AWARD-WINNING film-maker David Parker will present an illustrated talk about the world-famous Flying Scotsman steam locomotive, at Swindon Arts Centre tonight.

It took a year of blood, sweat and toil to rebuild the steam engine from its stripped down frame till its first time back on the track. Mr Parker followed the rebuilding for an ITV film, charting the struggles of the team of engineers hired to put the fire back into the Scotsman.

His film charts the challenges and triumphs of the team of men and women who brought the beast back to life and had it running again, in the words of the foreman Colin Green, like a sewing machine.

“I grew up in Crewe. Home to a steam engine called The Royal Scot, the great rival of Flying Scotsman,” Mr Parker said. “I used to watch it roaring through my home town pulling the ten o’clock from London Euston to Glasgow. So imagine how I felt, making a film about our great adversary. Was I betraying my past, going over to the other side, or just growing up?”

Flying Scotsman enjoyed its heyday in the 1920s and 30s, holding the world speed and endurance records and even starring in its own feature film. But when technology moved on, the engine was threatened with the scrap heap and was saved no fewer than three times, by three millionaires.

It proved no easy task to renovate the engine, as each time the team peeled away rust and decay, they found more rust and decay – some so bad they had to cut off the front end of the locomotive and rebuild it from scratch.

During his presentation at the Arts Centre, Mr Parker will talk about how he made the film, show some clips from it, and some from the film archive of the train in action. He will also explain how he persuaded Robson Green to present the programme.

Mr Parker will screen some rare film of the Crewe Works in the 1930s, and black and white film of men building a pacific steam locomotive similar to Flying Scotsman, showing in dramatic fashion the fire, heat and power that went into forging one of these huge machines.

He will also share some of his own triumphs and frustrations during the making of the documentary. The evening will conclude with a screening of the whole 50-minute film.

“I came to Bristol to work in adult education and was lucky enough to change direction 12 years later when I started making television programmes,” he said.

“I love the West Country and over the years have made many films which celebrate its characters, its history and its landscape.”

He said that being asked to make a film about Flying Scotsman was the opportunity of a lifetime.

“One I seized with relish,” he explained.

“If only the making of the programme had been one of unadulterated joy. But that’s the subject of the evening’s illustrated talk.”

The event begins at 7.30pm and tickets cost £14.50, with concessions available. To book, call 01793 524481 or visit