It’s now 30 years since The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust was formed to build a new Peppercorn class A1 ‘Pacific’. The original A1s were built by British Railways in 1948/49, however all were scrapped by 1966. The last survivor No. 60145 Saint Mungo was the subject of a failed preservation attempt which left the final development of East Coast Main Line’s famous steam locomotive classes unrepresented in preservation.
The formal launch of The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust was held at the Railway Institute in York on 17th November 1990 where it was announced that the 50th Peppercorn class A1 would carry the running number 60163 – the next in the sequence. The organisation was established with a clear mission: “To build and operate a Peppercorn class A1 ‘Pacific’ steam locomotive for main line and preserved railway use.”
After 18 years of construction and fundraising – with the support of principal sponsor William Cook Cast Products Ltd – the £3 million locomotive was completed in August 2008. Tornado was named by TRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall at York station in February 2009 and in April 2017 became the first British steam locomotive to reach 100mph for 50 years.
Since completion, No. 60163 Tornado has steamed over 100,000 miles the length and breadth of Great Britain. Following her unveiling in works grey, Tornado has worn all of the historic Peppercorn class A1 liveries – apple green, BR locomotive green (with emblem and crest) and BR blue. In celebration of the Trust’s 30th Anniversary, Tornado is being temporarily returned to the BR locomotive green livery of No. 60145 Saint Mungo which inspired the organisation’s formation.
Following the completion of Tornado, the overhaul & conversion of its support coach E21249 and the repayment of the £1m of loans taken out to speed completion, the Trust launched its project to build a second new main line steam locomotive in 2013. The Gresley class P2 2-8-2 ‘Mikados’ were the most powerful express passenger locomotives to operate in the UK. Sadly, the design was never fully developed, and they were rebuilt as ‘Pacifics’ in 1943/4 before being scrapped by 1961.
Prince of Wales stands outside Darlington Locomotive Works – Mandy Grant
We set ourselves a new challenge: “To develop, build and operate an improved Gresley class P2 ‘Mikado’ steam locomotive for main line and preserved railway use.” The project to build the seventh Gresley class P2 ‘Mikado’ is using the latest computer design and modelling techniques to enable it to deliver its true potential. We estimate that No. 2007 Prince of Wales will cost around £5m to build over a 7-10 year period and with your continued help the locomotive is on track for completion within the next three years.
Steve Davies, Chairman, The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, commented, “We’ve come a long way since those humble beginnings in York 30 years ago thanks to the generous donations of time and money from our dedicated supporters. We are now seeking to attract new supporters to come on-board and help us with our ambitious development plans.
“With this increased support, the next few years will see the first of the two new boilers delivered and fitted to No. 60163 Tornado during her next overhaul; the acquisition and overhaul of E35457 for use as a support coach for No. 2007 Prince of Wales; the completion, testing and operation of our new Gresley class P2; the relocation of the Trust’s operations to a new, larger main line connected site in Darlington where we can build, maintain and operate new steam locomotives; and the start of the construction of our third new ex-LNER steam locomotive, yet-to-be-named Gresley class V4 No. 3403.
“As part of our 30th Anniversary we are asking railway enthusiasts who share our vision to consider the different ways in which they might help us to protect what we have achieved to-date and realise our ambitious plans for the future. We are looking to welcome new ‘price of a pint of beer a week’ supporters for both No. 60163 Tornado – in particular the very real need to raise funds for her next overhaul – and to complete the build No. 2007 Prince of Wales.
“As an aside I sometimes sense in some quarters a view that once a new steam locomotive is built it requires little further support. Nothing could be further from the truth and both Tornado now, and Prince of Wales in the future, require additional support to remain in traffic. Tornado in particular at the moment as the impact of COVID-19 has significantly impacted on railtour revenue.”