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The Flying Scotsman

The Flying Scotsman is a big subject that has its own chapter in "LNER Passenger Trains & Formations". Alas, there was never going to be enough room for everything so here are some extra bits of info that add to or enlarge on the subject.


The term "Flying Scotsman" for the 10am Edinburgh train was officially started by the LNER after 1923 and probably not fully embraced until the 1924 formation was in service. The terms "Flying Scotchman" and "Special Scotch Express" had existed unofficially before then probably as far back as the pre-Grouping races in the 1880s/90s but there is no known starting point for the terms.

Flying Scotsman 1924-37

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Clive and I used this picture on p.30 of LNER Trains Vol.1 while describing the early LNER formations which, in this case, was the inaugural working in 1924 of the newly equipped 12-coach formation. This is an original print from Real Photographs.

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There is a b&w version of the original with a Zeppelin flying over the train(!) but this colourised one from the Locomotive Publishing Co. Ltd (LPC) is rather nice. The caption on the back reads "Flying Scotsman" at 70mph near Hatfield .... Gresley "Pacific" No 1471 "Sir Frederick Banbury" and the image is remarkably faithful to the original. The exuberance of the LNER livery shows so well, especially when the teak-panelled carriages were freshly varnished and which b&w photography concealed. Unposted postcard, Steve Banks collection.

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Toilet 3rd vs 1st class saloon

The first topic links two workings during the summer in the 1930s: the "Flying Scotsman" and the "Northern Belle". The Toilet 3rd was the internal name for a coach introduced in 1928 under D.23A with a ladies retiring room and hairdressing saloon, improved in 1932 by the addition of a cocktail bar, which was later turned into a buffet. The LNER promoted it as "a hotel on wheels".

Flying Scotsman

Author's collection

This picture on p.33 shows the summer formation in 1934 or '35 at Ganwick with 2746 Fairway in charge of the Up train in almost its final form before complete replacement took place in 1938 (with the all-new, end-vestibule, pressure ventilated formation). Several unusual features stand out - that took place regularly but only at certain times of the year and have largely been forgotten. But first, here is the formation, which I have (unusually) presented in reverse order under the picture so that the text lines up beneath the coaches in the train. Most of the codes should be self-explanatory, the unusual ones are described in the text:


The body of the train carries the catering, a restaurant triplet set (RTS) with, on the rear, the three-coach portion for Aberdeen.

Strengthening: It looks like a summer Saturday and the formation has been increased from 11 to 15 coaches. Not all that noticeable in the middle and in the 3rd class part of the train behind the RTS, are two extra TKs fitted with roof boards. More eye-catching is the ad-hoc addition of two more coaches behind the tender, without roof boards: a 3rd and a locker composite (CG).

No Toilet 3rd: The Ladies Retiring Room, Hairdressing Saloon and Cocktail Bar 3rd has been borrowed temporarily for the luxury "Northern Belle" touring train which ran, for a week at a time, several times in early and late summer from 1933-39 (pages 166-168 in the book). Its place behind the RTS was taken by a normal TK. More interestingly, this 3rd class "hotel on wheels" was replaced in the Scotsman by an ex-GNR 1st Saloon - and put on the other side of the catering, in the 1st class part of the train, between the RTS and FK. Passengers wandering through the saloon would have been a nuisance, but in this position, relatively few in number.

Coaches in Flying Scotsman

In this enlargement, the locker composite, second in the train, is easily recognised by the double doors. Two externally identical diagrams (D.8 and D.116) were used in the winter formation for Perth and Aberdeen - and spare in summer.

The BG, normally an all-steel one, on this occasion was an older, teak-panelled one to D.43, which had narrower panels and no ducket compared with the later D.113.

Note how wide the full 1st is - these were the first coaches with end vestibules and in this Diagram they were recessed to ensure that the door handles fitted inside the loading gauge.

GNR saloon


Next is the ex-GNR 1st Saloon and as far as I can tell, it was to GN.45D (Nos 397,807, LNER 4397,4807) and dating from 1912, by far the oldest carriage in the train that was, until advent of the streamline flyers, the LNER's flagship express with regularly replaced, newly-built carriages. The Scotsman was well known for carriages unique to the train but this veteran from before the Great War - and only 52'6" long - would have stood out and quite likely surprised the 1st class clientele with its old-fashioned charm.

