The locomotive set two world records for steam traction, becoming the first steam locomotive to be officially authenticated at reaching 100 miles per hour (160.9 km/h) on 30 November 1934, and then setting a record for the longest non-stop run by a steam locomotive when it ran 422 miles (679 km) on 8 August 1989 while in Australia.
Retired from regular service in 1963 after covering 2.08 million miles, Flying Scotsman gained considerable fame in preservation under the ownership of, successively, Alan Pegler, William McAlpine, Tony Marchington, and finally the National Railway Museum (NRM).
As well as hauling enthusiast specials in the United Kingdom, the locomotive toured extensively in the United States and Canada from 1969 until 1973 and Australia in 1988/89. Flying Scotsman has been described as the world's most famous steam locomotive. In a 2015 poll which questioned people from four continents it was again ranked the most famous locomotive.
The locomotive was completed in 1923, construction having been started under the auspices of the Great Northern Railway (GNR). It was built as an A1, initially carrying the GNR number 1472, because the LNER had not yet decided on a system-wide numbering scheme.
Flying Scotsman was something of a flagship locomotive for the LNER. It represented the company at the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley Park in 1924 and 1925. Before this event, in February 1924 it acquired its name and the new number of 4472. From then on it was commonly used for promotional purposes.