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Flying Scotsman's 100th Birthday

Updated: Mar 7, 2023

Often referred to as the world's most famous locomotive, the Flying Scotsman will spend the rest of 2023 travelling across country to allow as many people as possible to see it in its centenary year.

The Flying Scotsman
The Flying Scotsman | Wikipedia

The Flying Scotsman surprised travellers as it pulled into Edinburgh, the Scottish capital, to celebrate 100 years in service. It made its inaugural journey on 24 February 1923, from the sheds at Doncaster Works.

A century later, and following a lick of paint, it arrived at Edinburgh Waverley station where celebrations took place to mark the centenary. Dancers from the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society performed The Flying Scotsman, devised by Hugh Thurston in 1966, and the event was rounded off with a set by Celtic rock band the Red Hot Chilli Pipers.

Poet Laureate Simon Armitage read out a poem called The Making Of The Flying Scotsman to mark the event. He rode on the locomotive as part of the process of writing the poem, in which he describes how the steam engine “coughed into life” and features “vast steel circumferences” and “rippling bodywork pouring with sweat”.

Its achievements include hauling the inaugural non-stop London to Edinburgh train service in 1928, a distance of 392 miles, and becoming the UK’s first locomotive to reach 100mph six years later. Designed by Sir Nigel Gresley, it remained in service on the London and North Eastern Railway until 1963.

The National Railway Museum in York, where Flying Scotsman is a working exhibit, has organised a centenary programme featuring events and displays. Judith McNicol, director of the museum, says the locomotive will spend the rest of 2023 travelling across the country to allow as many people as possible to see it in its 100th anniversary year.

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