Flying Scotsman restoration update: Classic loco due to return in spring 2012

By Culture24 Reporter | 30 September 2011
a photo of an apprentice working on an engine
Apprentice Andrew Christie works on Flying Scotsman© Courtesy NRM
The campaign to restore one of Britain’s best-known historic locomotives, the Flying Scotsman, could be completed in early 2012 after planners at the National Railway Museum in York said they were “extremely close” to returning the iconic loco to action.

The “People’s Engine”, which came under public ownership in 2004 thanks to a £2.6 million fundraising drive that drew a £365,000 donation from Sir Richard Branson, was expected to be back on the tracks by summer 2011, but the discovery of further defects delayed its resurrection.

Bury experts Riley & Son, who are now carrying out remedial work on the 88-year-old engine, believe work including the installation of a new mid-stretcher, axle box machinations, a new middle motion bracket and horn guide repairs will secure the Scotsman’s long-term condition.

“There is no doubt it has been challenging,” admitted Steve Davies, the Director of the museum, who called the project “one of the most complex of its kind ever undertaken in Britain.”

“There have been a number of points where unforeseen issues have arisen that have caused the project to be delayed whilst options were considered and decisions were made.

"The work due to take place on Flying Scotsman in the next few weeks includes the fabrication and installation of a new mid stretcher, the machining of the axle boxes, the manufacture of a new middle motion bracket and the repair and installation of the horn guides.

"These decisions were taken in accordance with our aims of ultimately maintaining maximum public exposure and enjoyment of the locomotive.

"In order to achieve this, the planned overhaul has always had safety, reliability and sustainability, both mechanical and economic, at the heart of our decision making processes.

"I’d like to reassure the public that although the restoration has been ongoing for more than five years, we are extremely close to seeing Flying Scotsman steaming once again.”

The intricacies of the project seem appropriate for an engine with a convoluted history.

Originally built for the London to Doncaster line in 1923, the 4472 model served Leicester and Nottingham in the 1950s before spells in Darlington, America and Derby via the Panama Canal.

It took a Polynesian trip in 1988 for the bicentenary celebrations of Australia, staying there until 1995, when a consortium spearheaded by star-maker and rail enthusiast Pete Waterman salvaged it. The train switched hands again before the high-profile scheme to save it seven years ago.

Steel company Tata and the Heritage Lottery Fund have provided much of the cash for the latest round of works, aided by a £250,000 Steam Our Scotsman appeal.

More pictures from the restoration:

a photo of a man welding
© Courtesy NRM
a photo of an apprentice working on an engine
© Courtesy NRM
a photo of a man with a spanner working on an engine
© Courtesy NRM
a photo of an engineer working on an engine
© Courtesy NRM
a photo of an apprentice working on an engine
© Courtesy NRM
a photo of two apprentices working on an engine
© Courtesy NRM
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