Fitness battle for torch-bearing Flying Scotsman

AN appearance of Flying Scotsman at a steam fair next month has been called off to ensure the historic locomotive will be fit to take part in celebrations for the Olympics.

The iconic locomotive was set to be one of the star attractions alongside the Mallard at the ‘Fab Four’ steam gala at Derbyshire’s historic Barrow Hill Roundhouse but has suffered further delays in its restoration.

Yesterday the National Railway Museum (NRM) revealed it would not be ready in time for next month’s event without seriously risking its chances of carrying the Olympic torch.

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The museum’s director Steve Davies said: “We are extremely saddened at the unavailability of Flying Scotsman for the event. We have engaged with colleagues at Barrow Hill closely over recent months and hitherto confidence levels were high. But bringing the locomotive to working order in time for our deadline of Railfest and the Olympic torch is my highest priority and unfortunately I could not afford to risk not meeting these commitments.”

It is the latest in a string of delays to the restoration since it was bought for the nation, mostly with public donations, in 2004.

An NRM spokesman stressed, however, they are determined to complete the project in time for the Olympic celebrations.

The steam gala’s organiser, Alexa Stott, said they would continue to put on the best event possible despite the setback.

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She said: “It brings a tear to your eye how supportive everyone has been. The situation with the Flying Scotsman and the amount of time it has taken is a well known one. The NRM is still supporting us by sending other engines, but the critical link will not be with us.

“Obviously everyone is very disappointed but we will still have a line-up which has not been seen for many years.”