Full Steam Ahead (2016) s01e04 Episode Script

Episode 4

(Steam train rattles) The Age of Steam shaped how we live today.
(Train whistle toots) The Victorians laid over 20,000 miles of lines in the biggest engineering project the country has ever seen.
Connecting our towns with high-speed links, revolutionising trade and transportation, communication and recreation.
It was the greatest transformation in our history.
But how did it happen? To find out, historians Ruth Goodman Flat out! Alex Langlands Shovelling coal is something I'm gonna get very familiar with.
and Peter Ginn It is tough work! are bringing the railways back to life, as they would have been during the golden age of steam.
I feel like I'm in a Western.
This is very definitely the best steam engine I've ever been on.
Oh, no, he's gaining on us! A brave new world.
They will be helped by armies of enthusiasts, who keep the Age of Steam alive (Grunts) (Blows whistle) on Britain's 500 miles of preserved railway.
This is the way to experience train travel.
It is.
They'll follow in the footsteps of the world's finest engineers These are the men that built Britain's railways.
those who ran it This is brutal! This is savage industrialism! and those for who life would never be the same again.
Internet, pah! It had nothing like the impact of the railways.
This is the story of how the railways created modern Britain.
The steam railways connected towns and cities right across Britain, revolutionising the transportation of goods, people, even information.
The way we communicate in Britain has never been the same since the arrival of the railways and I want to find out, first hand, how they transformed Britain's postal service.
In the second half of the 19th century, Britain was in the grip of an electrical revolution.
I'm interested in finding out how, practically, the railways facilitated this new age in communications.
Britain was becoming ever more connected.
The introduction of express trains like the Flying Scotsman meant people began to see themselves as belonging to one common culture, one economy, and, crucially, one nation.
Before the railways, most people in Britain thought of themselves as being from Galloway or Monmouthshire, or Derbyshire.
They didn't really think of themselves as being British.
But within a very short time of the railways arriving, that had completely changed.
How did we get to feel so connected? In 1800, the quickest way to send a letter was by horse-drawn mail coach, but it could take days to arrive.
As the population became more literate, the volume of letters soared, so what was needed was a quicker, more efficient way of sending mail.
In 1838, the introduction of mail trains provided a solution.
Letters could now be conveyed in hours rather than days.
This is all the post from Loughborough.
Nice little feature, a ramp down the stairs for sliding down the bags of post, in this case, or indeed any luggage.
I suspect it's every child's dream.
Although I've seen a sign saying, don't use as a slide.
At the Great Central Railway in Loughborough, Peter is bringing this postal service back to life, helped by a team of enthusiasts.
Right, last bag.
And we take it round there, do we? Peter's helping Paul Harrison load the mail collected from the local area.
- We'll go in this door here.
- OK.
We have to call out the destinations and they're logged in on the train.
Right, OK.
- So we've got Burton-on-Trent.
- Burton-on-Trent.
First, the post was roughly divided into sacks for the different areas the train was travelling to.
So you're looking at the labels on top there? - Coalville.
- Coalville.
- Coalville.
- Another Coalville.
- Burton-on-Trent.
- Burton-on-Trent.
- Derby.
- And Derby again.
So I'll get rid of this.
And then we can jump on board.
(Train whistle) At a time when the people of Victorian London could expect up to 12 postal deliveries to their homes every day, and the suburbs around six, speed was everything.
In 1936, the role played by the railways in speeding up the postal system was immortalised in one of the first documentaries on working life.
Night Mail.
It tells the story of the Postal Special carrying mail through the night from London to Glasgow, complete with a WH Auden poem.
"This is the night mail Crossing the border Bringing the cheque And the postal order Letters for the rich Letters for the poor The shop at the corner Or the girl next door Pulling up Beattock A steady climb The gradient's against her But she's on time " To make the service even faster, trains didn't just transport the mail.
They featured a new innovation.
The TPO.
Otherwise known as the Travelling Post Office.
Now the mail could be sorted on the move, too.
Derby! Leicester! Stafford! Each sorter has 48 pigeon holes, known as fillets, representing different towns.
The mail must be sorted before the train reaches its first destination.
TPO historian Brian Hallett is on hand to help.
It's a race against time.
So what do we do? - Do we just take the bundles? - Take the bundles.
And with your trusty scissors, you I left my trusty scissors at home.
Thank you very much.
And am I going stamps in, stamps out? Does it matter? Normally you do stamps out.
I didn't actually read that.
In its heyday, the TPO workers picked up, sorted and delivered 500 million letters a year.
These men were key to the efficient running of the country ensuring mail got delivered on time.
I suppose you must have got quite fast at this.
The TPO sorters were among the fastest sorters in the Royal Mail.
So they were known for sorting up to 3,000 letters an hour.
- Per person? - Per person.
3,000 letters an hour? That's 300 every six minutes.
One a second.
3,000 letters an hour is an immense amount.
