The Flying Scotsman, The Flying Scotsman and The Flying Scotsman
Three Flying Scotsmen
A better title for this hub might have been Three Flying Scotsmen but as one is a huge steam locomotive, one a racing cyclist and the other a pretty doubtful pub, it wouldn't seem right to lump them together.
The Power of Steam
The First Flying Scotsman
This Flying Scotsman has to come first because without it the other two might still have come into being but almost certainly by different names. This Flying Scotsman was one of the great British steam locomotives and the pride of the LNER fleet (London & North Eastern Railway). Completed in 1923, it was the first steam locomotive officially credited to have reached 100 miles per hour. In spite of the name, it was built in Doncaster, England, but gave most of its 40 years service on the London-Edinburgh route, taking only eight hours for the journey of just under 400 miles. The Scotsman was decommissioned, or retired (a much nicer term), in 1963, just five years before British Railways abandoned steam services forever. The locomotive has been restored to its original state and its preservation by enthusiasts at the National Railway Museum is an ongoing project.
The Power of Spirit
The Third Flying Scotsman
Two years after our first Flying Scotsman was retired, our third (chronologically) was born. Graeme Obree had these things in common with the great locomotive: that he was born in England but adopted by Scotland, that he was also a World speed record holder, and of course that he was dubbed the Flying Scotsman for his achievements. Graeme Obree was a racing cyclist specialising in time trials, racing against the clock. He twice held the World record for 'the hour', that toughest of velodrome events where the cyclist covers the maximum possible distance in 60 minutes of unrelenting effort and pain. Obree achieved 52.713 km (almost 33 miles) in his second record breaking hour. Obree's achievements are all the more remarkable for his absolute refusal to use drugs, even at the cost of his team place in the Tour de France, and his frequent run-ins with petty officialdom and their arbitrary banning of his innovative aerodynamic riding style. Graeme Obree is still riding and still inspiring his followers with his dedication and prowess.
The Power of Beer
The Second Flying Scotsman
The second Flying Scotsman has a claim to being the first, in that it has been around, as a railway pub hard by Kings Cross, longer even than the locomotive. However it changed its original name from Scottish Stores to Flying Scotsman in honour of the hissing monster, acknowledging the natural pecking order and no doubt hoping for some spin-off custom. In spite of the name change, this old pub has no identity crisis. This Flying Scotsman is a rough and ready East London strip joint. Drop a pound in the pint pot, sir, It's not pretending to be a night club or a sophisticated (read hypocritical) 'gentlemen's venue'. Whatever the girls may put on their CVs, they are strippers, not 'exotic dancers', or at least they are while they're working the Scotsman. There's no pole, no mirror wall, no disco lights. Thank God for no mirror wall. If in doubt, visit the Red Fox in Whitechapel and tell me what you think of the greasy buttock prints on the back wall. And because the Scotsman has no such airs, it has something better - a sense of humour. It's ridiculous. We all know it's ridiculous. So we can all have a laugh and a beer together, with the girls.