As the Flying Scotsman roared through Luton recently, it brought back fond memories for Luton senior citizen Reg Freeman.
Reg, 89, of Stopsley must be one of the few people alive who actually worked on the iconic locomotive that first entered service in 1923.
Edinburgh-born Reg recalled long hours as a railway fireman during the latter period of World War Two.
He said: “The whole train was called the Flying Scotsman, not just the engine, and during the war we ferried troops who’d arrived at Waverley station from the north of Scotland to London and on to various ports to do their duty.
“Getting steam up was hard work, especially the section from Edinburgh to Newcastle which entailed a very steep hill near Dunbar.
“Once, in spite of our heroic efforts, the temperamental engine would not fire up and troops were delayed by several hours.” The former Luton postman and great-grandfather of 12 said there were crew changes at Newcastle, York and Grantham before the Flying Scotsman steamed into Kings Cross.
> The Flying Scotsman was built in Doncaster and was the first locomotive of the newly formed London and North Eastern Railway (LNER). It was clocked at 100mph on a special test run – the first locomotive in the UK to have reached that speed – and retired in 1963.
It has recently undergone an extensive restoration in a £4.2m project to bring the legend back to life, resplendent in its BR green livery.