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The Flying Scotsman pays another Flying Visit to Sussex.

By Lyn Funnell

The Flying Scotsman, probably the world’s most famous steam locomotive, paid a special centenary visit to the Bluebell Line recently, in August.

Tickets were sold out almost immediately.

Built in Doncaster, it went into service on 24th February, 1923, 100 years ago.

In 1928 a corridor was added, making it possible for a new crew to take over without stopping the train and on the 1st May that year it travelled non-stop for the first time from London to Edinburgh, knocking eight hours off the journey time.


Flying Scotsman (with no ‘The’ used) reached 100mph on a special test run in 1934, proving that steam power could reach high speeds.

Since its Retirement, it has travelled around the world, attracting a large admiring audience wherever it’s gone.

From 2006 Flying Scotsman underwent a £4.2 million restoration and it became a working museum exhibit, becoming the oldest mainline working locomotive on the UK’s rail tracks.

The Train’s last visit to the Bluebell Line was on a freezing cold day in April 2018. We watched it go past from Sheffield Park to East Grinstead, billowing a cloud of smoke behind it. And then we watched it chuff past travelling in the opposite direction, with all the passengers waving out the windows! A memorable sight.

This time, it wasn’t cold, but oh, did it rain!


Luckily we were quite well-sheltered under the trees in the Wild Boar Campsite, at Horsted Keynes. And there was sunshine in between the heavy showers.

We had an excellent trackside view of the trains going by. It wasn’t just the Scotsman running as the Bluebell Line trains were running as usual. So we were entertained by passing trains every half an hour or so. (They travel from Sheffield Park to East Grinstead and then they travel back again.)

The Toot Toot sound just after it passed was so exciting. And it was followed by the lovely smell of the steam wafting behind the train.

At the end of its visit, the Scotsman spends a few days in the station and tickets were on sale for people to to go onto the locomotive to look inside it.

Granddaughter Isabella, aged nine said, ‘People going to London are all grumpy with their heads down, staring at their laptops, but people on steam trains are all happy and waving out the window!’

Yes, the Flying Scotsman makes a lot of people happy, wherever it goes.

If you want to stay nearby to visit the Bluebell Line Railway, or watch the trains passing, the campsite address is