I think I managed to get close to one a minute and (Chuckles) I suspect someone else is gonna have to re-sort what I've done because I kind of started losing track.
These were the postal elite.
They were faster, harder working and with the stamina to sort at speed against the clock.
But the people that worked on here, if you were doing the north-east TPO, and you were based in Newcastle, you'd travel down the first night on a passenger train and work back to Newcastle sorting that night.
The following night you would work from Newcastle to London, sleep over in digs during the day, and then you'd work the next night back to Newcastle.
It must have been quite a tight-knit bunch of guys.
Very much so.
Can you imagine working with a bunch of people in the same coach for five nights of the week? You've got to get on.
If you didn't get on, you didn't survive on the TPO.
Despite working at speed on a constantly moving train, there was no room for error.
And the sorters were responsible for making sure their fillets were empty when they finished sorting.
And the cleaners would go through after the shift.
If they found any letters, they'd get a bonus.
And that bonus would come out of the sorter's salary.
So you want to make sure they're fully clear otherwise the cleaner's taking home your money.
Once sorted, the letters for the first mail drop are tied into bundles.
Tying up the letters, pull the string all the way down? You pull the string down and cut off the length you need.
- Yeah, yeah.
- So these now go in here.
So now we need to tie that up, ready to go into the pouch to drop off.
So if you want to tie that on there.
Two or three times around with the string.
And these labels are the same as the bags we were loading on at the start, so that just tells you where it's going to.
- That's right.
- All right.
So that's got its label on, so that's ready to go into the pouch ready to be dropped off.
Down there.
That's getting off soon, isn't it? OK.
Right, listen up, take it away, sonny boy.
Righto, handsome.
The TPO didn't just deliver and collect from stations.
It also picked up and dropped off post at small towns and villages along the way.
Without the train even stopping.
The first use of this system was on the London-Birmingham railway in 1838.
Within 70 years, there were 245 in operation.
So the first thing to do is get these flaps over.
So you get a very neat package where nothing can come apart and you don't lose any of the mail bags.
Final one.
Imagine doing this all night long on a journey from Edinburgh to London.
OK, so this is a quite constant process.
I'm just getting worn out doing this one.
So there you have one mail pouch ready for dispatch.
Next, the mail pouch is attached to an arm on the outside of the train.
- Just pull? - Big strong pull.
Some workers were so terrified of doing this, they paid a colleague to hang the bags out for them.
Feels quite weird.
So you bring the bag to the edge.
Bring the bag to the edge.
Bring the arm in.
That flap just closes to stop it falling off.
You do find that they will come off, so we put a piece of string round it just as an extra safety so we don't drop the bag before we should.
Cos that would just be a nightmare.
If the bag falls off before the drop zone you've got to Well, how do you find it? Well, the people who are on the ground have to walk back up the track and find all the letters.
So the piece of string is an essential bit of kit.
It is, yes.
Further down the line, Ruth is getting ready for the TPO's mail to arrive.
Oh, I see.
And that's it, locked in place to collect the bags.
So they shoot in right there.
As the train passes through.
I wouldn't like to be there when the bags come off the train.
So the real thing is, stand well clear.
- Indeed.
- Right.
As well as mail pouches being dropped off from the train, they could also be picked up.
With help from TPO expert Phil Payne, she's preparing the mail ready for the train to collect.
They ain't light, these bags, are they? - No, they're not.
- (Chuckles) What I find interesting is how much they look like saddlebags.
They've still got that form from the old stagecoach days.
It's leather made, you know, by a saddler.
And there's a lot of work goes into these.
- It's all hand-stitched.
- Yeah.
There'd be no other way to do it.
Six layers in that.
So many of these older crafts, you know, carry on a life in the automated railways for donkeys' years.
You couldn't find anything else to replace that kind of quality of leather to do the job it's about to do.
I mean, like a train hitting that, it's gonna need to take some punishment, so they stuck with leather.
On the TPO, there's three minutes to go before the mail pick-up.
We've got the net, you push the top lever down, and then push the whole thing down in one smooth operation until it clicks in place at the bottom.
You only do that once we've called "board".
Then, after you've done the exchange, the mail bags will come in and we'll call "net".
And that's when you release it to bring the net back in.
And I can't practise this now, can I? There's no way you can practise it now.
You've only got one chance.
And that's as we are ready to do it, because we can only put the net out in safe locations.
So how many letters would be in one parcel like this? I should imagine anything up to about 1,000.
In weight, the bags will come about 60lb, 50lb of post.
So And the train hits it at full speed.
They're doing around about 70, 80 mile an hour.
If it ever went wrong, you'd be picking up letters down the track for weeks.
Well, that's that one done.
Got to get those up there.
Quite a weight, as you can see.
- Got it? Up we go.
- Yeah.
The leather pouches are attached to a stand by a spring clip.
It's not a one-man job, is it? Definitely not, no.
