A six-year-old train fanatic’s dream came true as he took a ride on the Flying Scotsman on Saturday when it passed through the area.
Harry Cowley’s interest in trains was sparked when his great aunt, Caroline Osbourne, who runs Glendale Junction model railway shop in Deeping St James, bought him a wooden train set for his first birthday - and he has been obsessed with them ever since.
On Saturday Harry, of Rippingale, hopped aboard one of his favourite locomotives, the Flying Scotsman with proud mum Jen at Peterborough railway station on a journey which took the pair on a trip to York. It stopped at Stamford and Oakham stations on the way.
And kind staff even allowed the train-mad youngster to go into the driver’s compartment and stand on the footplate [where the driver and fireman stand] and was given a piece of coal to take home with him as a reminder of his special day.
Jen, who bought Harry a ticket for the journey as a present for his sixth birthday earlier this year, said: “It really was a dream come true, I don’t know what I am going to do for his seventh birthday.
“The staff were brilliant. They were all really nice. Even the volunteers were amazing.”
The Bourne Abbey Primary Academy pupil has a collection of dozens of models trains, including Bachmanns and LGBs and several train sets.
He has an encyclopedic knowledge of trains and spends lots of his spare time train-spotting near railway tracks in the area under the supervision of Jen and his dad James.
Harry has also visited the National Railway Museum several times and Nene Valley Railway.
Jen explained that Harry is obsessed with trains and spends his days thinking about them.
“He is train mad. Even when he is at school in the playground he is running about playing trains. He starts singing about trains too, he will make up songs,” she said.
“He has never been interested in anything else.”
Jen added that Harry, who brought his school’s mascot Barnaby the teddy bear on the Flying Scotsman trip, would not be able to follow his passion for trains without the help of his dad who has helped pay for his collection.
When they arrived at York, Harry and Jen visited the National Railway Museum where they set eyes on the Mallard 75 - which holds the locomotive steam train world record at 126 mph.
The Mallard holds a special place in Harry’s heart as it is one of his favourite trains and despite being aged six he is adamant he will restore it and put it back in service one day.
And the youngster wasted no time in telling staff at the museum his plans.
“He wants to get the Mallard back on the tracks.
“He was telling the staff that when he does they can come and work for him!” Jen said.
Rippingale railway station is one of Harry’s favourite places to visit. The station is no longer in use or open to the public but has been refurbished by its owner Marc Maitland, who allows Harry to visit because he supports the youngsters passion for trains, and the two have become firm friends.
And when Harry entered the driver’s compartment of the Flying Scotsman, the driver gave Harry a piece of coal to give to Marc after the kind youngster told him he wanted to bring him a souvenir.
Harry spent much of his journey waving to people who had gathered to watch the Scotsman pass.
l For reader pictures of the Flying Scotsman passing through the area see page 84.