For me there is a personal connection, I recall seeing this 1923 Pacific steam locomotive in a train museum as a very young child along with the Stephensons Rocket. I don’t believe it was in a very good condition after being rescued from the States.
As steam engines go, few are as iconic as this one as thousands of residents across the Duchy came out today despite the poor weather.
The engine is special on more than just a personal level though. It was the first locomotive in the UK to reach 100mph and it certainly seemed to be at an optimum cruising speed today, blink and you would have missed it going past!
The history of the steam train is full of near scrappage and rescue. Being stranded in the US after a lack of funding and of course a repetition of bankrupting its owners.
Wherever this engine has travelled it has drawn huge crowds and been a proud symbol of Britian’s glorious engineering and steam age. Not only travelling by ship to the US where it ran for a year with a modified cow catcher but after it’s rescue again it was even shipped to Australia for the Bi-Centennial celebrations. Both times gave large risk to the heavy engine breaking free and either rolling off the deck or going down with the ship in rough seas or storm swells. Thankfully it made it there and back on both occasions for us all to continue being able to enjoy it.
There is something magical about a steam engine. It maybe a man made machine but you can’t help but feel like it has a living and breathing life of it’s own. Today was utterly amazing as I stood in a field with my wife and my 1 year old son watching this magical puffing monster racing towards us.
Something I spotted today was the sign at the front of the engine so I looked it up. What did we do before Google! “The Cathedrals Express”, what did that mean if the train was called The Flying Scotsman. Well, turns out that the Cathedrals Express was a named passenger express introduced in 1957 on the Western Region of British Railways. It connected the cathedral cities of Hereford and Worcester to London Paddington. It was basically a title to say hey I’m the bee’s knees so book me just like the cruise ships blue ribbon status for speed and luxury.
Now if only it could become more of a regular event with a mixture of trains and the railways backing, imagine the extra tourism and enjoyment potential that has!