After word is received that the TPO is approaching, from the nearby signalman, the bags are swung out ready for collection.
Ready? On the mail train, there's less than a minute to go before the pick-up.
Peter is preparing to drop the net.
And are we in a dangerous area here? We're in a very dangerous area because this is the location where the pouches will come flying in once they hit the net.
So the faster the train's going, the harder they come in.
At 85 miles an hour, they could land anywhere from hitting the ceiling and onto the benches.
The mail was picked up and dropped off simultaneously.
On the Postal Special from London to Glasgow, these exchanges took place 34 times a night.
So the crew had to know the route intimately.
If the net is put out too early, it could hit a signal or a bridge, so the team looks for a trackside board indicating the exchange apparatus is approaching.
Do you want to get to the net? So this is the lever.
And you're going to say? We're going to shout "board".
- Put her out now? - No, no.
You want two bridges and 45 beats.
One two, now! (Train whistle) Board! Shall I go down, put it down now? So all the way down.
That's it.
It's in.
OK, net, net! - Well done.
- (Laughter) OK.
It's all right, we've still got a net.
(Laughs) And there you go.
Yeah, I see what you mean about vigorous.
Quite substantial, isn't it? Ohh.
It's remarkably physical.
For something as light as a letter.
PETER: My goodness.
That was a flash! Yeah.
All done very quickly.
It's almost like magic.
Suddenly these two parcels have miraculously appeared and, yeah, it's the mail ready to be sorted, I suppose.
- All ready to be sorted.
- We can't just stand around.
Get it out and get it back out to the next stop.
We need to get the lads working.
For over 130 years, TPOs worked across the country, picking up and dropping off mail.
But as trains got faster, the exchanges became more dangerous so in 1971, the service was scrapped.
On a modern train you can't even open the window these days.
It gets quite exciting.
Do many people fall out? They didn't have many accidents with the TPO crew.
It was more the driver and the fireman looking out when they shouldn't have done.
- To watch the exchange.
- And getting hit by the bags.
Standing up on the tender.
There's quite a few stories about firemen losing their head.
So it was quite a dangerous occupation.
Once the mail was collected, the process of sorting started all over again.
It was a never-ending cycle.
Even tea breaks were taken on the go.
Bill, first to Lincoln coming over.
- And again, Bill.
- Eddie, second one.
Another one.
The TPO crew ran from nine at night until six in the morning, and they had to eat, so they provided them with basic - and they are basic - cooking facilities.
Be careful cos it's hot.
Because they didn't actually have a meal break while they were working.
They'd carry on working, have their tea, a pie, and carry on sorting.
Do you fancy a pie? Thank you very much.
(Birdsong) Before the railways, few people travelled beyond their local towns or villages, so felt little connection with other parts of the country.
But the railways forced a change that was to finally get the nation working in sync.
The traditional way of telling time back in the medieval period was to use the position of the sun and a sundial, and it would have been watched by one of the church members, who would have come out and checked that sundial and when the time was right, he would have rung the bell.
And everyone would have heard that bell, known what time it was, what time to say Mass and what time to say prayers.
As the sun rises earlier in the east than it does in the west, cities across Britain could vary in time by up to 30 minutes.
In an age when the horse was the fastest mode of transport, the odd minute difference here and there didn't matter.
But once high-speed trains began connecting Britain's towns and cities, this became a problem.
London was four minutes ahead of Reading 11 minutes ahead of Bristol and 18 minutes ahead of Exeter.
Resulting in some very confusing timetables.
Something had to be done.
Alex has come to Bristol Corn Exchange to meet railway historian David Turner.
So what's going on up there? Well, actually, we have two minute hands on this clock.
The red one is London time.
- The dark one is Bristol time.
- Right, OK.
So that darker hand is ten minutes essentially behind the other red hand, which is reflecting the two different time zones.
Yeah, so when the railways came, this brought with it Greenwich Mean Time.
Because the railways needed everything standardised.
They needed trains to be meeting at the right places and for everybody along the line, all the staff, to have the same time.
Standardising time across Britain coordinated the railway network, allowing it to run more efficiently and making towns and cities more connected.
But some areas were resistant to change.
How are people here in the West of England reacting to that? They kind of feel the railway's invading them, the area.
There is a nickname for London time and it's called Cockney Time.
Right, OK.
It's a sort of kind of derogatory term for that time from over there, and the people are quite resistant.
So, apparently, in the commercial halls in Bristol, this gentleman stands up with his grandfather's pocket watch, and he argues, "If one hand was good enough for my grandfather, it's good enough for me.
" - Right.
- This is an invasion.
The other time is coming in, invading the area, and changing people's rhythms, their way of life, that's been in existence for well, centuries.
This was a time of change in Britain.
While steam was revolutionising how we travelled and communicated, a new source of power was being developed alongside it.
One that would change the world.
The first use of electricity was a revolutionary communication system.
