Under her own steam

The Flying Scotsman, which was up for auction, has been rpeserved from foreign buyers and saved for the nation. She will now live at the National Rail Museum in York and will, thankfully, also be kept in working order so that she can still pull special trains on mainline operations. Probably the most famous steam locomotive in the world – and a remidner of a time when British railways not only worked properly (unlike today) but were the most advanced in the globe – it is nice to know that she will not be a mere Museum exhibit. Although it is good to see such historic heirlooms preserved for future generations to marvel at, there is something terribly sad about knowing they are now only static exhibits in a museum; the technologicial equivelant of stuffed and mounted animals in a natural history exhibit.

The day before another travel machine was being prepared for museum life here in Scotland: Concorde. She is too large for roads or rail and will come by barge (this early version was stripped for spares for the later ones and so no longer flies) and will be stuck until the required Thames tide comes in to float her to East Fortune near Edinburgh and the Museum of Flight. Unlike the much older machine above she cannot move under her own power anymore and will simply be a static display.

Both machines encompass the finest marriage of British technological, engingeering and artistic skills of the time and both were amazing feats. Now both are museum exhibits. It’s especially sad for me to see Concorde, surely the most graceful, powerful aircraft ever made mounted as a museum piece. She was the future once and now she is history. It is a great irony that she must take over a week to travel from near London to Edinburgh when she could cross oceans in a couple of hours while a much older steam engine happily chuffs to it’s museum location in a few hours.