• Andrew P.M. Wright

Daughter of man who saved ‘Flying Scotsman’ to make pilgrimage to ride behind the iconic locomotive


Photograph: Andrew P.M. Wright

The daughter of the man who saved the record-breaking ‘Flying Scotsman’ from being cut up for scrap is to make a pilgrimage to Dorset’s Isle of Purbeck, from her home in Portugal, to ride behind the world’s most famous steam locomotive.


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 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 station on Thursday and Friday, 20 and 21 October, 2022, and again from Thursday, 27 October, to Sunday, 6 November, 2022, inclusive, with ticket-only access to visit the footplate of the record-breaking steam locomotive.


Flying in from Lisbon for the special occasion, Penny Pegler will be visiting the Swanage Railway on Saturday, 22 October, 2022, to ride behind the steam locomotive that her late father, Alan Pegler, purchased from British Railways in 1963 for £3,000 with the political support of then British Prime Minister Harold Wilson.


Penny will be riding in a special Pullman-style observation carriage ‘Devon Belle’ Car No. 14 - from her past more than 50 years ago - that dedicated Swanage Railway volunteers have restored after they rescued it from San Francisco, in the United States, during 2007 where it was a static bar.


Standard class seats for a one-hour return trip trip behind ‘Flying Scotsman’ from Swanage to Norden and return are £39 per person while Premium class seats, in a 1930s Southern Railway Maunsell heritage coach, are £55 per person.


Tickets for riding in the luxurious Pullman-style ‘Devon Belle’ Car No. 14 behind ‘Flying Scotsman’ – for tasty breakfast pastries, indulgent champagne and canapes or a refreshing afternoon tea – are £99 per person.


In the late 1960s and early 1970s, a teenage Penny rode in the 1940s ‘Devon Belle’ Car No. 14 when the wooden carriage, sporting large glass picture windows, ran

behind ‘Flying Scotsman’ on a publicity tour of Canada and the United States to promote British exports.


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’. For me, she was lovely and a special part of my family life. On many occasions, I followed my father through ‘Flying Scotsman’s corridor tender and sat in the fireman’s seat for a short while. There is nothing quite like it.


“It is going to be such fun to see ‘Devon Belle’ Car No. 14 again. 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.


“My father had a passion for ‘Flying Scotsman’, ever since he saw her as a four year old boy in London, and wanted to keep her running and not to be just a static exhibit.


“He wanted to keep her alive for future generations to enjoy and today she is everybody’s locomotive with everyone having their own special memory of ‘Flying Scotsman’. My father would be so happy to see that and he must be looking down and smiling,” added Penny.


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.


The Swanage Railway Company’s volunteer chairman, Robert Patterson, said: “We’re delighted that Penny Pegler will be very kindly visiting the Swanage Railway to ride behind the world’s most famous steam locomotive that her father saved from the scrapyard.


“It will be a wonderful and very special occasion to see Penny riding in the carriage that she rode in, as an excited teenager, across the United States in the late 1960s and early 1970s while being hauled by ‘Flying Scotsman’ on a British exports publicity tour.


“We owe a great debt of appreciation and thanks to the late Alan Pegler for bravely preserving such a splendid stallion of speed which still has a very special place in the nation’s heart,” added Robert who is a volunteer station porter on the Swanage Railway.


To find out more about the visit of ‘Flying Scotsman’ to the Isle of Purbeck, go on-line to swanagerailway.co.uk.


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


Story and photograph by Andrew P.M. Wright,

Swanage Railway official photographer and press officer.