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The Flying Scotsman returns to Kings Cross Station – 25th February 2016

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One of the most famous steam trains in the world will return to Kings Cross Station for its inaugural run since returning back to service following a £4.2 million refit.

The Flying Scotsman will be sporting its new BR green livery as it makes the run between London Kings Cross and York. The locomotive will go up the East Coast Mainline, its flagship route to return to its home at the National Railway Museum.

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The Flying Scotsman was the flagship locomotive of the new London & North Eastern Railway (LNER), designed by renowned engineer Sir Nigel Gresley and built at Doncaster Works in 1923. The locomotive was named after the express train service between London and Edinburgh, and quickly became famous with a series of promotional stunts and public appearances. It achieved a series of speed records including in 1934, being the first locomotive to achieve an authenticated 100mph run.

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Despite its superstar status, in the Second World War, the loco’s previously iconic number 4472 became 103, and like the rest of the LNER fleet, it hauled heavier loads, was maintained less regularly, and was painted in Wartime Black. After the war, the steam engines was considered largely obsolete and were replaced by new diesel locomotives. The Flying Scotsman like many other steam locomotives were taken out of service and designated for the scrapyard.

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At the last minute, the famous locomotive had a reprieve when she was sold to enthusiast Alan Pegler in 1963. Flying Scotsman was restored and set off on a three-year tour of the United States which ended in Pegler facing bankruptcy, fortunately British businessman Sir William McAlpine arranged for the locomotive to return to Britain. Another overseas tour was organised, this time to  Australia, when the steam train smashed the world’s non-stop steam record, travelling a remarkable 442 miles in 1988 and became the first locomotive to circumnavigate the globe when it returned from Australia to the UK via Cape Horn.

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In 2004, the Flying Scotsman hit the headlines again with another ownership crisis which led to a campaign headed by National Railway Museum to save the locomotive for the nation. Since 2006, Flying Scotsman has been undergoing an extensive restoration in the workshop of Riley & Son (E) Ltd. As the restoration process is now finished, all eyes will be on one of the world’s most famous locomotive when she returns to London for the inaugural run, the journey from London Kings Cross leaves at 7:40am on 25 February 2016, arriving at York at approximately 12:30pm.

The National Railway Museum will welcome the Flying Scotsman locomotive home with two exhibitions opening in March, the locomotive will also be back on the tracks throughout 2016 when it will haul special tours across the UK.

For more information or book tickets, visit the Flying Scotsman website here

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Kings Cross Station, Boudicca and Harry Potter

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King’s Cross station is one of Britain’s major railway terminus  with high speed inter-city connections to destinations in Yorkshire, the North East and northern and eastern Scotland. King Cross is tied closely to St Pancras sharing the tube station on the London Underground network.

King’s Cross was built in 1851–1852, the main design was by Lewis Cubitt of the well known Cubitt family which was based on two great arched train sheds, with a brick structure at the end. In contrast to the ornate and decorative St Pancras, King’s Cross station was built to be based on efficient functionality.

The heyday of Kings Cross was between the 1930s and 1960s when it was the terminus of the high speed lines from Scotland and the North.  Some of the most famous steam trains of the time, the Flying Scotsman, Gresley and the record breaking Mallard steamed into King’s Cross.

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In 1972, a new frontage containing a passenger area and ticket office was built to the front of the station, although considered to be temporary, it was still there 40 years later. In 2005, a £500 million restoration was planned that would return the original roof to its former glory and restore the Grade I-listed façade of the original station.

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A new concourse was built to facilitate movement around the station and a piazza on the front of the original façade.

The opening of the restored Kings Cross and St Pancras are part of a massive regeneration of an area that had a less than attractive reputation in the last 30 years.

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As well as its place in railway history , King’s Cross is also known for two very different reasons, one of the oldest legends related to Kings Cross was related to Roman times when the area was supposed to be the scene of a battle between Boudicca’s Iceni tribe and the Roman Army. This has led to the a series of stories that the Ancient Queen is buried under platform 9 and her ghost stalks the station.

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A more recent phenomenon related to Kings Cross is the Harry Potter novels by J K Rowling, according to the books Harry and his friends depart from the fictional Platform 9¾ on the Hogwarts Express to go to Hogwarts School.

King’s Cross have entered into the spirit of Harry Potter by creating a fictional Platform 9¾ which has a luggage trolley  impaled within the wall, which is a mecca for  Harry Potter fans for photographs.

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There is also an Harry Potter shop nearby to buy your Harry Potter merchandise.

Kings Cross perhaps does not have the gothic splendour of nearby St Pancras but is worth a short visit to understand another style of Victorian Railway architecture .