One of these saloons survives in the "Royal Scotsman" train, albeit with slightly different beading after preservation and the interior reworked. There is, or rather, there used to be, a kit from D&S (or was it just etched sides?) which I wrote up: it's a beautiful vehicle and model, see the Articles Index for publication details. Here's a view of the finished model:

GNR saloon

By way of conclusion, to underline how regularly the Scotsman was upgraded with modern stock, note how in 1934/35 (a tighter date than before thanks to John Smart using loco details), most, but not yet all of the TKs in the formation were the recently built end-vestibuled version on steel-angle trussing underframe introduced on 61'6" stock in 1934 and which, naturally, were put in the Scotsman pretty quickly.

The 1938 formation

This was written up for both the summer and winter formations and I revisit here with a twist since a photograph of the service that began on 4th July 1938 has come to light wrongly described by Peter Coster in one of his books as not entering service until "autumn 1938". There's quite a bit of confusion here.

Scotsman 4482

The all-new, pressure ventilated train was demonstrated to the press on 30th June 1938 and entered public service four days later amid a tumult of national publicity. This undated picture by H Gordon Tidey (Real Photographs) was almost certainly taken a few weeks into the 1938 summer service behind A4 4482 Golden eagle, which has one of the new sets led by BG No 1013.

1938 Scotsman

This enlargement from an ER Wethersett picture of the Up train at Ganwick behind 4491 Commonwealth of Australia was taken on 24th August 1938. The quality is a little poorer but again, the original coaches are evident, in this case the other set headed by BG No 1012. Behind the bogie van, however, there are two substitutes for the leading TK and FK - both with conventional ventilation on the roof, and the latter on turnbuckle trussing. It's hard to tell for certain but I cannot see any more substitutes further back. Stand-ins like this were perfectly normal although they don't often show up in trains as clearly as this.

FS 4498

This is the picture miscaptioned by Peter Coster as "the 1928 stock [still running] in summer 1938". It's an undated GR Griggs photo (Photomatic 6196) at New Southgate with 4498 Sir Nigel Gresley in charge and as far as I can see, all the carriages bar one are very old (by ECJS standards) on turnbuckle trussing. To my eye this picture was taken in spring 1939 when the pressure-ventilated set was taken out for spring cleaning and refurbishment prior to start of the next summer timetable. Made up with spare stock, the substitute formation is remarkably vintage, especially when compared with the actual formation that by 1938 just before complete replacement had been modernised heavily with newly-built carriages with end-vestibules on steel angle trussing.

The actual choice of stock should come as no surprise for all the best carriages in the fleet were spoken for in specific trains in the normal pecking order, from the best to, shall we say, the least best. Laid aside in the carriage sidings was a selection of the principal types and qualities for substitution as required, and more or less complete spare sets that were adjusted according to need for a relief. On a busy day many trains were duplicated, occasionally even run in three "parts". And that's exactly the kind of train we're looking at here, adjusted to try and replicate the normal formation of the "Flying Scotsman". Only completely missing is the unique 1938 equivalent of the previously unique Toilet 3rd - the new Buffet Lounge. Actually, I think I can see an ex-GNR saloon in one of the pictures, but that would be stretching analysis of the negative a step too far.

In fact, there is another picture showing the same thing, taken by ER Wethersett on 8 June 1939 with an almost identical set of ancient carriages. The only visible difference was in the BG which varied between D.43 (turnbuckle) and D.260 (steel angle trussing). I don't have a print of this one and can best refer viewers to pp.40-41 of "Great Railway Photographers, ER Wethersett", Colin Garratt/NRM 1996, with the proviso that this caption wrongly describes the train as "the 1938-built set... in the summer of either 1938 or 1939". We are fortunate to have two fine pictures of this routine procedure and it's unfortunate that both have been so misrepresented.

If there's a moral in all this it's that reality bites: surviving records such as Carriage Working books that are all too often trotted out as if gospel only indicate what was planned, not what happened on a practical basis. Relatively cursory examination of the Flying Scotsman 1938 set's first year of service shows routine variations. And of course, it did enter service at the start of the summer 1938 season, running alongside the Junior Scotsman; was combined in the usual way for the winter season; and just before the next summer season started, was substituted temporarily for spring-cleaning. And so the cycle began again.

Sample 1938 diagrams

The following selection shows the plan and vertical views (only) as help for modellers.

Selective enlargement of TK - D.256

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Selective enlargement of FK - D.257

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The unique buffet lounge to D.258 with ladies retiring room at one end and full length side corridor.

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Selective enlargement of FK - D.259

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Selective enlargement of BTK - D.261

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