- Andrew P.M. Wright
Daughter of ‘Flying Scotsman’ saviour waves off world famous steam loco on first train from Swanage
Making the emotional pilgrimage to Dorset’s Isle of Purbeck from her home in Portugal for the special occasion on the morning of Saturday, 22 October, 2022, a delighted Penny Pegler waved off ‘Flying Scotsman’ when it departed Swanage station with the seven-carriage train at 10.05am.
A clearly moved Penny said: “It was wonderful to wave off ‘Flying Scotsman’ on the first train of the day from Swanage because the locomotive has such a special place in my heart.
“It’s great to see so many people coming to see and enjoy ‘Flying Scotsman’ almost 60 years after my dear father saved her from going to a scrapyard. It’s a very special day for me,” she added.
Playing the bagpipes as the ‘Flying Scotsman’ departed Swanage station was 15-year old Frederick Sills, from Wareham, who is a member of the Swanage Railway’s Sygnets youth group and a member of the Weymouth Sea Cadets.
Later, at 11.45am, Penny rode behind ‘Flying Scotsman’ in the luxurious 1940s Pullman ‘Devon Belle’ observation carriage – known as Car 14 – when ‘Flying Scotsman’ hauled the second train of the day from Swanage.
That journey to Corfe Castle and Norden brought back fond memories for Penny who, as a teenager, rode in that same carriage with her late father Alan Pegler behind ‘Flying Scotsman’ in the late 1960s and early 1970s while the train undertook a tour of Canada and the United States to promote British exports.
To mark the re-entry into service on the Swanage Railway of the newly overhauled and refurbished Pullman ‘Devon Belle’ Car 14, a delighted and honoured Penny cracked a bottle of champagne over one of the buffers of the carriage at Swanage station.
Dedicated volunteers with the Swanage Railway Trust restored the historic wooden carriage, which sports large glass windows on three sides, after they rescued the grounded vehicle from San Francisco, in the United States, during 2007 where it was being used as a static bar.
‘Flying Scotsman’ was the Concorde of its day after an historic test run in 1934 saw the Nigel Gresley-designed 97-tonne A3 class locomotive – completed in 1923 by the London and North Eastern Railway (L.N.E.R.) - be the first steam locomotive in the United Kingdom to haul a train at 100 miles an hour.
It was Penny Pegler’s late father, the patriotic entrepreneur Alan Pegler, who bravely purchased ‘Flying Scotsman’ from British Railways in 1963 for £3,000.
Now owned by the National Railway Museum in York, No. 60103 ‘Flying Scotsman’ is hauling trains on the popular Swanage Railway for five days; from Saturday, 22 October, to Wednesday, 26 October, 2022, inclusive, with ticket-only access to stations for the public.
No. 60103 ‘Flying Scotsman’ will also be on static display at Swanage from Thursday, 27 October, to Sunday, 6 November, 2022, inclusive, with ticket-only access to visit the footplate of the record-breaking steam locomotive.
Penny Pegler said: “‘Flying Scotsman’ was a very important part of my life as a child. I was nine years old when my father came up up to my room on a snowy night in January, 1963, to say goodnight and told me, with a twinkle in his eye, that he had just bought a beautiful steam locomotive to save her from being cut up in a scrapyard.
“Over the next few years, my father and I went on many wonderful trips all over the UK with ‘Scotty’ as we called ‘Flying Scotsman’. She was lovely and a special part of my family life.
“It was wonderful to ride in the ‘Devon Belle’ Pullman Car No. 14 again because I spent so many happy and exciting days travelling with the team across the United States in this lovely observation carriage, watching the beautiful scenery go by and waving at the crowds of onlookers who came out in their thousands to see ‘Flying Scotsman’ run by,” she added.
The Swanage Railway Company’s volunteer chairman, Robert Patterson, said: “It was wonderful to welcome Penny Pegler and watch her delight in the sight and sound of ‘Flying Scotsman’ while riding with her in our newly refurbished and overhauled ‘Devon Belle’ Pullman Car 14 was thrilling and a real privilege.
“Penny is a wonderful ambassador for ‘Flying Scotsman’,” added Robert who is a volunteer Swanage Railway station porter.
To find out more about the visit of ‘Flying Scotsman’ to Dorset’s Isle of Purbeck, go on-line to swanagerailway.co.uk.
Story and photograph by Andrew P.M. Wright, Swanage Railway official photographer and press officer.