The Flying Scotsman
I was lucky enough to have been able to see the Flying Scotsman and be pulled along by this legendary locomotive on the East Lancashire Railway (ELR) in the middle of last year. I wouldn't say that I'm a massive train enthusiast, although I worked at Network Rail for a time, but I do have an appreciation for steam. Also, being a Graphic Designer with an interest in typography, I find the old signage very interesting as it is a good example of Gill Sans in use. I've also got the British Rail Corporate Identity Manual, which is a cracking piece of design work.
The highlight of the day was seeing the Flying Scotsman pull into Bury station. You get a real sense of the scale of the engine when compared to other steam engines. It truly is a remarkable piece of machinery and engineering.
For those that don't know, here's a few highlights about the Scotsman's history:
Built in 1924, it was capable of speeds of over 100mph, and could travel from non-stop from London to Edinburgh in 8 hours.
In 1969 it was taken on a tour of the USA, which turned out to be a financial disaster that caused the Scotsman to become stranded in the US.
In 1973 it was rescued by William McAlpine who paid off creditors, bought the locomotive and returned it to Britain.
The Scotsman has also been to Australia, where it performed a non-stop run of 442 miles in 1989.
The journey on the train was an experience, although when I stopped to think about it inside the carriages, we could have been being pulled along by any steam engine at that point, and the carriages were unremarkable. We had arrived at Bury station via a diesel shuttle service which was pulling the carriages used in the Harry Potter films, which seemed to be a much more exciting experience for the kids.
To truly experience a journey in the Flying Scotsman you would need to go from London to Edinburgh along the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) line, which is sadly no longer an option. Another alternative is to find out if the Flying Scotsman will running a service pulling the Orient Express Pullman train, then you can ride in style.
I think I would like to see the Flying Scotsman again if I get chance; preferably from a distance so I can see it travelling across the countryside, and have the opportunity to take some photos. It would be awesome to see it going across the viaduct in Scotland that was used in the Harry Potter films.