Tuesday 28 February 2023

Centenary of the Flying Scotsman Locomotive - 9 March 2023

In 2023, the British locomotive Flying Scotsman is 100 years old. A national treasure of engineering and design, it can be admired on tour or at the National Railway Museum in York, conjuring up the golden age of steam travel.

In February 1923, the steam locomotive that became the Flying Scotsman, built to a design of Nigel Gresley, emerged from the former Great Northern Railway (GNR) works at Doncaster.  Initially known as No. 1472, this locomotive was the third of the ‘A1’ class to be built – and the first for the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER). The ‘A1’ was an entirely new type of locomotive. Trains of this period had become heavier, following the introduction of more luxurious corridor carriages (with toilets) and restaurant cars, and required more powerful locomotives.

By 1924, locomotive No. 1472 had acquired a new number (4472), smart embellishments to its green livery, the crest of the LNER on the cab side and the name Flying Scotsman. (The locomotive was named in honour of the express train service that had run on the east coast route between London and Edinburgh since 1862, and this has caused confusion ever since with other locomotives bearing the headboard The Flying Scotsman.) 

In 1928, Gresley began to modify the A1s into an improved version, the Class A3. Flying Scotsman emerged as an A3 on 4 January 1947.   In 1946, the locomotive was renumbered twice by Gresley's successor Edward Thompson, who devised a comprehensive renumbering scheme for the LNER. 4472 was initially assigned number 502 in January, but an amendment to the system led to its renumbering as 103 four months later. Following the nationalisation of Britain's railways on 1 January 1948, almost all of the LNER locomotive numbers were increased by 60000, and 103 became 60103 that December.

The locomotive set two world records for steam traction, becoming the first steam locomotive to be officially authenticated as reaching 100 miles per hour (161 km/h) on 30 November 1934, and then setting a record for the longest non-stop run by a steam locomotive when it ran 422 miles (679 km) on 8 August 1989 while in Australia.

The stamps

Set of 8 stamps to mark the centenary of the Flying Scotsman locomotive, 9 March 2023.

The photographs and acknowledgements: 

1st class: No. 60103 at Pickering Station on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, 2016, Allstar Picture Library Ltd/Alamy Stock Photo;
1st class: The ‘Christmas Dalesman’ steam special in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, 2019 © John Bentley/Alamy Stock Photo;
1st class: The ‘Cathedrals Express’ crossing the Ribblehead Viaduct in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, 2017 © John Bentley/Alamy Stock Photo;
1st class: steaming through the town of Blyth in Northumberland, 2016 © Alison Leddy;
£1.85: in a blizzard at Heap Bridge on the East Lancashire Railway, 2016 © Alan Padley;
£1.85: The ‘Cathedrals Express’ excursion crossing the Royal Border Bridge at Berwick-upon-Tweed, 2016 © Ian Rutherford/Alamy Stock Photo;
£1.85: at London’s Victoria Station, 2002 © PA Images/Alamy Stock Photo;
£1.85: close-up at Shildon, County Durham, 2019 © Clearview/Alamy Stock Photo; 

Unfortunately all, except one (Victoria Station), of the photographs used for the stamp issue are after its major restorations, when on enthusiasts tours, and none reflect the period when it was actually in service with the railway system. This postcard from the Alan Pegler period shows it still numbered 4472; still not in normal service but at least it shows the number than many people know. 

Picture postcard, Alan Pegler's privately preserved LNER No 4472
Flying Scotsman leaves Edinburgh Waverley with an enthusiasts special.


The Miniature sheet

Flying Scotsman Centenary miniature sheet showing railway posters 9 March 2023.

1st class: ‘Scotland by the Night Scotsman’ poster, artwork by Robert Bartlett, 1932 ©National Railway Museum/Science & Society Picture Library;
1st class: ‘LNER train service to and from Scotland’ advertisement, designed by HL Oakley, 1923 © HL Oakley/Mary Evans Picture Library;
£1.85: ‘Edinburgh: Mons Meg’ poster, artwork by Frank Newbould, 1935 © National Railway Museum/Science & Society Picture Library;
£1.85: ‘Refuelling the Flying Scotsman’ poster, artwork by Frank Newbould, 1932 © National Railway Museum/Science & Society Picture Library;
Border featuring Pickering train station: wall © imagespace/Alamy Stock Photo and bench © Neil Setchfield, UK/Alamy Stock Photo.

Flying Scotsman licensed by SCMG Enterprises Ltd; Flying Scotsman® and designs © SCMG Stamp designs © Royal Mail Group Ltd 2023. 

Technical details

The stamps and miniature sheet, designed by Steers McGillan Eves, are printed by Cartor Security Printers in lithography with PVA gum.  The 50 x 30 mm sheet stamps are printed in four sheets of 60 in se-tenant pairs, perforated 14.  The 41 x 30 mm stamps in the 146 x 74 mm MS are perforated 14.5 x 14.

All the miniature sheets in the Press Sheet of 15 have barcodes in the illustration we were provided with.

Prestige Stamp Book (click on the images for enlarged versions).


