Simon is going loco on TV for 90th birthday of 'cursed' Flying Scotsman
ONE of the world's most famous locomotives with close links to the county will celebrate its 90th birthday in a new television documentary on Monday.
The chequered history of the record-breaking Flying Scotsman is being brought to the small screen by former Blue Peter presenter and now documentary maker Simon Groom, of Dethick.
The famous engine, one of the finest examples of British engineering, was built in 1923 by Derbyshire engineer Sir Nigel Gresley, who was raised in Netherseal and is buried in the village cemetery.
Making the film was a labour of love for Simon, who has a great affection for steam locomotives and, in particular, for the Flying Scotsman.
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He said: "I had the idea for the film a long time ago but it was only recently that I was able to pitch the script and a taster film to the BBC.
"I am the associate producer of the programme and worked with director David Parker to pull the whole thing together. Doing this has really been a dream come true."
The documentary concentrates on the locomotive's history over the past 50 years. In 1963, the A3 class Pacific engine was heading for scrap.
At the 11th hour, it was bought by multi-millionaire Alan Pegler for £3,000, effectively kicking off the start of steam preservation societies across Britain. But the locomotive bankrupted Pegler, following a disastrous trip to the US with the Flying Scotsman in 1969.
There were fears it would not return to the UK but, in 1972, construction magnate Sir William McAlpine rescued it and took it to Derby Locomotive Works to be overhauled and refurbished.
As it journeyed there through Buxworth, 17-year-old Tony Marchington watched it pass and 22 years later he bought the locomotive for £1 million. He spent the same again restoring the engine but after 10 years was having financial difficulties.
Public donations and Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson stepped in to save the Flying Scotsman for the nation. It is now at the National Railway Museum in York but there are intentions to run it again.
Simon said: "The Flying Scotsman has a special aura of romance but she also seems to be cursed. She's also a record-breaker:
"She was the first steam locomotive to travel non-stop from King's Cross to Edinburgh in 1928 and the first to travel at 100mph in 1934 – an incredible speed at the time.
"It's fascinating to think that some viewers' grandfathers may have overhauled the Flying Scotsman at Derby back in the '70s. The programme contains rare footage from over the years."
The Flying Scotsman: A Rail Romance will be shown at 9pm on BBC2 Monday