Sir Peter Luff

 

 

Speaking at the ceremony to welcome Flying Scotsman back to York and the National Railway Museum 25th February  2016

 

As a GWR man, today at an LNER event, I am an impostor.  But a very happy one on this great day for British engineering and for the City of York.

I was born and brought up in the shadow of Windsor Castle, where the Great Western Railway met the London and South Western Railway, where Western Region met Southern.

My steam memories, then, are of Collett tank engines hauling the branch line train to Slough, and of his King Class locomotives heading royal trains  - and, indeed, of Bulleid’s Merchant Navy Pacifics at Waterloo.

It was the work of the GWR’s engineers, civil and mechanical – of Brunel, Gooch, Churchward and Collett - that inspired my passion for engineering.

Indeed, it was one of Churchward’s locomotives, City of Truro that first….   Today it’s probably best I don’t finish that sentence.

It may be God’s Wonderful Railway, but it is unarguably true that the two most famous locomotives of the twentieth century were both designed by Sir Nigel Gresley. For the LNER.

I remember standing here in awe in 1988 for the reunion of three of the surviving A4 Pacifics, Bittern, (disguised, I think, as Silver Link), Sir Nigel Gresley, and, of course Mallard – the fastest steam locomotive in the world.  The occasion was the fiftieth anniversary of her record-breaking run.

But, even despite the Hogwarts Express (a real-life GWR Hall Class) the most famous of all is Flying Scotsman. If one locomotive embodies – no, personifies – the nation’s love affair with steam traction, it is this one.

In this glorious A1 Pacific, Nigel Gresley built both a great and beautiful beast of power and speed, and a wonderful engineering memorial to the glory days of the nation’s railways.

And that is why it is so appropriate that, back in 2004, the National Heritage Memorial Fund stepped in with just over £1.8 million to help save the Scotsman for the nation.

And that’s why it was right for the Heritage Lottery Fund to follow this up with a grant of £275,000.

To help prepare the Scotsman for mainline operations, and to meet the challenge of interpreting the rich heritage of this engineering icon.

To ensure that future generations could marvel at her beauty and power – and, I hope, learn about the impact that locomotives like her had on our society and our economy.

And best of all, to inspire a new generation of engineers.

That’s why, as Chair of both the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Heritage Lottery Fund I am so pleased to be here today.

To celebrate with you the return of this renowned locomotive to active service  - and to its home here at the National Railway Museum.

The National Heritage Memorial Fund was set-up in 1980 to save the most outstanding parts of our national heritage that are at risk. It does so as a memorial to those who have given their lives for the country.  

It’s funded by an annual government grant and, is in a unique position to provide financial assistance for the acquisition, preservation and maintenance of a surprisingly wide range of heritage treasures.

From great icons of engineering to great works of art. From wildlife havens to important manuscripts.

The preservation of the world’s most famous steam locomotive is a perfect example of the value of the Fund.

The Heritage Lottery Fund, HLF, also supports a wide range of projects, many of which, I’m delighted to say, seek to preserve, share and celebrate the wonderful heritage of British engineering.

Thanks to National Lottery players, HLF has been able to award over three and a half million pounds to the National Railway Museum alone.

We’ve also helped in the preservation of over ninety railway locomotives and trams and in securing the future of many preserved lines.

Over the last 21 years HLF has invested well over a billion pounds in the UK’s unrivalled industrial, maritime and transport heritage - and every penny of that is thanks to National Lottery players.

Lottery players like me, and, I hope, you!

I’m sure those Lottery players would wish me to offer warm congratulations and deep thanks to everyone involved in this project.

I’m delighted that both the Memorial and Lottery funds have helped you to get Flying Scotsman where she is today - and where she belongs. 

On her very own mainline and in steam.

The people’s engine.