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Sir William McAlpine Remembered

Saviour of Flying Scotsman Sir William McAlpine to be honoured with final memorial trip behind the world-famous steam locomotive.

The National Railway Museum, the rail industry and people across the nation will come together on Friday 11 January to honour the memory of Sir William McAlpinethe saviour of world-famous locomotive No. 60103 Flying Scotsman.

Former owner of Flying Scotsman from 1973–1996, Sir William passed away earlier this year and to recognise his significant contribution to railway heritage a special memorial trip hauled by Flying Scotsman will run in his memory.

As a further tribute, DB Cargo, Network Rail and LNER will permanently rename a Class 90 electric locomotive in his memory.

Named ‘the Scotsman’s Salute’, the special train will depart London King’s Cross around 08.00 on Friday 11 January and travel non-stop to York where it will arrive at 12.30.

After a break for lunch, passengers will be invited to join members of the public at a naming ceremony to be held at the National Railway Museum. At 17.00 the newly named locomotive Sir William McAlpine will then haul the memorial trip’s return journey to King’s Cross where it will arrive at 20.00. 

A lifelong railway enthusiast, Sir William was owner of Flying Scotsman for 23 years and is renowned for rescuing the locomotive from America.

Sir William purchased Flying Scotsman for £25,000 and arranged for the locomotive to be shipped back to the UK from San Francisco where it had been on tour. Sir William then paid for the locomotive to be restored and brought back into main line operation.

He was also instrumental in taking Flying Scotsman to Australia for the first time in 1988. During this trip, journeys included visits to the ‘red heart’ of Australia, Alice Springs as well as Sydney, Melbourne and Perth.

Between 1993 and 1996 Sir William entered into a business partnership with Peter Waterman and the locomotive was then purchased by Tony Marchington in 1996. The locomotive was saved for the nation once again in 2004 when the National Railway Museum, with backing from the public, the Heritage Memorial Fund, Sir Richard Branson and others, raised £2.3m to buy the locomotive. After years of restoration, the locomotive returned to the main line in 2016 with an inaugural run from King’s Cross to York.

As a final tribute, money from the sale of each ticket will be used to fund a one-year engineering traineeship. One lucky budding engineer will get the chance to travel around the country with custodians Riley & Son (E) learning how to maintain the famous engine.

Applications open in the new year and if they meet the required standards, the trainee will be offered a permanent position with the engineering team.

Jim Lowe, Head of Operations at the National Railway Museum, said:

“On behalf of myself, colleagues and volunteers I would like to publicly thank Sir William for his significant contribution to the museum and to the wider preservation of railway heritage in this country. Holding this memorial tour, naming a locomotive after him and especially, setting up an engineering bursary to benefit young people, will create a fitting legacy to honour his memory.”

Timed to coincide with the date of what would have been Sir William’s birthday, the trip will be Flying Scotsman’s first run of the new year and will be the first chance to see the celebrated engine before the 2019 touring schedule is announced.

The memorial trip will have space for 400 members of the public with tickets available from £159 per person in standard class. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased from the website of tour operator UK Railtours:


For more information, please contact:

Simon Baylis, PR & Communications Manager
01904 686 299

About the National Railway Museum

  • The National Railway Museum in York has the largest collection of railway objects in the world and attracts more than 750,000 visitors per year
  • The collection includes over 260 locomotives and rolling stock, 600 coins and medals as well as railway uniform and costume, equipment, documents, records, 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
  • Admission to the National Railway Museum is free, for more information visit:

About Flying Scotsman

  • Flying Scotsman was originally built in Doncaster for the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER), emerging from the works on 24 February 1923 numbered 1472
  • The locomotive was designed by Sir Nigel Gresley as part of the A1 class
  • By 1924, when it was selected to appear at the British Empire Exhibition in London, the locomotive had been renumbered 4472 – and named ‘Flying Scotsman’ after the London to Edinburgh service which started daily at 10am in 1862
  • Flying Scotsman was the first steam locomotive to achieve an authenticated speed of 100mph and the first to undertake a non-stop run between Edinburgh and London
  • Visit for further information

Part of the Science Museum Group