• Andrew P.M. Wright

Close to celebrating its centenary, iconic ‘Flying Scotsman’ to visit the Swanage Railway


Photograph: Andrew P.M. Wright

Close to celebrating its centenary, record-breaking ‘Flying Scotsman’ – the most famous and iconic steam locomotive in the world – is to visit the Swanage Railway in Dorset’s Isle of Purbeck for almost three weeks during October, 2022.


Owned by the National Railway Museum in York, the iconic 97-tonne A3 class locomotive – completed in 1923 by the London and North Eastern Railway (L.N.E.R.) – will be on the popular Purbeck heritage line for 19 days from Wednesday, 19 October, to Sunday, 6 November, 2022, inclusive.


During a test run in 1934, the Nigel Gresley-designed ‘Flying Scotsman’ was the first steam locomotive in the United Kingdom to haul a train at 100 miles an hour.


Coupled behind No. 60103 ‘Flying Scotsman’ will be a late 1940s Devon Belle Pullman observation carriage – known as Car 14 – that dedicated Swanage Railway volunteers rescued from San Francisco in the U.S.A. during 2007 where it was a static bar.


It was between 1969 and 1972 that ‘Flying Scotsman’ ran with the Devon Belle Car 14 in the United States of America during a tour of the country aimed at promoting British exports. Sadly, the company running the tour went bankrupt with ‘Flying Scotsman’ being returned home but the Pullman observation carriage remained in the USA.


The Swanage Railway’s volunteer commercial director Marcus Alldrick said: “The trustees, directors, staff and dedicated volunteers of the Swanage Railway are delighted that the Railway has been successful in its bid to again host ‘Flying Scotsman’ which celebrates its centenary during February, 2023.


“We are extremely grateful to the National Railway Museum for again giving the Swanage Railway the opportunity to host such an historic event to operate and display the world famous ‘Flying Scotsman’ which is such a charismatic icon and turns 100 years old on 24 February, 2023.


“It will be marvellous to admire No. 60103 hauling the unique Devon Belle Pullman observation carriage – known as Car 14 – because they operated as a pair across the USA between 1969 and 1972," explained Marcus who is a volunteer porter on the popular Purbeck heritage line.


Fresh from a major engineering overhaul, ‘Flying Scotsman’ will be hauling passenger trains from Swanage to Corfe Castle and Norden for five days – from Saturday, 22 October, to Wednesday, 26 October, 2022, inclusive – with ticket-only access to stations for the public.


The iconic steam locomotive will be on static display at Swanage station on Thursday, 20 October, and Friday, 21 October, 2022, and again from Thursday, 27 October, to Sunday, 6 November, 2022, inclusive, with ticket-only access to visit the fascinating footplate of the iconic steam locomotive.


Swanage Railway Trust trustee and Swanage Railway Company chairman Robert Patterson explained: "With uniformed attendants serving champagne and canapés to passengers on board the Devon Belle Pullman observation carriage, Car 14 will be coupled directly behind 'Flying Scotsman' when it hauls trains on the Swanage Railway.


"That will give Pullman passengers a rare chance to enjoy the delights of travelling in style behind, and watching, the world's most famous steam locomotive as it travels through the beautiful Purbeck countryside and past the historic ruins of Corfe Castle.


"'Flying Scotsman' visited the Swanage Railway in March, 2019, and the reaction from the public seeing and hearing the charismatic leviathan of steam at work was amazing and proved that the iconic locomotive still has a special place in people’s hearts,” added Bob who is also a volunteer station porter on the Swanage Railway.


Costing £7,944 to build, ‘Flying Scotsman’ was named after the prestigious London to Edinburgh express train service that the locomotive helped to operate – the journey time being eight hours.


In 1924, ‘Flying Scotsman’ appeared at the British Empire Exhibition in London and in 1963 British Railways withdrew the locomotive from service.


Purchased by the National Railway Museum in 2004, ‘Flying Scotsman’ was restored thanks to a £4.2 million, ten-year project funded by the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Heritage Lottery Fund as well as from public donations.


To find out more about ‘Flying Scotsman’s visit go on-line to swanagerailway.co.uk. Information about the locomotive’s history and restoration is available thanks to the National Railway Museum at flyingscotsman.org.uk


The Swanage Railway welcomes new volunteers who should contact Swanage Railway volunteer recruitment and retention officer Jonathan Evans on 01929 408466 or email iwanttovolunteer@swanagerailway.co.uk.


Story and photograph by Andrew P.M. Wright, Swanage Railway official photographer and press officer.