His Majesty The King celebrates 100 years of Flying Scotsman and 50 years of the North Yorkshire Moors Railway.
This morning Flying Scotsman, the world’s most famous locomotive, hauled the Royal Train into Pickering Heritage Railway Station as part of its centenary tour of the UK and to mark 50 years of North Yorkshire Moors Railway.
Flying Scotsman, which turned 100 on 24th February 2023, had been specially prepared for the occasion: its roof painted white and new lamps fitted to the cab, in line with the tradition of hauling the Royal Train. Following a train journey from Grosmont to Pickering along the North Yorkshire Moors Railways heritage line, His Majesty The King met with Lord Peter Hendy, Chair of Network Rail, and Judith McNicol, Director of the National Railway Museum in York, Flying Scotsman’s home. He also greeted the longstanding volunteers who help maintain the North Yorkshire Moors Railway and unveiled a plaque to mark 50 years since its official opening in 1973.
This is not Flying Scotsman’s first encounter with The Royal Family. The locomotive first attracted Royal attention on 12th August 1925 when King George V and Queen Mary asked to see inside its cab during the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley Park. The King sat in the driver’s seat as the controls were explained to him. Flying Scotsman last hauled a Royal Train on 20th November 1984, when it carried the late Queen Mother to North Woolwich station where she opened a small railway museum. On climbing into the cab and hearing when Scotsman had been built, she replied that that was the year she was married.
Judith McNicol, Director, National Railway Museum, said:
“To have Flying Scotsman haul the Royal Train in its centenary year and in the first year of His Majesty’s reign is a huge honour. It takes a dedicated team of people, with important heritage skills, to keep this engine running as it is the oldest steam locomotive on the main line. We are deeply appreciative of His Majesty’s interest in and support for our historic railways and the skills needed to maintain them.”
Chris Price, Chief Executive, North Yorkshire Moors Railway, added:
“It’s an honour to be able to commemorate our 50th anniversary with a special visit from King Charles III. For all these years, we have preserved our heritage railway and to celebrate this with royalty is such a privilege. It gives us the enthusiasm and joy to continue for generations to come.”
Renowned as a feat of British design and engineering, Flying Scotsman was designed by Sir Nigel Gresley and built in Doncaster in February 1923. The first locomotive of the newly formed LNER (London and North Eastern Railway), it was originally numbered 1472 before gaining its name in 1924 after the daily 10am London King’s Cross to Edinburgh Waverley rail service.
Flying Scotsman was officially the first steam locomotive to reach 100mph, and the first to circumnavigate the globe, with tours of the USA, Canada and Australia. In 1989, it set a world record for a non-stop run in a steam locomotive with a 422-mile trip. It was saved for the nation in 2004, after a campaign spearheaded by the National Railway Museum amassed the support of thousands, confirming its status as a national treasure.
After its visit to Pickering, Flying Scotsman’s next public outing will be on 17th June, when it hauls the Portsmouth Flyer on the next stop of its centenary programme. Those unable to see the locomotive on tour also have the opportunity to experience Flying Scotsman through exhibitions at the National Railway Museum including Flying Scotsman: 100 Years, 100 Voices and Flying Scotsman VR, and with collectible memorabilia available from the National Railway Museum shop. Highlights include a Flying Scotsman centenary train set, a £2 coin from The Royal Mint, featuring Flying Scotsman in vivid colour – a rarity on £2 coins, with the last coloured £2 coin released over 20 years ago – and a new children’s book by bestselling author Michael Morpurgo: Flying Scotsman and the Best Birthday Ever, which tells the story of a little girl called Iris who dreams of being a train driver when she grows up.
For more information, contact:
Josh Chapman, National Railway Museum:
+44 (0)1904 929515 / Joshua.Chapman@railwaymuseum.org.uk
Simon Baylis, National Railway Museum:
+44 (0)1904 686299 / Simon.Baylis@railwaymuseum.org.uk
Notes to editors
- A media pack featuring images of Flying Scotsman and a Q&A about Flying Scotsman’s history can be found here. Please see the Image Credit document in the folder for official credit lines. All images are subject to copyright and are supplied for non-commercial editorial use in connection with this story only. For all other uses, please contact the Science and Society Picture Library: picture.library@ScienceMuseum.ac.uk
- Flying Scotsman was built in Doncaster in February 1923, as an A1 class locomotive for the newly formed LNER and converted to an A3 class in 1947.
It was the first locomotive of the newly formed LNER (London and North Eastern Railway). Designed by Sir Nigel Gresley and numbered 1472, the locomotive was not named ‘Flying Scotsman’ until the following year when it was picked to attend the British Empire Exhibition in London and renumbered 4472. The locomotive went on to operate in service until 1963 and later in preservation, which included tours of the USA, Canada and Australia, where it captured the hearts of millions.
Today the locomotive is owned by the National Railway Museum in York and is operated and maintained by Riley & Son (E) Ltd, based in Heywood, Greater Manchester. To find out more about Flying Scotsman and to hear more about centenary plans as they are announced, visit www.railwaymuseum.org.uk/flying-scotsman
- Built in 1923 at Doncaster Works, costing £7,944
- Weight: 97 tonnes
- Length: 70ft
- Officially the first steam locomotive to reach 100mph, and the first to circumnavigate the globe
- Holds the world record for a non-stop run in a steam locomotive, set in 1989 with a 422-mile trip
- The National Railway Museum in York has the largest collection of railway objects in the world and prior to the pandemic, attracted more than 750,000 visitors per year. The collection includes over 260 locomotives and rolling stock as well as coins, medals, railway uniform and equipment, documents, artwork and photographs. The National Railway Museum forms part of the Science Museum Group, along with the Science Museum in London, the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester, the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford and Locomotion in Shildon. For more information, visit: www.railwaymuseum.org.uk
- North Yorkshire Moors Railway is one of the earliest and most historic lines in the North of England, taking visitors on picturesque journeys along an 18-mile railway line aboard steam and heritage diesel trains. The railway passes through stunning scenery, from wooded valleys to beautiful countryside, stopping at villages and seaside locations. The line was registered as a charity under the title of the North York Moors Historical Railway Trust on 14th February 1973 before being officially opened by The Duchess of Kent later that year.