The telegraph.
It allowed messages to be sent long distance down a wire instantaneously.
But to connect towns and cities, cables would need to be laid between them.
And with ready-laid corridors through the countryside, the railways provided the perfect routes.
(Bell rings) The railways themselves took advantage of this new system to ensure that a safe distance was maintained between trains.
- (Bell rings) - That's train entering section.
Signal boxes communicated the position of a train along its route using the electric telegraph.
And this is all using telegraph technology.
That's how you're communicating with the other signal box.
Through a series of bells relayed through telegraphs.
That's right.
At Milton Keynes Museum, Bill Griffiths is showing Alex how to use the first commercial electric telegraph to send Peter a message.
Developed by Cooke and Wheatstone in the 1830s, it took some getting used to.
Peter is at the other end of the line waiting for a message.
Can you show me how this thing works? Well, as you can see, you've got a range of letters there and you have to point to the letters by moving these handles in opposite directions.
So you have to spell out every letter.
Alex's telegraph machine is connected to Peter's by wires.
And moving switches on one moves the needles on the other.
The anticipation.
Right, OK.
So I'm going to send Peter a message.
So, M, so if I then go, Y.
My friend.
- There's no space bar here? - No.
I'm just watching these arrows.
They both point to F.
That makes an F.
In an age before telephones, being able to send instant messages, known as telegrams, was revolutionary.
But there were limitations.
There's no U.
And there's no C either.
We're missing letters here.
There are.
And I used to worry about that.
How do you send messages when you've got letters missing? C's important.
U is important.
It's a vowel.
We actually do it all the time, don't we? We send messages without certain letters.
And we get used to it.
In most occasions, if you left a letter out of a word or misspelt it - and they had this problem - people would understand by the whole message.
"Are receiving me?" He's obviously had a couple of drinks.
"Are you receiving me?" I think that is.
So let's see what comes through.
I B I before.
I before E.
(Laughs) "I before E" Oh, yes.
"I before E except after C.
" Always keen to pick me up on my mistakes, Peter, isn't he? Where is the T on here? Soon railways became the hub of communication, with telegraph offices to send and receive telegrams.
For the public, for businesses and even the police.
While criminals could make their getaway on a train, the fastest mode of transport at the time, the long arm of the law could now get there even faster.
There was the well-known murderer John Tawell, who was caught and he thought he'd got away with it, got on the train, got away, and they were able to signal from Slough to Paddington.
They couldn't telegraph his name, it wouldn't mean anything, but they were able to send a description of him and they recognised this fellow - or thought they did - getting off the train.
So you've got all the bobbies at the other end knowing what he looks like.
And that's how they got him.
Something we take for granted nowadays.
But unprecedented back in that time.
It was the beginning of making our whole lives much quicker and it's a road we've travelled on from then until now.
So everything has got speedier.
To start off with, it was just used as an emergency service.
I don't think it would be used every day.
But then business found out how useful that would be to get the information really quickly, so that took off.
And then for news, and then spread to be used in more and more different ways.
Every time I send an email I shall be thinking about this machine.
Cos this is basically where it all began.
Telegrams meant breaking news stories could be sent to newspapers in London's Fleet Street within minutes.
The Victorian age saw a boom in newspaper sales, thanks to the railway network that distributed them.
Printer Patrick Rowe is showing Peter how a newspaper proof would have been quickly assembled once news came through the telegraph system.
So you're putting it in upside down.
Yes, it's just easier to read from left to right, the way you normally would.
The letters are back to front, so when you ink them up and print them, they're the right way around.
It wasn't just the railways that boosted circulation.
In the 19th century, homes were increasingly being fitted with gas, or even electric, lighting, providing more time for reading.
Is that rubber or metal? It's zinc.
And the tones are produced by these dots.
The smaller the dot, the lighter the tone and the larger the dot, the darker the tone.
It's like you're doing this with bits of Meccano.
Sorry, what are these? So these are quoins.
These are the very old-fashioned type called Hempel quoins.
You can see what's going on, the two wedges.
And as you turn the key, it makes the wedges take up more space so it compresses the type.
- So it locks everything in.
- Locks it all up nice and firm.
So we put the type in.
So we'll have to ink it up and proof it.
Before the railways, newspapers had been a luxury item.
The Times cost five pence, a third of the daily wage of a station porter.
But when The Daily Telegraph dropped its price to a penny, in 1856, other papers soon followed suit.
- That's better.
- Ooh, that's good.
It's so crisp, isn't it? So, there you are.
The proof.
The proof.
And I would be taking this to? Somebody would need to check it before it goes together with the lines of type to put the whole pages together.
So "Flying Scotsman Breaks World Speed Record.
" So we just need to check the picture.
Oh, my goodness.
I can see the driver.
Although headlines were still hand-set, the body of text was set using state-of-the-art machinery then the proof finalised.
The newspaper was then ready for printing.
