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Built in 1923 for the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) at Doncaster Works to a design of H.N. Gresley, it was employed on long-distance express trains on the LNER and its successors, British Railways Eastern and North-Eastern Regions, notably on the London to Edinburgh Flying Scotsman train service after which it was named.
The British Rail Class 47 is a class of British railway diesel-electric locomotive that was developed in the 1960s by Brush Traction. A total of 512 Class 47s were built at Crewe Works and Brush's Falcon Works, Loughborough between 1962 and 1968, which made them the most numerous class of British mainline diesel locomotive.
The London Midland and Scottish Railway's 8F class were originally designed for hauling heavy freight in response to a shortage of powerful freight engines on the LMS. Such was the success of the design, that on the outbreak of the Second World War, the 8F class was chosen as the country's standard freight locomotive design.
The first class 5 locomotive was built for the London, Midland & Scottish Railway in 1934 to the design of Sir William Stanier. The new locomotives when built left the railway works in the standard mixed traffic black livery which soon earned them the nickname "Black Fives" for which they are still affectionately referred to today. The locomotives were capable of handling both express passenger and freight trains and were spread far and wide across the UK railway system. By the time the last Black Five was built in 1951, the class numbered 842 locomotives; one of the most numerous classes of British steam locomotives ever built.
It was named after the then newly-formed Union of South Africa, although it had previously been allocated the name "Osprey" on 17 April 1937, when it came out of the paint shop on 29 June. "Osprey" name plates were fitted to the locomotive during the 1980s and early 1990s due to the politics of the time. Its name has since reverted to Union of South Africa. The works number of Union of South Africa was 1853; the plaques are located in the cab itself and not on the exterior cab sides as is the usual practice.