THE fascinating story behind the world's most famous locomotive is to be told in a permanent exhibition in York, thanks to lottery cash.

A Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £275,000 is to help pay for an interactive display on Flying Scotsman at the National Railway Museum (NRM).

The project, due to be completed in April next year, will allow visitors to continue enjoying journeys behind the Scotsman, while learning about the rich history of the locomotive.

The new Flying Scotsman gallery and exhibition mean museum visitors can view the locomotive as it is being prepared for journeys, as well as including objects that link to its past, such as drawings, models, uniforms and videos, allowing them to explore the technology and people that drove this powerful British icon.

Few people realise that when the train originally ran, it provided a hairdresser's salon and cocktail bar for its passengers, and the exhibition promises to reveal more about its fascinating past, illustrated by stories about the loco's designer, Sir Nigel Gresley, passengers, crew and owners.

Displays will also use the latest webcam technology to deliver real time footage, allowing those who log on the chance to share the experience of a live operating steam locomotive.

Most importantly, the cash will also make sure Flying Scotsman is kept in working order to carry out its annual trips.

Jon Ingham, NRM head of fundraising, said: "This is fantastic news and it cannot be underestimated in terms of its importance to the British people.

"It is of great significance both to those who helped us save Flying Scotsman for the nation, and to all those who will have the opportunity over the next ten years, to encounter the locomotive up-close-and-personal, themselves.

"The challenge now is to create an exhibition that engages with visitors while the locomotive is in residence and equally when steaming through the countryside."

John Watson, chairman of the Heritage Lottery Fund's Yorkshire and the Humber committee, said: "This grant is what lottery funding is all about - opening up our much-loved heritage for everyone to enjoy and understand.

"Flying Scotsman really can be described as 'the People's Engine', and it's wonderful that it now resides in Yorkshire, its birthplace. This new exhibition will tell its fascinating story and make sure it and the National Railway Museum, remains one of our regions most popular visitor attractions."

The total work on Flying Scotsman and the exhibition will cost £1.4 million, some of which is being funded by Yorkshire Forward.

The Heritage Lottery Fund and Yorkshire Forward have pledged the majority of funds towards the project.

The shortfall is expected to be met by income generated from corporate supporters and by public donators, who have already donated nearly £25,000 to the Keep Scotsman Steaming appeal.

Updated: 08:49 Tuesday, June 21, 2005