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Flying Scotsman’s stopover at Grantham, October 1973

photographs by Humphrey Platts

On Monday 29th October 1973 No. 4472 Flying Scotsman stopped off at Grantham en route to a new base established by Flying Scotsman Enterprises at Market Overton in Rutland.  The locomotive was stabled overnight near the cattle dock on the Up side, south of the station.

The following day it moved on to Market Overton, via High Dyke, Stainby Sidings and Buckminster Sidings.  A Grantham crew was responsible for delivering the locomotive, with its short train, to the end of the British Rail tracks at Stainby Sidings: Driver Fred Burrows, Fireman Fred Harris and Guard Dennis Flear, accompanied by Assistant Area Manager Paul Needham.

A3 No. 4472 'Flying Scotsman' en route to Market Overton from Derby on Monday 29th October 1973.  This photograph was taken approaching Allington Junction, where the line to Sleaford and Boston diverges from the Nottingham to Grantham route.
Photograph by Humphrey Platts
A few seconds later No. 4472 has passed the level crossing and heads straight over the junction.  The line to Sleaford diverges left and can just be traced in the far left distance, passing a signal post and heading north east towards Barkston East Junction.  Allington Junction signal box is just off shot on the left.
Photograph by Humphrey Platts

No. 4472 was hauling two preserved vehicles:

A Bit of Background

In the early 1970s the British Steel Corporation (BSC) began the final rundown of ironstone mining in the area of South Lincolnshire, North East Leicestershire and Rutland.  An idea took hold to use the soon-to-be-redundant ironstone railways and their associated engineering workshops for a new venture.  The proposal envisaged:

  • an operational and maintenance base for preserved main line steam locomotives, linked to the East Coast Main Line at High Dyke;
  • a leisure amenity, including a museum of the ironstone industry and an opportunity for passenger rides on a few miles of former ironstone branch railway.

In 1972 a site at Market Overton in Rutland was occupied by Flying Scotsman Enterprises.  The following year, in Lincolnshire, track between Stainby and Thistleton and workshop premises near Sewstern were acquired from the BSC by the landowner, Buckminster Trust Estate. The Market Overton and Sewstern workshops were linked by former ironstone railways and a remaining section of the Midland & Great Northern Joint line, which had closed as a through route in 1959.  At Stainby there was a connection to the main line via the BR branch from High Dyke.  During 1972 and 1973 much activity took place as a collection of locomotives and rolling stock was assembled.

For various reasons the project failed to gather momentum.  Following the end of ironstone traffic British Rail was keen to remove the junction at High Dyke, to allow the main line to be realigned for high speed operation.  Its closure, on and from 6th October 1974, signalled the collapse of the scheme.  Flying Scotsman had already departed in March 1974.

The ironstone museum and railway element continues, however, through Rocks by Rail - the living ironstone museum at Cottesmore in Rutland, which is well worth visiting.

You can read more about the 1972-74 scheme in Eric Tonks' The Ironstone Quarries of the Midlands Part VIII South Lincolnshire, pages 61-67 headed The Preservation Experiment.

Arriving at Grantham

No. 4472 'Flying Scotsman' attracts attention as it draws into Grantham.  The area to the left, behind the fence, is the former Loco yard.  There's a second view of the train from the Western Platform at the top of this page.
Photograph by Humphrey Platts

On Show at Grantham

This photograph was taken where the locomotive was stabled overnight, at the goods wharf south of the station on the Up side. The cattle dock siding branches to the right in the left foreground. The siding the locomotive is standing on extended through a gate into Ruston & Hornsby's works.
Photograph by Humphrey Platts
You can just see that the name of No. 4472's new base, Market Overton, has been painted on the buffer beam at bottom left.  The concrete post in the right foreground once carried a loading gauge, a metal frame suspended over the track to ensure that traffic leaving the siding was safe to pass under bridges and through tunnels.
Photograph by Humphrey Platts
No 4472 “Flying Scotsman” at Grantham on Monday 29th October 1973.  This is a view from the cattle dock, which is clutered with signal and telecoms department hardware. The sign on the abandoned signal post reads 'TRAINS MUST NOT PASS THIS POINT WITHOUT PERMISSION FROM THE SHUNTERS'.
Photograph by Humphrey Platts
A3 No 4472 “Flying Scotsman” on 29th October 1973 at the goods wharf on the Up side, south of the station.  On the right, the end of the dock siding has hinged flaps for the end-loading of wagons such as carriage trucks.  Grantham Secondman (the diesel era term for fireman) Dennis Burgoine worked an overnight shift as 'night watchman' to maintain boiler steam pressure and water level.
Photograph by Humphrey Platts
Few people knew about this visit of No. 4472 to Grantham as it was not a public event, but a small crowd of well-informed admirers gathered.  A few paragraphs, and a photograph taken at High Dyke the following day, appeared on the front page of 'The Grantham Journal' of November 2nd 1973.
Photograph by Humphrey Platts
The nameplate received an extra polish.
Photograph by Humphrey Platts
...and the cabside gleams like a mirror.  Many a year had passed since Grantham lads last cleaned an A3 locomotive.
Photograph by Humphrey Platts

Up the Branch

There's a photograph of No. 4472 aproaching Skillington Road Junction here.

