passenger loads on the Great Northern route from
London to York.
The idea of a new Pacific class is reputed to owe much to Gresley's
admiration for the design of the Pennsylvania Railroad Class `K4s'
(another popular Aster model from the 1980's). Although the 'K4s' was a
two-cylinder express Pacific design with a Belpaire firebox, Gresley
found much of interest in the layout and proportions of this classic
American design. The Pacific wheel configuration had been tried already
in express design in the UK with the GWR's - 'The Great Bear' but
Gresley was looking for something altogether more advanced than this
And so the famous Class A1 was born. The first in the new series was No.
1470 'Great Northern' of 1922. This was followed one year later, when
the GNR had become part of the London & North Eastern Railway (LNER)
by what has surely become one the World's most famous steam locomotive -
No. 4472 'Flying Scotsman'. The popularity of 'Flying Scotsman' was
sealed when it was displayed at the British Empire Exhibition in 1924
and 1925. The large locomotive in its attractive LNER apple green livery
was an immediate success with the public
More than 70 examples were added to the A1 class in the 1920's and into
the early 30's. Many but not all were named after winners of classic
English horse races although not 'Flying Scotsman'.
Gresley's appetite for improving his designs by careful experimentation
led to the modification of the Class A1. These improved locomotives,
with higher boiler pressure and altered valve arrangements, were
classified - LNER Class A3. Over the years all the Class A1 were rebuilt
to the improved A3 specification. Further development of Class A3 led to
the famous streamlined A4, the subject of a very successful Aster design
dating from 1984.
The name 'Flying Scotsman' can sometimes lead to confusion. Is it a
locomotive or is it a train? Well actually it is both! The year 1928 saw
the inception of a new non-stop express passenger service between London
(Kings Cross) and Edinburgh (Waverley) a distance of nearly 400 miles. T
his new service was called 'The Flying Scotsman'. It comes as no
surprise that locomotive No. 4472 - 'Flying Scotsman' was chosen to
launch the service in May of that year.
permit a locomotive to run this long distance without a stop would require
a change of crew whilst on the move. So Nigel Gresley conceived a tender
with a corridor running down the right hand side. Crews could now change
half way between the two capital Cities, a great innovation. Ten of these
corridor tenders were built for the service and fitted to the Class A1 and
subsequently to the A3's.
The popularity and fame of 'Flying Scotsman' was further enhanced when in
1934, hauling a dynamometer car; it became the first steam locomotive to
record a fully authenticated speed of 100 miles per hour.
'Flying Scotsman' continued to give excellent service for the LNER in its
splendid livery of apple green with black, white and red lining until 1948
when the new nationalized 'British Railways' was formed. Apple green was
changed first for dark blue and then dark green and the famous number -
4472 became ultimately 60103.
As steam traction on Britain's railways came to an end in the early
1960's, much enthusiasm was generated among steam devotees to save many of
famous locomotives from the scrap yard. Over 70 similar locomotives of
Class A3 were actually scrapped, leaving Flying Scotsman as the sole
survivor of its class.
covered more than two million miles, 'Flying Scotsman' was sold in 1963 to
a private investor - Alan Pegler for ￡3000. The new owner changed
the livery back to LNER green and the number 4472 was restored. A second
tender was purchased to carry extra water since the track built troughs
formerly used for water pickup at speed were falling into disrepair.
Pegler was granted permission to run 'Flying Scotsman' on Britain's
railway for special excursion for steam enthusiasts until regular steam
operations had finished in Britain in 1968. Many new fans got to know
'Flying Scotsman' during these first important years in preservation.
Before Pegler's contract with British Railways had ended, he hit upon the
idea of taking 'Flying Scotsman' to the USA to pull an exhibition train.
So in 1969 'Flying Scotsman' with its two tenders, left the UK to tour the
North American continent visiting major cities as well as small towns.
tour started well but by 1972 financial problems led to disaster and
bankruptcy. Just in time a new owner - Sir William McAlpine came forward
to rescue 'Flying Scotsman'. The locomotive was successfully repatriated
in February 1973 to the relief of all Britain's steam fans.
Under new ownership 'Flying Scotsman' future was secured. A program of
mainline steam running and visits to preservation railways kept this now
legendary locomotive busy. However in 1988 'Flying Scotsman' was away on
overseas travels again with an 18-month visit to Australia. During the
visit 'Flying Scotsman' visited the length and breadth of Australia and
set a new world record for a non-stop run for steam by taking a train for
422 miles from Parkes to Broken Hill.
In 1996 another new owner, Dr Tony Marchington, came forward to purchase
and finance a major overhaul of the locomotive. When this was completed in
1999, 'Flying Scotsman' re-emerged from its West London base for a major
program of mainline running over Britain's railways. During 2002, the
'Flying Scotsman' has a heavy schedule of mainline trips hauling the
prestigious 'Venice Simplon Orient Express' train of Pullman carriages
bringing joy to countless thousands and reliving once again the great days
On April 5, 2004, it was announced that
the Flying Scotsman will go on display in York, England.
National Railway Museum won its battle to
save the historic rail icon - "the Worlds Most Famous Steam
Locomotives" - following an overwhelming show of public support.
A successful bid was put forward with the help of a major £1.8m grant from
the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF). An initial £365,000 was raised
through the NRM's public appeal and, as pledged, Sir Richard Branson
matched this £365,000 on behalf of the Virgin Group. A further £60,000
donation by the British public raised the total to £790,000, leaving
enough funds to keep the locomotive running on Britain's railway for years
The locomotive on May 29,
2004 to traveled from Doncaster to York to mark the beginning of Railfest, a
National Railway Museum celebration of the bi-centenary of steam
locomotives. The Flying Scotsman did public runs between
York and Scarborough during the summer of 2004.
Flying Scotsman is
currently in the National Railway Museum’s workshop, part way through its
ten year overhaul. Currently the locomotive is completely
dismantled, all welding is finished, and the locomotive is being measured
with lasers which allows our engineers to check and remove distortions in
the frames. Once any distortions are corrected, the gradual process of
re-assembly will begin.
Although much of this work
is happening in the workshop at York, various components have been sent to
specialist engineers all over the UK. You can monitor progress from the
viewing gallery above the workshops, but do not be surprised if at times
there are only the frames and disassembled components to see.
The Flying Scotsman
locomotive will be back in steam in 2011. Delays caused by a world
shortage of copper for the firebox and unexpected cracks in the smokebox
saddle, only discovered after the loco was totally dismantled, were
amongst some of the obstacles eroding the original time scale. The frames
were also out of true and this needed rectifying. Most of these elements a
result of 80 years hard work in an unforgiving environment.
Notwithstanding any unforeseen circumstances, the locomotive will be
pulling passenger trains in the 2011 season.
In 2003 the
Aster Hobby Co. Inc. was proud to offer their recreation of “the
World’s Most Famous Locomotive” - No. 4472 'Flying Scotsman'.
For additional information and photographs of the prototype and model,
The National Railway Museum
web feature on the Flying Scotsman. Geoff
Calver's review of the Aster A3 "Flying Scotsman" is posted
on the reference pages.