Being known as the most famous train in the world gives you some degree of responsibility. People turn out to see you in their droves as you pass by and expect you to be in spectacular condition, full of vigour and full of throttle. It is the Flying Scotsman that currently is blessed with this appellation. They really mean the most famous locomotive in the world but everyone knows what is meant.
The Flying Scotsman’s web site refers to it as the Nation’s Favourite Locomotive.
So it has a lot to live up to and when I heard that it was to pass through my home town later that day I was excited to go and have a peak. Steam is not really my thing, I prefer the era of the diesels and I thought I would be alone or perhaps accompanied by the odd enthusiast or two yet when I made my way to my chosen vantage point there were dozens of people standing by the track. I could see down to Morpeth station and both platforms were filling up quickly.
I had no real idea when she was to arrive, it seems disrespectful to refer to her as it, yet a quick check of twitter meant I could track her as she made her way up form York to Scotland. She was on her way to a tour of the borders culminating in a visit to Edinburgh and a crossing of the equally iconic Forth Bridge.
More and more people joined us until there was quite a crowd and every time the road barriers came down a murmur of anticipation would ripple around. One after another a scheduled train would pass, the barriers would raise and the crowd would settle down again. High above us a helicopter was circling given us advance warning that something was certainly about to happen.
Ten minutes later than expected I saw the white plume making its way around the Morpeth curve. The driver had her in full steam as she accelerated north through the station. She would be with me in a few seconds and I had my camera positioned and ready. My heart was racing; I was going to be a few metres from one of mankind’s most beautiful creations when suddenly a Cross Country train appeared on the south bound track. It, definitely it, blocked my view and by the time it had passed all I could see was a rake of nut brown carriages and the famous green locomotive slipping into the distance.
Fortunately, she’s coming back up in June. This time I’ll stand by the up line.