To mark this week's anniversary of Flying Scotsman officially joining the National Collection, the National Railway Museum has announced a new opportunity for Flying Scotsman fans to ride behind the most famous locomotive in the world for just £5.
While the locomotive continued to wow the crowds in the south over the weekend post a decade-long, £4.2m restoration, the museum also gave the welcome news that five lucky fans of Flying Scotsman can win guaranteed tickets to ride behind the legendary locomotive on Saturday 23 July, the opening day of its sixties-themed Shed Bash event at Locomotion: The National Railway Museum at Shildon.
Although tickets are priced at a pocket-friendly £5 each, they are not available for pre-booking so a fortnight-long prize draw is being launched Tuesday 31 May to give steam lovers the chance to win their dream ticket.
Said National Railway Museum Director Paul Kirkman:
As so many heritage railways sold all their available Flying Scotsman rides within days and many railway tours starring Scotsman are fully booked, we wanted to offer a truly open chance for fans of this iconic locomotive to ride behind this steam legend at our Shildon museum."
Five pairs of tickets guaranteeing a ride on the first train on opening day are up for grabs – all steam fans have to do is fill in their details on the Flying Scotsman website before the closing date of 10am on Tuesday 14 June. The lucky winners will be informed later that day.
In May 2004 the National Railway Museum purchased Flying Scotsman for £2.3 million on behalf of the nation and on 29 May its appearance at Railfest alongside Richard Branson marked its official entry into Britain's National Collection of railway greats. The appeal to keep the most famous locomotive in the world in Britain was supported by a £1.8 million grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the generosity of the public.
Pam Porter, Events Manager at Locomotion; the National Railway Museum at Shildon, said:
We hope that the chance to win tickets at our free Museum event showcasing Scotsman in steam alongside other East Coast giants will be the perfect way to celebrate the nation's ownership of this celebrity among steam locomotives. We're looking forward to as many people as possible joining us to marvel at the sight of Scotsman in steam and take the chance to ride behind it and hop on board its cab and that of other well-known rail icons.
As well as the chance to see Flying Scotsman visitors can enjoy other Gresley greats including Green Arrow and Union of South Africa, rivalling Scotsman in the celebrity stakes for hauling the royal train with Her Majesty the Queen at the opening of the Borders railway. The Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry which was cosmetically restored in the Shildon workshop to its sixties appearance for Scotsman Season will also be on display.
Flying Scotsman's restoration is one of the most complex and lengthy overhauls of a steam locomotive ever undertaken, but the steam icon is now making the most of its new lease of life as the oldest working steam locomotive on the mainline, with a successful tour of Scotland and the south under its belt.
Later this week the globetrotting screen star and multiple record-breaker will be making its highly anticipated run from London to York via Leicester with the Railway Touring Company's Yorkshireman tour. The Shildon Shed bash is the final event in the Museum's Scotsman Season, a whole series of celebratory events and exhibitions that have taken place at the National Railway Museum's York and Shildon sites to celebrate the icon’s return to the spotlight.
The season is being sponsored by Virgin Trains, which runs the modern day Flying Scotsman service between Edinburgh and London, and last year launched its own Flying Scotsman locomotive to promote this service on its iconic east coast route.
Flying Scotsman's celebrity status was established when it was named after the renowned high speed passenger train service between London and Edinburgh, which was first referred to as The Flying Scotchman in 1875. 'Starring Scotsman', the National Railway Museum's free exhibition examining the locomotive's claims to fame, is also open to visitors until 19 June.
David Horne, Managing Director of Virgin Trains on its East Coast route, said:
"Flying Scotsman has an incredible history and we’re proud to be sponsoring a season celebrating its return to the tracks. In the pre-war era, the Flying Scotsman train symbolized speed and style - service qualities which remain important to our customers today. Our fantastic new Virgin Azuma trains in 2018 will make the four hour Edinburgh to London journey the norm - half the time it took the Flying Scotsman to do the journey non-stop before the war - and bring an even better customer experience with them."
Scotsman Season is sponsored by Virgin Trains. Flying Scotsman and the Shildon Shed Bash runs from 23 -31 July 2016 at Locomotion: The National Railway Museum at Shildon. For the latest conversations about the return of Flying Scotsman, use or track #Flying Scotsman. For photos or stories about Flying Scotsman track #MyScotsman or submit your own via our Flying Scotsman website.