This photograph was taken from Moor Lane Crossing, south of Sewstern, on Tuesday 30th October 1973.  Approaching the crossing is a short train propelled by preserved BR Class 03 No. D2381. It is acting in a support role, carrying equipment in case there should be difficulty with the large main line express engine travelling over track which was built for industrial use. The plume of steam above the hedgerow heralds No. 4472 following up behind.
Photograph by Humphrey Platts
No 4472 'Flying Scotsman' and three preserved coaches en route to Market Overton approaching Moor Lane Crossing.  A Pullman Car had been picked up at either Grantham or High Dyke and is marshalled in the centre of the train.
Photograph by Humphrey Platts
A3 No 4472 “Flying Scotsman” en route to Market Overton on 30th October 1973, again at Moor Lane Crossing.  Ahead in the distance is preserved class 03 No. D2381.
Photograph by Humphrey Platts

The map below shows the route of No. 4472 after leaving the main line at High Dyke, 5 miles south of Grantham, until it reached Market Overton.

For the first part of the journey, from High Dyke to Stainby Sidings, the track was owned by British Rail. From there to Buckminster Sidings the track had been an ironstone railway. The mile travelled in reverse, west from Buckminster Sidings, used part of the old M&GN line which had been closed as a through route by British Railways in 1959. Finally, moving forward again, Market Overton Depot was reached.


This photograph was taken on a short section of the former Midland & Great Northern Joint Railway (M&GNJR).  No. 4472 had come down from High Dyke past Moor Lane Crossing to Buckminster Sidings, where it joined the old M&GNJR.  It is seen reversing towards Wymondham (note the flat bottomed ‘'main line'’ rail), before drawing forward along the sharply curving branch to Market Overton, seen on the left.  Two figures are standing near the branch junction and an industrial steam locomotive waits in the far distance.
Photograph by Humphrey Platts
No. 4472 leaves the short section of the former Midland & Great Northern Joint Railway (M&GNJR), drawing forward along the branch to Market Overton.
Photograph by Humphrey Platts

t Market Overton 4472 Flying Scotsman with BR staff for the High Dyke section of the trip Oct 73 J3472

Here is a photograph of No.4472 just after arriving at Market Overton.  In front is the Grantham train crew who delivered it safely from the overnight stabling point in the former Up side goods yard as far as the end of the British Rail tracks at Stainby Sidings, from which point a Flying Scotsman Enterprises crew took over.

Left to right: Assistant Area Manager Paul Needham, Driver Fred Burrows, Freight Guard (and former Loco fitter) Jack Wiley, Fireman Fred Harris, Guard Dennis Flear.

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5 thoughts on “Flying Scotsman’s stopover at Grantham, October 1973

  1. Jonathan Jarvis

    Just wondered if you had detailed track plans layout of Market Overton, Pains sidings, more photos from Humphry Platts. I volunteered, visiting 1973-1976 several times as part of a university group doing jobs - maintenance restoration laying track etc etc... Very fond memories of the freezing place at Easter for example, and people especially. But no camera of my own!

    1. TracksthroughGrantham1

      Hello Jonathan and thank you for your comment and queries.

      Sorry, we don't have track plans. Have you seen the 1:2500 scale map dated 1975 on the Old Maps website?

      For photographs have you seen David Ford's pages on flickr? There are links to them from one of our pages here. - see especially the 3rd, 4th and 5th links in the list.

      John Clayson

  2. jonathanJarvis

    Very many thanks indeed for map link and suggestions ....most helpful just seen it now! Yes, had seen Davids photos also IRS photos...had done a sketch plan sent you yesterday but probably put in tooooo many maybe's! My modelling imagination! Might be worth chasing up the 1964 and 1969 tours of people who worked there - Ray Towell, Bill Devitt, Pete Pickering. and probably people now at Rocks by Rail.

  3. Paul Needham

    I hadn't seen all these photos before but do have a few of my own. Unofficially there was another person on the footplate from Highdyke to Market Overton, sitting in the Fireman's seat with her hand on the regulator at times, & that was my wife.
    Our last footplate experience with FS was last year when it travelled North to Inverness with B1 61264 attached working a Steam Dreams special. That was the day it damaged a steam pipe & had to lay over at Inverness for about three days under repair.

    1. TracksthroughGrantham1

      Hello Paul,
      Thanks very much for your insight into the journey with 4472 to Market Overton and for telling us about the additional member of the footplate crew. We are in touch with Fred Harris, the fireman on the day, whose seat your wife occupied.
      Following its visit to North America which ended in such disarray it must have been a great relief to see FS back on the East Coast Main Line, even if only for the few miles between Grantham and Highdyke. It's had a chequered history since 1973 too of course, which at the time no-one could have imagined. Thankfully she seems to have had a period of stability since the major overhaul completed in 2016, and we're glad to hear that you are still able to enjoy the occasional footplate trip.
      Best wishes,
      John Clayson


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