As newspapers became more affordable, circulation soared, driving a need for better printing methods.
By the 1860s, rotary printing presses, fed by rolls of paper five miles long, were able to print up to 12,000 pages per hour.
Newspapers could now be printed through the night and delivered to the railway station in the early hours of the morning.
This is news today (Thud) and it's chip paper tomorrow.
And that was only possible because of the railways.
Newspapers could be on sale in towns and cities all over Britain before breakfast.
For the first time, it was possible to wake up to national news hot off the press.
Inside the newspapers, readers were bombarded with adverts for goods and services.
From health pills, and skin creams, to job vacancies.
Even babies.
In Victorian Britain, having an illegitimate child carried a huge stigma.
But amongst the classifieds were adverts purporting to solve an unmarried mother's problem.
At a time before adoption and fostering laws, it was perfectly legal to hand your child over to whoever you wanted.
Even a complete stranger.
Social historian Dr Meg Arnot has spent years researching these adverts.
Tell me, why on earth are these very lovely-sounding adverts such a problem? OK, we have an advertisement here.
"Wanted, a child to adopt by respectable married couple who have no children of their own.
Premium required.
" It could actually be a genuine couple who have no children and they want to adopt.
But there is some code there that suggests to me that it might be something different.
They're saying they want a really quite significant premium of money to be handed over with the child.
That is, they want £30.
They will take a child if you pay them 30 quid.
We could well be talking about a baby farmer, a form of human trafficking.
The term baby farmer was coined in the 19th century to describe people who profited from taking on infants for a fee often with the intention of selling them on, deliberately neglecting them, or even to dispose of them altogether.
The railways made it possible for unmarried mothers to travel far away from the people they knew and hand over their child on a station platform, all the while remaining entirely anonymous.
The very last baby farmer to hang in Britain was Rhoda Willis, who died in Wales in August 1907.
So Rhoda Willis advertised for a child to adopt and someone very quickly answered her ad with a newborn baby, which she picked up at a railway station, along with £8.
And then she caught the train back to her lodgings in Cardiff, and then her landlady found the body in her room, and she also confessed to killing the child on the train.
- Gosh.
- Before she even got home.
Before she even got home.
And I have come across other cases where there are allegations that these infants were killed on trains.
So another, you know The darkest element of this.
At the worst end of it, an utterly cynical murdering trade.
What was most important to a woman with an illegitimate child who she was trying to get rid of was that it was kept secret.
Because her reputation was shredded by having an illegitimate child.
And the railways provided that secret environment.
Somewhere for nefarious activities almost of any sort.
A new place, rather paradoxically.
A new place for crime.
It is no different from the internet.
The internet is an amazing thing, this flow of information and communication across the world, but part of the information that flows - Is criminal.
is criminal.
As the 19th century progressed, new railway lines, funded by entrepreneurs, began to spread to every corner of Britain.
Initially there was little coordination in building these new routes.
But gradually they began to be linked up, making long-distance rail travel possible.
Linking Scotland and England were two competing routes.
The West Coast line and the most celebrated, the East Coast line.
The most famous locomotive to work this route has just undergone ten years of restoration, costing £4.
5 million.
The Flying Scotsman, the most iconic steam engine of all time.
I mean, look at the size of those wheels.
They're phenomenal, aren't they? Railway companies on the West Coast and East Coast lines were competing to provide the quickest service.
To do this, they needed ever more powerful locomotives.
So in 1923, one of the greatest engineers of the age, Sir Nigel Gresley, gave us the Flying Scotsman - the first locomotive to officially reach 100mph.
The journey from London to Edinburgh had taken ten and a half hours.
Now, behind the Flying Scotsman, it took just eight.
Rail operations manager Noel Hartley is prepping it to go back out on the main line.
Hi, Noel.
Great to meet you.
The Flying Scotsman service travelled between Edinburgh and London but this locomotive enabled a non-stop service, is that right? That's right.
It had a few features to enable it to do that.
So it had enough coal to get from London to Edinburgh or vice versa.
Which was nine tons.
The loco also needed a huge amount of water.
It could carry 5,000 gallons.
But that just wasn't enough.
To prevent it having to stop to refill, there was an ingenious solution.
Water troughs were put between the rails along the route.
By lowering a scoop into the trough, the Flying Scotsman could collect an extra 12,000 gallons of water without stopping.
Another issue was crew fatigue.
Normally a driver would do four, five, six hours on a shift but because it was going to be an eight-hour, nine-hour journey they needed to change the crew half way, so they invented a corridor tender.
Mainline steam engines pulled a tender where the coal and water were stored.
But this meant the driver and fireman were cut off from the rest of the train.
Gresley's inclusion of a corridor through the tender meant the crew could now pass from the foot plate to the carriages behind.
- Can we go down there? - Of course you can.
Let's go and have an explore.
Tight squeeze there, Peter.