Pane 1: the 4 x 1st class special stamps
Pane 2: the 4 x 1st class £1.85 stamps
Pane 3: the miniature sheet stamps in the same order but with a background showing the inside of a railway carriage
Pane 4: definitive pane with a £2 and 3 x 20p Machin definitives coded M22L MPIL.  This pane is printed in lithography.

The monochrome cover image, showing the locomotive numbered 4472, is of the special edition PSB.


Set of 8 stamps, miniature sheet, 2 x FDCs, stamp cards (12), presentation pack, press sheet, prestige book, limited edition prestige book, coin covers (one with coloured £2 coin, although described on some publicity material as a 50p coin, one with a silver proof, one with a gold proof), framed set, framed miniature sheet, framed prints (4): 1st class Blyth, 1st class Ribblehead Viaduct, £1.85 Blizzard at Heap Bridge, close-up at Shildon.

In celebration of turning 100 in February 2023, Flying Scotsman will take part in various events between March and December including static displays, runs on the mainline, and visits to heritage railways. A special 100 Years, 100 Voices exhibition will be held at the National Railway Museum. The collectable £2 coin included in the coin covers was produced by the Royal Mint.

As usual we will not be stocking these products, they can all be obtained from the Royal Mail website and ordered from 2 March.


  1. A bit disappointed but the mini sheet stamps reflect the 20's 30's period when Flying Scotsman was 1st seen. I am sure that someone in RM with a bit of nous could have contacted The Railway Museum at York for some early photos they must have 1000's

  2. Having had Presentation Pack No. 629 for X-Men, we now have Pack No. 628 for the Flying Scotsman. So that solves the out of sequence, missing Pack No.

    1. Chris,
      Might these two issues have been swapped around to avoid the ghastly irrelevant X Men stamps being the very last Elizabethan ones ?

    2. Yes, I think you might be right

    3. It's an explanation that make sense, except that you credit Royal Mail with more sensitivity than I would!

    4. Except that the Flying Scotsman issue has had a lot of media coverage as the final one to feature the late Queen's head (it made the BBC 6pm news for example). Maybe RM realised that having X-Men as the final issue wouldn't go down so well with the general public. I don't think that suggests sensitivity, but a hard-nosed "what looks best for us?"

    5. Of course; I don't why my cynicism deserted me on this occasion. ;-)

    6. It should be mentioned that the 100 years of the Flying Scotsman was on 23rd of February so a stamp release in February would have been more accurate than one in March.

  3. The website is already taking orders today (28 February). I've already placed mine. What is Royal Mail coming to, when it is issuing a handsome set of stamps about a UK icon, instead of a set featuring Mickey Mouse?

  4. I think the stamps are gorgeous: at last - Royal Mail has issued something I don't cringe at! I would have liked a few older images of the Flying Scotsman, but the images chosen are beautiful in their own right. The miniature sheet touching on travel posters is a lovely addition.

  5. The stamps can be ordered as of today on the RM website

  6. It's a bit like Triggers broom, how much of the current locomotive is original? Its been rebuilt extensively due to various issues. It would have been nice to have some of the 'in service' images to give some balance.

  7. Any sense of the Barcode Machins? The £2 will be new, but the 20p has featured before. Is it much the same or will it warrant a new listing? (I was hoping to put the Barcode Machins to bed soon so want to plan how I mount them in my album).

  8. I wonder if they swapped the X-Men and Flying Scotsman issue so that the last ER II issue was more classic and British than an American comic.

  9. This is another issue where I've really liked the minisheet - possibly even more than the main issue! - but really wish those stamps were available as singles. Non-philatelic used examples must be like hens' teeth.

    1. Definitely... as many post offices won't get in the commemorative stamps, and then when you do find a post office with the stamps, you might be able to buy one (or if lucky, two) miniature sheet(s) as that is all they'll be sent.

  10. After some horrendous years on the life front it is so good to come onto the interweb and find that old friends and web sites have not been lost.

  11. I love those miniature sheet stamps. Not so much the main stamps though. I guess my Machin collection is going to close with the £2 barcode Machin from the PSB then?

  12. Ah some stamps to commemorate the "Flying Moneypit". Yes they look nice, but they should have gone for some more older photos.

    1. Anonymous all it would have taken was for someone in RM to call the National Railway Museum in York and they would have been sent hundreds.

  13. I got these stamps from "Edinburgh" yesterday just two days late and unusually in just one envelope not two or three for stamps, miniature sheet and PSB.
    On the Despatch Note I noticed a third column, not just "Price" and "Line cost" but between them "Discount" which for all three items was £0.00". I'm not aware of RM offering discounts to Standing Orders customers, only I think to Dealers who I believe get the PSB panes at face value rather than paying the £1.65 surcharge for the full book.

  14. As with all the other PSB's the definitive pane is described in the book as being printed in Gravure, this proved incorrect with the X men issue those being Litho, any news Ian on whether the definitives are Gravure or Litho

  15. Does anyone know who printed the PHQ cards?

  16. There are 13 stamp cards, the MS gets one of its own

  17. Hi Ian
    I seem to recall some while ago seeing a reference to different screening on the 20p MPIL M22l ex PSBs DY45 Tutankhamun (parallel screening) and DY47 Flying Scotsman (hatched screening). Did I dream it or can you or any of the readers point me to it. Thanks in anticipation!


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