Flying Scotsman is put up for sale
THE world’s most famous steam locomotive has been put up for sale due to delays in building a visitor centre in the Capital.
It is now feared the 80-year-old Flying Scotsman could pass into foreign hands after two American bidders expressed an interest in buying it.
A proposed 2 million Edinburgh visitor centre was planned for land at Waverley Station, scheduled for opening in Christmas this year.
The plans originally outlined a 25,000sq ft visitor centre, but Network Rail’s refusal to sign a deal forced the company to consider scaling down its plans so that the centre would sit on council property.
It is understood the loco’s owner, Flying Scotsman plc, now needs to sell the locomotive to pay off bank debts of 2m.
Former Tory MP Peter Butler, chief executive of the company, said today: "Naturally we are disappointed at this development, but we have been unable to make sufficient progress with the proposed Flying Scotsman visitor centre at Edinburgh."
He added: "This is the best way to ensure the survival of the engine on the main line, and to protect shareholder interest. This is not a forced sale, and we are confident the result will be in the interests of everyone involved with this magnificent example of British engineering."
The move was greeted with dismay in the Capital today.
Edinburgh’s festival and events champion, Councillor Steve Cardownie, said: "We were welcoming the prospect of a visitors’ centre in Edinburgh.
"The Flying Scotsman is an integral part of rail history and it would have been a huge attraction for visitors from abroad and across Scotland."
He added: "I am sure the sale will create a lot of international interest and would secure a sizeable sum and I would hope the locomotive would not be lost to foreign shores."
Completely rebuilt in the late 1990s, the Flying Scotsman was the first engine to achieve a speed of 100mph in 1934.
The loco company has officially instructed international property advisers GVA Grimley to sell the engine - or locomotive No 4472, as it is officially known.
The company had raised 275,000 towards the cost of building a visitor centre in the Capital which would have employed up to 50 people.
David Speight, partner with the plant and machinery valuation team at GVA Grimley, said: "We are delighted to be handling the sale of this distinguished example of British engineering excellence.
"We expect there will be considerable interest in ensuring locomotive 4472 remains in the UK.
"It is likely, however, that a number of bids will be received from overseas parties."
The A3 class loco was designed by Sir Nigel Gresley and built in Doncaster in 1923, remaining in main line passenger service until 1963.
It pulled the first non-stop train between London and Edinburgh in 1928, but was retired from service by British Railways in 1963.
It still sports the colours of the old London and North Eastern Railway in which it was made.
After being sold, the engine pulled packed special trains in the US before returning to the UK where it was bought by Sir William McAlpine in 1973.
For a time, music impresario Peter Waterman had a stake in the loco.
In 1995, the Flying Scotsman was in pieces and facing an uncertain future at Southhall depot in west London due to the huge cost of refurbishment necessary to meet the stringent engineering standards required for modern main line operation.
But it was saved by millionaire businessman Tony Marchington, who paid 2.25m to buy and rebuild the locomotive.
It was completely rebuilt between 1996 and 1999 and was returned to the main line with an oversubscribed "inaugural run" from London to York in July 1999.
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Tuesday 21 May 2013
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