The Flying Scotsman

Designed by Sir Nigel Gresley, Flying Scotsman is one of the most famous locomotives in the world. In 2004 this iconic steam engine was saved for the nation from being sold abroad by the National Railway Museum and is currently being restored.

Coin Design

Coin depicting the Flying Scotsman

This official UK £5 coin depicts an element from Flying Scotsman, and features the Olympic Rings and the London 2012 logo.

'The quotation, ‘True hope is swift’, is taken from William Shakespeare’s Richard III and represents the speed of Flying Scotsman as well as being a sentiment with which all Olympians could associate.'

Designer Shane Greeves


Flying Scotsman was built in 1923 by the London North Eastern Railway (LNER) at Doncaster works at a cost of £7,944. It was employed on long-distance express trains, including the 10am London to Edinburgh Flying Scotsman service after which it was named. It was originally built as an A1, carrying the number 1472. However, it became a flagship locomotive for the London and North Eastern Railway, representing the company at the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley in 1924 and 1925 and was renumbered – the renowned 4472.

Flying Scotsman ran with a new version of the large eight-wheel tender which held nine tons of coal together with the facility for water replenishment from the water trough system and this enabled it to become the first locomotive to travel eight hours non-stop from London to Edinburgh.

In 1934, 4472 was the first steam engine to achieve a speed of 100mph and earned a place in the land speed record for railed vehicles. Between these high points of service, Flying Scotsman continued her normal duties and was eventually upgraded to A3 class. In 1948 the four regional rail companies were nationalised to become British Rail and Flying Scotsman was renumbered ‘60103’. During its lifetime Flying Scotsman has travelled over 2,000,000 miles and was finally withdrawn from service in 1963.

The Restoration

Flying Scotsman was sold in 1963 to Alan Pegler who restored it as closely as possible to its original condition. Subsequently it went on a number of railtours, including a tour of Australia resulting in two new world records – the longest non-stoprun by a steam engine (422 miles), and the first locomotive to circumnavigate the globe when travelling back to the UK via Cape Horn.

In 2004 this iconic locomotive was saved from being sold abroad by the National Railway Museum and is currently being overhauled. This overhaul is a significant milestone in the life of Flying Scotsman.

The locomotive is completely dismantled, all welding is finished and the locomotive is being measured with lasers which allows engineers to check and remove any distortions in the frames. Once these have been corrected, the slow process of re-assembly will begin. Flying Scotsman will be back in steam in 2010 and hopefully will be pulling passenger trains by 2011.

A view of the Flying Scotsman

Front cover of the Flying Scotsman story card

Download the Flying Scotsman story card

Did you know?

  • First steam locomotive to achieve a fully authenticated speed of 100mph
  • Cost £7,944 to build
  • Starred in a full-length feature film, entitled ‘Flying Scotsman’
  • Featured in ‘The Railway series’ of children’s books by Rev. W. Awdry
  • Appeared in the ‘102 Dalmations' film, pulling the Orient Express out of London
  • Travelled over 2,000,000 miles in its lifetime
  • Weighs over 96 tons
  • Is 70 feet long