Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Flying Scotsman at Mid-Hants Railway's Watercress Line relaunch

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Media captionThe Flying Scotsman arrived at Alton station for the line's official reopening

The reopening of a heritage steam railway has been marked by a visit from the Flying Scotsman.

Mid-Hants Railway's Watercress Line was shut at Alton, Hampshire, for almost a year while Butts Bridge was replaced.

The record-breaking Flying Scotsman locomotive travelled along the full 10-mile (16km) line as part of an event to celebrate its official reopening.

Trustee Liam Kenchenten said the engine's visit was a "really exciting" event for the volunteer-run line.

While the bridge was being replaced, trains could only run to three of the line's four stops and could not be run in to Alton Station.

Image copyright Mid-Hants Railway
Image caption Local schoolchildren gathered in Alton to see the Flying Scotsman

The works which finished in December were originally expected to take nine months but overran due to problems with its Victorian foundations.

Mr Kenchenten said the Flying Scotsman's first visit to the line was a chance for visitors to see an "icon of British engineering".

"It's the most famous locomotive in the UK - it's really exciting to have it here and its a great flag bearer for heritage railway lines in general."

Image caption Work to replace Butts Bridge in Alton overran

The line was known as the Watercress Line as it was used to transport watercress from Hampshire farms to sell in London in Victorian times.

It closed in 1973 but was fully reinstated under the Mid-Hants Railway in 1985 and attracts more than 125,000 visitors a year.

Image copyright Getty Images

Flying Scotsman facts

  • It was built in 1923 at a cost of £7,944
  • In 1934 it became the first locomotive to make an official 100 mph (160 km/h) run
  • It was retired from service by British Rail in 1963
  • It underwent a £4.2m refurbishment between 2006 and 2016 and returned to the mainline
  • The locomotive's number is 60103

Source: Flying Scotsman

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