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Flying Scotsman Update October 2016

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by National Railway Museum Director, Paul Kirkman


Recently publishing the final cost of the restoration of Flying Scotsman, it has quite rightly provoked some interest.  It cost a lot of money. So we think it is worth putting on the record how proud we are at the National Railway Museum to have finally returned this greatest of locomotives to operation, bringing an icon of British engineering back to the people.

Flying Scotsman in North Yard at NRM (Image credit: NRM, SSPL)

Flying Scotsman in North Yard at NRM (Image credit: NRM, SSPL)

Some have said the restoration has been too expensive and questioned how we could ever have spent so much. We have been quite open about the shortcomings of the management of project, for example in the published report by Bob Meanley We looked to learn our lessons and certainly do not claim everything has gone perfectly.

That said, it is impossible to speculate what the minimum cost for the restoration might have been in a perfect world. As those involved with heritage railways will know, all these projects are different and we could trade good and bad examples forever. When it comes to value for money, what is clear is that it cost a lot of money, but the value has been extraordinary. That is why we said it has been eminently worthwhile when we announced the final cost.

People have said that we could have better spent the money on other things. But life isn’t that simple. Exciting projects attract money that wouldn’t be there otherwise. The £2.3 million purchase price of the locomotive came from external funds with £1.8 million coming from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, £441k from public donations to the museum and £365k match funding from Virgin Group.

Over £1.8 million of the cost of the £4.5million restoration cost came from external funders, public donations and the sale of Flying Scotsman merchandise. This includes a £275k grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. And because we are part of the bigger Science Museum Group, the Trustees of the group made extra resources available to the National Railway Museum for the restoration project: it hasn’t come from the normal annual budgets of the museum.

The locomotive is now operating fantastically well with the Riley’s team in charge. That arrangement is in place until the end of next year. At the right time we will consider options for taking this forward and will make an announcement next year. We are committed to creating a robust and effective long term future business model covering all aspects of Flying Scotsman maintenance and operation.

At NRM we’re proud to have put Flying Scotsman back on the rails to the clear delight of so many and passionately feel it was a worthy and ultimately positive investment.

Written by Dan Clarkson

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  1. John Penny

    I can’t see much of a problem. Some faceless bureaucrats spent untold millions on works of art (some of questionable value – piles of bricks and suchlike) whereas this ‘work of art’ is seen by tens of thousands of people every time she goes out, who thrill to the sight of a magnificent machine, whether they are into railways or not.

  2. Bryan Cole

    Restoring `Flying Scotsman` was a great thing to do, all museums are great for displaying what was, and that is OK, but `Flying Scotsman` is a live living locomotive, so why not restore it, locomotive restorations will always be expensive, but there only one Flying Scotsman` and should be set free to run as it was built, and all of the people can see her as she should be seen, If I were living in the UK i would love to be able to see it, and see it run. The last time I saw Scotsman was at Didcot in 1973 along with 60007 Sir Nigel Gresley, prior to going to Adelaide in South Australia, which is now my home, and has been for 41 years. Those that complain about the cost are not obviously steam locomotive people, and do not live it, do not love it, and they do not understand the magic of steam, I caught the bug at Oxford in the early 1950`s, and still have it, I get my fix of this by watching the over 100 of British steam DVD `S that I have in my collection. Thank you for what you all do at NRM, GWS, and the many other societies that bring steam back to life steam so we, the people can go see, and that allows us to go back to another time when steam was alive

  3. Stephen Rhodes

    Well it is nice to know that the NRM has wasted the publics, lottery and Virgins money and not too much of theirs on this appalling project. Heads should roll!

  4. Peter malin

    I am not a fan of Flying Scotsman, but many others are…even people who have no interest or knowledge of railways are aware of this loco.
    I really think the restoration of this loco had to happen almost regardless of the cost. I’m sure future generations will consider it money well spent. Perhaps in time we’ll consider it to have been a bit of a bargain!

  5. Richard Oldroyd

    I had the pleasure of seeing her yesterday and loved it, there is something about that era that’s fascinating.
    The video is on my YouTube.

  6. Dave Foddy

    The locomotive has provided much joy over many years. In addition to seeing the locomotive, there is much enjoyment from watching the television programmes about its history and restoration. It is wonderful to see the locomotve as a static exhibit, but the sight, the smell, the passion that it rouses when in steam and in motion is sheer delight.
    A few million pounds, it’s worth every penny.

  7. Chris Best

    Dear Sir or Madam.
    In respect of the restoration and running costs for the Flying Scotsman, the figures should not be an issue, as we are talking here about an essentially and vitally successful key element of British motive engineering history at it’s very best at the time, and as such is a national treasure, as is the National Railway Museum it’s self, and everything it encompasses. We should also pay our respects and thanks to all those who managed, and those who were physically responsible for, the restoration, on-going maintenance and running of the Flying Scotsman.
    Yours most sincerely,
    Chris Best
    20 October 2016.

  8. Joseph William Carr

    Dear Sir or Madam,

    I am concerned after the restoration of the Flying Scotsman, that it is now sporting ‘Blinkers’. I am 73 years old and have seen this
    engine many times over the years, but never seen it wearing ‘Blinkers’ before. To my mind this addition spoils the Flying Scotsman.

    Keep up the good work otherwise, I love both York and Shildon museums.

    Yours,
    Joe Carr

  9. David

    The flying Scotsmen is a part of our history, and we should be very proud to have it here in YORK.I know I am.

  10. Steve Collins

    I recently restored a 1936 car which also cost me a lot of money, but……………I would do it all over again because she is there now and hopefully preserved for a long time to come. The same goes for the Flying Scotsman she is there now and hopefully she will be around for a long time to come, so I say spend the money no matter what. I hate to think of the alternative and no more Steam Engines around!!

  11. robert luther

    unique projects like Flying Scotsman are well worth the investment. surely, as noted, things could have better done but, would the cost have been substantively less ? likely not.

    the important thing here is that Flying Scotsman is available for everyone to experience. with so much of Britain’s railway heritage lost forever those remaining take on greater significance.

    now, if Evening Star & especially Mallard could be restored to steam, that would be something indeed.

    we have nothing like them in the States. everyone in the UK should be justifiably proud.

  12. Dave James

    Congratulations On doing such an excellent job. It has bought so much joy to young and old, so it was worth every penny. It brings the Great back into Great Britain! 🙂

  13. Gareth Nolan

    This is a loco I love and have followed and ridden behind for many years. I am pleased to see her back in running order. However, she is a priceless piece of our heritage, and following multiple works of restoration I wonder just how much of what we see is now original. I would like to see her retired into prime position in the NRM following the expiry of her boiler certificate, and a replica built that will be run on the mainline so we don’t lose these wonderful sights and sounds. A replica can be built for much less than the cost of 4472’s recent restoration.

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