Kirkstall Forge: Flying Scotsman flies through West Leeds


West Leeds has been treated to a rare appearance by iconic locomotive the Flying Scotsman, writes Jill Buckley.

Journeys are not publicised until near the time to try to deter trespassers on the track and potential safety issues caused by the over-enthusiastic.

But as soon as the information was shared on Facebook and Twitter that morning news quickly spread about the special visitor.

Many made their way to Kirkstall Forge station, which opened to the public in June, and others waited at various points along the Leeds-Shipley line in West Leeds.

Flying scotsman Kirkstall Forge Leeds
Flying Scotsman Photo: Steven Sutcliffe

The Flying Scotsman, designed by Sir Nigel Gresley, was built in Doncaster, having been completed in 1923, and was given its name after the London to Edinburgh rail service.

It was retired by British Rail in 1963, when steam engines were becoming unfashionable, and in 1969 toured America.

It became stranded there when anticipated sponsorship could not be found, but was rescued in 1973 by William McAlpine, and in 1993 Pete Waterman, of Stock, Aitken and Waterman fame, bought a 50% share.

In 1996 businessman Tony Marchington bought the Flying Scotsman outright for £1.25 million, but in 2004 there was another crisis of ownership until the National Railway museum stepped in and campaigned to save the locomotive for the nation, helped by a National Heritage Memorial Fund grant and a Heritage Lottery Fund Grant.

Kirkstall-Forge-station sign

Now fully restored the engine is back on the tracks and everyone from the most keen train enthusiast to the casual observer has been keen to catch a glimpse of it in full working order.

Local resident Nikki Crick took her daughter Kiki to see the legendary engine pass through our area. She said:

“We watched from the footbridge. Kiki wasn’t too enthusiastic until she saw the steam then she got really excited!”

Most people managed to get a good view of the engine as it flew past but some were impeded by the arrival of a Northern Rail train to Shipley which arrived at almost the same time as the Flying Scotsman, prompting several witty remarks regarding the train actually being on time!

Many thanks to Steven Sutcliffe for his lovely photos of the train coming into Kirkstall Forge station.

These were also published on the Facebook group Leedsface.


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