60103 Flying Scotsman

It is nice to see all of the attention being given to 60103 in the media if only because it raises the profile of steam locomotives and will, hopefully, help encourage people to visit either their local heritage line or maybe one near where they take their holiday (whwever that may be for there are many heritage lines around the world.

The media do tend to confuse the locomotive Flying Scotsman with the train The Flying Scotsman and maybe it is too much to expect for them to do the necessary research, but it would be nice for them to at least recognise that the subject of the news is an engine and not a train.

Despite GWR claims for City of Truro some years earlier in 1934 the LNER A3 loco Flying Scotsman number 4472 (as it was then) was the first train to pass the magic 100 mph mark with any sort of official recording going on, even if said recording was a little on the suspect side. A later flurry of competition between the streamliners of the LMS and LNER pushed the record up with the latter coming out on top with Mallard’s effort, but these were again runs with lightweight trains behind them and it was not until many years later that only the responsible actions of the Inspector in the cab that prevented Bill Hoole from driving another A4 with a normal train behind it, beyond Mallard’s record.

Since then things have moved on and in the late 1970s HSTs began to which me, and others, along the Thames Valley at 125 mph with other trains elsewhere going even faster. Speed has lost its edge as a thrill, but back in the years before WW2 when transport technology was emerging the exploits of 4472 Flying Scotsman and others were a thing of awe. Just as Campbell, Seagrave, Cobb and others thrilled the public with their land and water speed records and the Supermarine seaplanes did the same with their air exploits today we have perhaps become blasé about such things.

Even if 4472 is running in its later guise as 60103 it is giving the younger generations a chance to see a little of those past glories and if they don’t understand the way that they captured public imagination back in the day does it really matter? As long as they love it for what it is now that will do for us.

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