You can take the boy out of Crewe, but you can’t take Crewe out of the boy. My weekend jolly in Lancashire inadvertently became a trip down memory lane when locomotive no.60103 eased majestically into Heywood station at the end of the East Lancashire Railway (ELR) line.
The iconic Flying Scotsman has recently enjoyed an extensive £4.2m refit at Riley & Sons in Bury. Originally built in Doncaster in 1923, it is ultimately destined for York and its permanent berth at the National Railway Museum. Ahead of that, thousands of lucky enthusiasts caught sight of the magnificent piece of engineering from numerous vantage points during a series of short test runs in early 2016.
Over the weekend of Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th January, several journeys were completed along the Rawtenstall-Bury-Heywood route that makes up the twelve miles of the ELR. Heywood was the perfect spot to see the Scotsman in its black wartime livery. Fashionably late, if only a few minutes, plumes of smoke signalled its arrival. For a few moments the quaint station platform resembled a scene from the 1930s, the decade that witnessed the loco smash the 100mph barrier.
Only the whine of a hi-tech drone taking aerial footage shattered the dreamy moment as the driver brought around 100 tons of engine to an elegant halt. Volunteers busied themselves along the track, allowing a hasty uncoupling to reposition the Scotsman ahead of the return to Bury. It was a magical close-up, seeing old-school railwaymen in action, pulling leavers, checking valves and waving flags. For a few moments a middle-aged man become a young boy again.
The Flying Scotsman will run between Kings Cross (London) and York in February 2016.