She’s quick and has got the stamina!

This article was published in the Bridport Times.

There is something about clerics and steam trains.

Several years ago at a clergy conference talent contest (it really was as grim as it sounds), the Revd Andrew Dow entertained his colleagues by reproducing the sounds of various engines and a tube train on the underground.

To be fair, it was skilfully done and one of the more unusual of God’s gifts.

When our girls were growing up it was always me who made sure we never missed an episode of ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’ narrated by Ringo Starr. The creation of another clergyman, the Revd WV Awdry, the Thomas franchise has become very profitable. My favourite episode was ‘the Flying Kipper’.

These days the Isle of Sodor is recreated on our lounge floor as I delight playing trains with my grandchildren and making ever more complex tracks.

The most famous and romantic of all steam engines has to be ‘The Flying Scotsman’. A report in the business pages this week attributed the survival of Hornby trains on this single model in its collection.

Staying with an aunt one summer I went to Steamtown in Carnforth. The station platform was used for the final scenes of the film ‘A brief encounter’.

For me though it was the fact that the ‘Scotsman’ was preserved there. I rode on her footplate for about a half a mile, one of the big moments of my life. I’m very, very sad I know.

The Flying Scotsman has been owned by the nation since 2004 after the National Railway Museum bought her for £2.4 million. Currently being renovated it is hoped next year the engine will return to mainline condition and service.

The Flying Scotsman entered service in 1924 and remained active until retirement in 1963 having steamed some 2.5 million miles. The train holds two world records: the longest non-stop journey by a steam locomotive at 422 miles on a tour of Australia in 1988; and she was the first engine to clock 100 miles an hour, 80 years ago this Sunday.

What a magnificent beast that engine is!

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