Sure you're all right? I've been laying off the doughnuts, Alex.
- Look.
- My goodness, look at this! The introduction of a corridor enabled the Flying Scotsman to make the first ever non-stop service between London and Edinburgh in 1928.
It's Sir Nigel Gresley who designed these engines.
He It just emphasises the genius of the man.
And he really pushed the engines to push the boundaries of speed.
He did.
By using a simple innovation of a corridor.
Swapping crews half way meant the job of looking out for more than 700 signals and shovelling nine tons of coal could now be shared.
So we're getting to see parts of the Flying Scotsman that other enthusiasts can't reach.
There's one other innovation that made the Flying Scotsman once the world's fastest locomotive.
But to get to it, you have to go under the engine.
And what you need to do is find something to hold on to and pull yourself up between the frames.
- Don't break anything.
- I'll try not to.
Including yourself.
Steam engines conventionally had two cylinders.
But Gresley's Flying Scotsman had three cylinders, enabling it to run more smoothly with greater power.
There we go.
Ooh, raining oil.
And then you basically pull it open.
- Ooh.
- Whoa.
There's quite a bit.
This is one of the dirtiest jobs on a steam engine - cleaning out the smoke box.
If there's a dirty job needs doing, Noel, Peter's your man.
Although once the pinnacle of engineering, the Flying Scotsman is at its heart a steam locomotive, still requiring long and complicated procedures to get it up and running.
It isn't a case of just turning an ignition key and starting it.
- There's quite a warm-up phase.
- There is a warm-up phase.
You've got around a 24-hour period of gently warming the engine through.
Before you even light the fire, you check inside the firebox to make sure nothing's leaking.
So can we have a look in the firebox? Yeah, you can.
Just lower yourself down and slide in there.
Get reminded of Winnie the Pooh doing this.
Oh, my goodness.
You can just feel the residual heat here.
When was the loco last running? Three days ago, so it's still reasonably warm.
- Yeah.
- Wow.
It's amazing the heat coming off of this, three days later.
My goodness.
This is what I imagine hell is like before they light the fires.
Lovely and warm in there, it really is.
Oh, dear.
Once the firebox has been checked, it must be loaded up with coal.
You've got to do it in one swing.
So start from there and then round and straight in.
Right, OK.
You don't get the momentum otherwise.
Here he goes.
And - Ooh! - (Laughter) Without breaking the shovel, ideally.
- It's a small hole.
- It is a small hole.
I'm amazed we got through that.
(Groans) At this rate, we won't get her out of the station.
That's it.
Near the fire hole door until it gets burning properly.
You need to throw it on top of that coal at the front.
Whoop! There we go.
- The fire is in the firebox.
- We have fire.
OK, so the fire's going quite well now, so it's time to put a little bit more coal on top.
My go.
Oh, well, the pressure's on now.
Yeah, put your money where your mouth is.
Ooh! (Laughter) Revenge is a dish best served cold.
OK, so is it all right if I put some on now just so it goes in the right place? - Yeah, go on, then.
- That's great.
- Watch the master at work.
- Yeah.
You can see why, in order to graduate into a mainline loco, you had to work your way up.
You had to work your way through the shunting, the branch line, the whole shebang.
Well, all the oiling as well, you know, knowing all the component parts.
So that you're all prepared and trained to take on a piece of technology which is effectively the Concorde of its age.
Keeping passengers, goods and mail services running across the rail network, created a whole new array of jobs.
The railways employed a workforce of half a million.
From engine drivers and firemen engineering crews boilermakers through to guards (Blows whistle) signalmen and porters.
But none of the trains could run if it wasn't for this one job.
(Taps wheel) (Dings) The wheel tapper.
There is a ring there, isn't there? OK.
It was the job of the wheel tapper to check the wheels before each journey.
(Dings) In the case of the Flying Scotsman and its carriages, it would mean tapping over 120 wheels.
A cracked wheel, like a cracked bell, does not sound the same as one in good working order.
- (Dings) - They do not ring true.
- That rings quite nicely.
- That's nice, isn't it? That's ringing like a bell.
Could hear it echoing down the rail.
Yeah, that's right.
This one.
- (Clank) - Hmm.
- No, that's not so good, is it? - No, it's not quite.
Doesn't ring quite like the other one.
But I don't think you would see the crack.
- Unless it was really obvious.
- Right.
It might be just a hairline crack somewhere.
So that is the point of the tapping, to find things you couldn't see with the naked eye.
But the old wheel tappers would be tuned to that.
They'd know exactly how far they could go.
That was an entire job, wasn't it? - Wheel tapping.
- That's all they did, yes.
Rob Stinchcombe is showing Ruth how defects were recorded on a form and clipped onto the wagon.
If it was a serious fault, they'd put a red card, which means it's totally out of - Out of use.
out of traffic.
If a faulty wheel caused the train to break down or derail, the network could come to a standstill, delaying goods, passengers and mail.
