The Flying Scotsman

Discover Swanage Railway’s most famous and iconic visitor

Arguably the highlight of the Swanage Railway enthusiasts’ calendar is the visits by one of the world’s most famous locomotives, Flying Scotsman.

The historic steam engine has graced the tracks of the Isle of Purbeck’s heritage railway line on a number of occasions, drawing crowds of people wanting to travel behind it, or or simply witness it on static display at Swanage Station.

The Flying Scotsman is famously the first steam locomotive in the UK to haul a train at 100 miles an hour – and the first to circumnavigate the globe.

2022 Swanage visit

It’s wonderful to see Flying Scotsman at Swanage because the iconic locomotive has a wonderful charisma.

It’s a real icon – an impressive piece of 1920s railway engineering and the most famous steam locomotive in the world.

(Swanage Railway Company chairman Bob Patterson)

Swanage Railway enjoyed a three-week visit in October, with tickets available to travel on a carriage pulled by the Flying Scotsman, as well as to visit its footplate.

Passengers could choose from a standard one-hour return trip to Norden Station, or a premium seat, which came with a touch of luxury with champagne and canapés and afternoon tea.

Journeys were coupled with a 1940s Devon Belle Pullman observation carriage – known as Car 14. In its heyday the Devon Belle car was once pulled by Flying Scotsman, so it was great to see them reunited once more.

The duo ran between 1969 and 1972 in America and it was from here, in San Francisco in 2007, that Swanage Railway volunteers rescued Car 14. At the time it was being used as a static bar.

Flying Scotsman fact file

    • 97-tonne A3 class locomotive
    • Build year: 1923
    • Build cost: £7,944
    • Length: 70ft

The history of the Flying Scotsman

  • Design & build: Flying Scotsman was designed by Sir Nigel Gresley as part of the A1 class and construction was completed in 1923 by the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER)
  • Naming: No. 60103 ‘Flying Scotsman’ is named after the London to Edinburgh express train service that it helped to operate – this journey then took eight hours
  • The locomotive was exhibited in 1924 at the British Empire Exhibition in London
  • Record-breaking: In 1934, Flying Scotsman became the first steam locomotive in the United Kingdom to haul a train at 100mph during a test run in 1934
  • Flying Scotsman, like all railway stock, was repainted in wartime black during WWII, and returned to its original Apple Green when the war was over and rebranded as an A3 Pacific. It was painted blue for a short time, but returned once again to green
  • Withdrawn from service in 1963 (retired after pulling trains for 40 years) and destined for the scrapyard, entrepreneur Alan Peglar bought the locomotive for £3,000
  • In 2004 the National Railway Museum acquired Flying Scotsman and then begun a ten-year, £4.2m restoration project on it

Find out even more about this iconic piece of British railway history by visiting the National Railway Museum’s website: