Five times to the moon and still going

Seventy-five years old in May, the Flying Scotsman was the fastest locomotive of its day, touching 100mph between London and Edinburgh along what is now Richard Branson’s Virgin East Coast Main Line. Built in Doncaster in 1923 for the London & North Eastern Railway at a cost of £7,944, the now priceless steam locomotive was […]

Seventy-five years old in May, the Flying Scotsman was the fastest locomotive of its day, touching 100mph between London and Edinburgh along what is now Richard Branson’s Virgin East Coast Main Line.

Built in Doncaster in 1923 for the London & North Eastern Railway at a cost of £7,944, the now priceless steam locomotive was rescued from the scrapyard in 1963 by enthusiast and entrepreneur Alan Pegler.

Since then it has been hauling excursion trains across England, Scotland and Wales and has clocked up an amazing 2.4 million miles over its lifetime, equal to 10 trips round the world or five visits to the moon.

For the anniversary a two-year £300,000 rebuild of the 100-tonne locomotive was carried out with technical advice from welding expert TWI.

A traditional process was used to repair the steel backhead on the boiler. Worn material was ground away and restored to its original dimensions by manual metal arc welding.

On the copper firebox, the much newer electron beam (EB) welding process was used to attach a flange.

Considered at its launch to be the most innovative of all time, Sir Nigel Gresley’s design is still a trendsetter. The EB-welded component is the first on a locomotive steam boiler.