FLYING SCOTSMAN & ME
By Sarah Griggs
I think my real interest in trains started when I was nine years old and my parents took my brother and I to the Lake District one summer (it was the summer of 1976, but the end of the summer, as I recall heavy rain in Kendal!)
One day trip was to Steamtown at Carnforth (now, sadly, no longer going). I don’t recall much about the day other than Dad asking someone to take a photo of the four of us next to Flying Scotsman. And I remember feeling excited as this was a train that I’d heard of, probably as I could well have seen it on Blue Peter. I have seen the photo once since then, so I’m hoping that my Dad hasn’t accidentally thrown it out.
Fast forward 18 years and I was on holiday in Dorset. As I’d not been on the Swanage Railway, I thought I’d take advantage of their combined ticket to Corfe Castle. Imagine my surprise when I saw Flying Scotsman arrive in the station. Most unexpected but it turned out that she was there for the summer. I was a little confused to begin with, as she was in the LNER Green livery at Carnforth but now she was in BR Livery and the BR number 60103. Alas I’ve only found one photo of that time.
The last time that I saw Flying Scotsman was 2 years ago. I was visiting the NRM with the husband (even now still seems strange saying that word, and thankfully he is also a steam enthusiast). After admiring the restoration work on Duchess of Hamilton we went for a walk through the Workshop Gallery, where you can look down on the workshop, and what we saw was Flying Scotsman in pieces.
It sounds silly to the “uninitiated” but I felt really sad. She’d been there for so long that I was beginning to wonder if we’d ever see her in steam again. And I was reminded that this is an engine renowned for being a bit of a “money pit”.
Thankfully the restoration is pretty much complete, so I can start going through the list of rail tours for an opportunity to see her in steam once again.
As Steve & I looked down on the parts that make up Flying Scotsman, we joked about whether or not she would ever run again in our lifetime, as it seemed like she’d been there forever. Thankfully that wait wasn’t as long as we feared, but when we do get to see her for ourselves, it will be a mixture of a grown-ups relief and a small child’s excitement.