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Logo: Tom Bates, Derbyshire Local Histrory writer  
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Flying Scotsman Steams Into Derbyshire!

Posted Saturday, June 23, 2007

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The Flying Scotsman – Fulfilling A Dream

Derbyshire born local millionaire Dr. A.F. (Tony) Marchington once fulfilled a dream by bringing the world’s most famous steam locomotive home to Derbyshire!

`The Flying Scotsman was the Guest of Honour at Peak Rail's Festival of Steam'

The Flying Scotsman was the guest of honour at Peak Rail’s Festival of Steam, a nine-day extravaganza during July & August in Millenneum Year, when large crowds gathered in order to witness the resurrection of this then 77-year-old legendary giant following the completion of a three-year £1.5m restoration programme.

Someone described Tony Marchington as a `haulage contractor and fun fair owner’, - and with a `haulage company’ and Victorian Fun Fair worth in excess of £4m the description is true enough.

But the 50 year old Oxford University educated, Buxworth born entrepreneur has other strings to his bow; he also has a degree in chemistry from Oxford University - followed three years later by a PhD, - and he is Chief Executive of Oxford Molecular Group, a pharmaceutical company he co-founded in 1989. He heads the Buxton Steam Group which comprises a full working Victorian Fun Fair, and has homes in Oxfordshire and Derbyshire as well as farming interests in his home county, - and he is the proud owner of LNER engine number 4472, the Flying Scotsman which he purchased in 1996 at a cost of £1.25m.

When Dr. Marchington purchased this iron clad relic of the steam age from the dissolved Bill McAlpine/Pete Waterman partnership in 1996 it was virtually a clapped-out hulk rusting away in the G.W.R. engine shed at Southall, West London and needed a complete re-build to restore it to it’s former glory.

“I must admit, it was a daunting prospect, says Tony Marchington, “but there was no way I was prepared to let this magnificent example of Britain’s railway heritage fade away.”

Original estimates of 18 months work and a cost of £200,000 were woefully short of the mark, but no expense was spared and the most extensive and expensive steam locomotive restoration ever undertaken eventually cost in excess of £1.5m and took just over three years to complete.

The locomotive’s chief engineer from the 1980’s, Roland Kennington was enlisted along with ex-British Railways David Ward and their expertise and passion coupled with that of Tony Marchington resulted in a resounding success. “We set out to reach Rolls Royce standards, said David Ward, “and I am confident we have achieved it”, he added proudly. 77 years after it first emerged from it’s birthplace in the British Rail engineering sheds at Doncaster in 1923, the Flying Scotsman was back on the rails in pristine condition and once again proudly wore it's famous B.R. apple green livery.

The `Scotsman's' History

The most famous steam locomotive in the world, the `Flying Scotsman’ has a long and distinguished history.

Now a national icon representing the best in British engineering, it was the first express passenger locomotive to be built by the London and North Eastern Railway company in 1923 to the design of Derbyshire’s famous mechanical engineer Sir Nigel Gresley, and the first to carry the famous apple green livery.

The `Scotsman’ was chosen to represent the latest in steam locomotive design and was exhibited at the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley in both 1924 and 1925.

It made the first non-stop London to Edinburgh run on May 1st 1928, which at the time was the longest non-stop run in the world completing the 393 mile journey in 8 hours and fifteen minutes, and in 1934 on a test run from Leeds to London it became the first locomotive in history to reach an authenticated speed of 100 mph.

Many who are old enough to recall the glorious hey-day of steam, and especially those halcyon days of the fifties when almost every schoolboy in the land indulged in a passion for `train-spotting’, will have memories of the magnificent iron-clad mammoths thundering along the main line between Derby and Sheffield and belching sparks and steam in the days before deisel and electric trains took over the tracks.

Some may recall standing on Tapton Bridge or along the Sheffield Road to catch a glimpse of the Thames – Clyde Express as it rattled through Sheepbridge Station, - and hoping that it might just be the famous Flying Scotsman. On many of those occasions it WAS indeed the `Scotsman’ for it plied the L.N.E.R. main line between London, Newcastle and Scotland for 40 years and clocked up some two million miles until it was eventually withdrawn from service in 1963.

When Dr. Beeching famously weilded his `axe’ in 1963 it literally signalled the end of the line for many rural stations and rural services, - and it also marked the end of the era of steam with over 70 steam locomotives being scrapped, leaving the Flying Scotsman as the sole survivor in its class.

Nottinghamshire businessman Alan Pegler bought the `Scotsman for £3000 in 1963 and since then the famous engine has circumnavigated the globe. Between 1969 and 1973 the Flying Scotsman toured the United States of America, and upon its return was purchased by builder Sir William McAlpine.

In 1988 the `Scotsman’ arrived in Australia and was a key feature as the country celebrated its bicentenary, attracting large crowds as it toured the continent, and in 1989 at Broken Hill in New South Wales it set a world non-stop steam record of 422 miles in nine hours and 25 minutes.

The `pulling power’ of the Flying Scotsman remains undiminished in more ways than one, - not only can it haul a load of 600 tons, using 45lb of coal and 40 gallons of water every mile, but it also packs in crowds of enthusiasts wherever it goes.

In July 1999 on its inaugural run from King’s Cross to York following its restoration, passengers paid £350 each for a ticket, - and organisers had to turn down hundreds of other ticket applications!

When the L.N.E.R. `Pacific Class’ Engine No.4472 rode the Peak Rail track between Matlock, Darley Dale and Rowsley in Millenneum Year, it was entirely due to Tony Marchington’s desire and enterprise and Peak Rail’s ingenuity in becoming the first Heritage Railway in the country to be visited by the Flying Scotsman since its return to service, that Derbyshire’s army of `train spotters’ had a unique opportunity of fulfilling the dream too!

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