After her first trials on the East Lancashire Railway in January this year following her overhaul, the nation's favourite engine paid a return visit at the end of its triumphant year of main line runs and packed trains on preserved lines.
True to form, 20 daytime trains over four days, each carrying over 400 passengers, were fully booked within hours. I rode the second train and my spare ticket was bought back by the booking office and sold to a delightful old lady who was chuffed to bits with the whole experience.
A return run from Bury to Rawtenstall was not a new experience for me, but the Bolton Caledonian Pipe Band was, and the excitement of all was palpable.
Eight full coaches had brought people from all over the West Country on a tour called Flying Scotsman and Liverpool (rightly in that order). The massive cash injection to preserved steam continues - thanks, Scotsman, and The NRM, and Riley!!
The next morning I was able to join an escorted group of photographers who were allowed to ‘access all areas’ around Bury Bolton Street station, allowing vantage points for shots not normally available to the public. We watched Scotsman coming off shed and back onto the first train of the day, then we went through the tunnel and under the bridge to observe the departure. Back in the station we saw the L&Y 0-6-0 awaiting departure on a service train – I doubt anyone was fooled by the headboard!
Later we saw Scotsman return from Rawtenstall and run round ready for its next departure, then we snapped it as it emerged from the tunnel and passed the Transport Museum. Later the Bulleid Pacific City of Wells, resplendent in full Golden Arrow regalia, sat beside us awaiting the return of the A class from Rawtenstall.
The evening saw us join a ‘premium dining special’ headed by Scotsman, a fitting end to two excellent days with the magnificent Flying Scotsman. Many of the 120 diners gathered around the loco during the stopover at Rawtenstall.
© Peter Hewitt's Transport Pictures