So damaged wheels had to be sent to the workshop for repair.
Wheels such as those on the Flying Scotsman are composed of a wheel pan and a separate steel tyre.
It meant that if the tyre cracked or wore out, the whole wheel wouldn't need replacing.
At the South Devon Railway workshop, Ruth is helping engineer Richard Elliott fit a new tyre to a train wheel.
First the tyre is heated to make it expand.
- This is the tyre itself.
- That's the steel band.
That's the tyre itself.
And this is just a fire all the way round it.
A gas fire, in this case.
Basically, you've got about the same as your cooker or grill.
Oh, my goodness.
So, yeah, just a series of flames.
So all you are doing is warming her to about 220 degrees.
- Right.
- Gas mark 8, for you.
Gas mark 8.
(Laughs) For about 25 minutes.
How do you know when it's cooked enough? Well, basically she'll go a nice golden colour all over.
And the modern technology gives us things called Tempilstiks, which are basically waxes that melt at specific temperatures.
The other method of doing it, more Victorian for you, was basically to spit on it.
So will it do any harm if I try the spit? Try.
Yeah, give it a go.
See how hot it is.
- (Spits) - Oh, I missed.
My spitting is rubbish.
We'll be getting you a glass of water.
I am hopeless.
Oh, you're much better at it.
Oh, look at that bubble jump.
- See the bubble jumps.
- Yeah.
We're after a bit hotter yet.
- So we're not quite there yet.
- We're not quite there.
Although some modern elements have been introduced, the method is the same as in the Age of Steam.
So obviously our crayon is saying we're hot enough.
- Right.
- And if we can spit on it So it just hits and forms into a ball and skits around on it.
So we're probably about hot enough.
- Okey-doke.
- So let's go for it.
Let's switch her off and fit her in.
Once the tyre is expanded, the wheel pan is inserted.
The tyre must fit within a 1000th of an inch of the wheel diameter.
- Jeepers.
This is so accurate.
- Well, it's close.
The tyre is pressed, and as it cools, it shrinks onto the wheel pan.
- Excellent.
- It's on.
- It's on.
- Well done.
That was really exciting.
Thank you.
You made it look so calm and professional but I am pretty excited, actually.
Good, that.
It's good, that.
Right, cup of tea.
Railway special.
In the days of steam, the bigger the driving wheels, the faster the loco could go.
On small locomotives, the wheels are around three feet in diameter.
But the Flying Scotsman's wheels are more than double this size.
It was a locomotive built for speed, a racehorse of the locomotive world.
With the loco now in full steam, it's ready to recreate the legendary route connecting London and Edinburgh.
Don't make them like they used to, do they? - No.
- Because they're swish.
It's actually named.
ALEX: Travelling in style, isn't it? We here? Are we on here? In here? Good stuff.
With rival railway companies competing to attract passengers, the range and quality of services they offered was of paramount importance.
Head steward Kieran Flynn is training Alex in the exacting standards expected by first-class passengers back in the 1930s.
Do we know when this started, then, serving food on trains? The first meal served on a train was 1878.
And the papers at the time reported that the food was all lovely and that even though the train was travelling at 60mph and the brakes were applied, nothing was spilt or broken.
They were quite impressed by that at the time.
So I've got quite a lot to live up to today.
I feel that's not going to be the situation for me today.
Kieran is showing Alex how to lay a table for a five-course dinner.
- Our main plate here? - Yep, that's right.
Our salad plate goes on top here.
- Yep.
- OK.
And our side plate there.
- That's correct.
- To the left.
Now, cutlery.
So, right-hand side with the knife, so, starter knife on the outside, main knife inside.
Working in towards the main course.
And then these - Grape scissors.
- Grape scissors.
Right, this really is fine dining, isn't it? So if you had a bunch of grapes and needed to get through the stem, that's what they're for.
And they sit just there.
Now, Kieran, providing service in style in a regular restaurant is hard enough.
But how hard is it doing it on a train that's doing 60mph? It can be quite tricky.
The main thing is just to not fight it.
Because if you try and fight against it, then you'll slam into the walls a bit hard.
So be prepared for it and just try and bounce off whatever you land on.
And walk with your legs slightly wider apart.
- Sometimes helps as well.
- Right, OK.
So a bit of a gait.
Sort of sea legs in some ways? It's like having good sea legs.
In the 1920s and '30s, the Flying Scotsman was the pride of the nation.
First-class passengers were expected to dress smartly.
Even Peter's made an effort.
- Peter.
- Oops.
- Oh, my goodness.
- Yeah.
- On a railway powered by steam.
- Powered by steam.
How long are you going to stay white? Long enough, because it's only for dining.
I'm not intending to go up there and shovel it.
Not particularly happy, Ruth.
Word on the grapevine, we've got a trainee waiter.
I've got my sea legs.
My gait.
Watching where I'm going.
To serve food on a swaying train without spilling it, waiters were blindfolded and trained to walk along a white line on the carriage floor as the train speeded along.
(Ruth laughs) Ooh! Oh, it nearly went! PETER: It is quite a bumpy ride.
This is quite rocky-rolly.
Are you all right? Can we go on this? Can I have the salmon up as well, please, and the soup.
We're into a station in 15 minutes.
I need to have these customers fed.
Head chef Tony Keen is challenged with cooking high-quality restaurant food in a tiny kitchen at over 80mph.
How many meals are you preparing on a train like this? On average, we're doing around 250 diners across the different classes.
- 250 diners.
- Yeah.
We cook a lot of the meals to order.
There's 250 people and we'll do 1,500 plates of food today.
Individual plates of food.
Which all have to be washed by hand by my guys down there.
On the other side of the wall, there is a pot wash.
The water slops all over the place.
The crockery gets broken.
I just buy some more.
With space limited, early Victorian dining cars had an open-air veranda at the kitchen end which was used for jobs like peeling potatoes.
Inside, the food was cooked on an open fire.
You're cooking on gas, though.
Imagine what it would have been like cooking on coke.
I can't imagine.
The soot, the mess.
Respect goes out to those guys.
We have operational issues along those lines but not as hard core as it would have been done in the past.
It would have been a proper workhouse in those days.
In 1925, passengers on British trains consumed over 7.
5 million meals.
On long distance journeys there were up to three sittings.
Tables could be reserved by telegram.
- Ooh, wow.
- This looks good.
- That was inevitable.
- They get the food hot! A bit of a hot potato, that one, wasn't it? The first Pullman dining cars, designed by American engineer George Pullman, were made in Detroit workshops and shipped to Britain.
But the Flying Scotsman didn't just cater for diners.
They also tempted passengers with other luxury services from a cinema to a hairdressing salon.
Passengers could also listen to music on headphones.
For the business traveller there was even a dictaphone service.
We've both dressed up for this experience.
Do you think most of the people who were doing this for real, were also, you know, the well-heeled, the well-dressed? Well, London and Edinburgh were the two largest cities in the British Empire.
Certainly in terms of finance.
So it was such an important connection.
And being able to communicate easily and quickly between business people must have been absolutely a godsend and you can just imagine the whole train, can't you, buzzing with really important conversations, as well as with people off on their hols to the Highlands of Scotland.
The Flying Scotsman is crossing the Royal Border Bridge.
The gateway to Scotland.
But in the restaurant car, there's a crisis.
The kitchen is running low on salmon.
Modern trains have the ability to call ahead to the next station to stock up on supplies.
But not in the age of steam.
We're down to our last couple of salmon.
And there was no way of communicating from the Flying Scotsman, or indeed any train in the period.
So if you wanted to get some more salmon and potatoes, or, indeed, if something had gone wrong on the train and you needed to get a message out, you had to write it down, rip off the note, and then if you had your handy potato, you could make an incision in the side fold it up, slip it in, and as you passed a signal box, throw it out.
That potato's gone to the signal box.
That signal box will telegraph forward and when we reach our next stop, our supplies will be waiting for us.
Gooseberry jelly.
Would you like some jelly? (Ruth cackles) I knew you would.
I'm terribly sorry, sir.
I'm terribly sorry.
I'll just go and get some cream.
For the first time in nearly two decades, the Flying Scotsman is arriving in Edinburgh.
That was great, wasn't it? That was absolutely awesome.
The Flying Scotsman enabling communication between Edinburgh and London.
Journey of a lifetime.
(Bagpipes play) (Train whistle) Wow.
We have just gone from London to Edinburgh on the Flying Scotsman.
This linking up of Britain at such speed, you really get that sense for being one country? It's a sort of galvanising of a nation that the railways afford us, isn't it? Not just through the ability to travel at speed but also through things like the telegraph.
If you don't have the telegraph, you don't have instantaneous messaging, therefore you don't have news, so to speak.
And then you get the transportation of all that news out from the big publishers to every corner of the country.
And then you can write to people about the news you've read.
And that goes on the mail.
- Yeah.
- It's quite amazing.
When you think, in our own lifetime, changes that we've seen because of the digital revolution.
You know, this internet revolution.
We can back-project those and we can see all those same elements.
We can really understand what it must have been like for people to move from that sort of pre-railway age - everything in your life is very localised - to this sudden zoom of connecting up.
Very global.
Once you've got it, you forget how you lived without it.
That's very true.
You see people's lives change utterly.
It's still a remarkable achievement, though, London to Edinburgh in the speed we did today.
And in the style that we did today.
Yeah, well, speak for yourself.
Next time We see how branch lines revolutionised trade We did it! turning Welsh wool into a world-renowned business putting Scotch whisky on the map This is a bit like being on a pogo stick in a sauna.
and making Devon Britain's biggest producer of milk.
This is the railway milk industry at its source.