Happy 30th Birthday!


It’s hard to believe that it is 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 30 years ago on 17th November 1990. To loud applause 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.”

The formal launch of the Trust at the Railway Institute, York – Phil Champion

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. Tornado truly represents the Best of British Engineering!

Since 2008, No. 60163 Tornado has steamed over 100,000 miles the length and breadth of Great Britain. During Tornado’s first five years of operations the Trust also overhauled & converted its dedicated support coach E21249 and repaid the £1m of loans taken out to speed completion.  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 Birthday, Tornado has been temporarily returned to the BR locomotive green livery as worn by No. 60145 Saint Mungo towards the end of its service which inspired the organisation’s formation.


Following her naming at York in 2009, Tornado hauls the Royal Train to Leeds – Geoff Griffiths

However, we are not only celebrating the launch of the quintessentially British organisation that built Tornado, we are also celebrating the birth of a new global movement that is recreating extinct steam locomotive designs – and The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust continues to lead the movement it started.  In 2013, the Trust launched its project to build a second new main line steam locomotive, Gresley class P2 2-8-2 ‘Mikado’ No. 2007 Prince of Wales. The Gresley class P2s were the most powerful express passenger locomotives to operate in the UK, but sadly the design was never fully developed, and they were rebuilt as ‘Pacifics’ in 1943/4 before being scrapped by 1961.   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 its 7-10 year construction period and with your continued help the locomotive is on track for completion within the next three years.

The culmination of the dream, Tornado tears along the ECML at 100mph – Robin Coombes

With your generous donations of time and money, we’ve come a long way since those humble beginnings in York 30 years ago. With your continued support, the next few years will see the first of the two new boilers delivered and fitted to Tornado during her next overhaul; the overhaul of E35457 for use as a support coach for 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 Birthday celebrations we are asking our existing supporters 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. The 30th Birthday leaflet contains details of some of the ways in which you can continue to support Tornado – in particular the very real need to raise funds for her next overhaul – and build Prince of Wales.  In some quarters there is 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.  You can download the leaflet here.

It only remains to thank you in advance for your support. You can find further information on the ways in which you can support our 30th Birthday Appeals by visiting our websites, emailing or calling 01325 460163.

The next chapter – No. 2007 Prince of Wales at DLW – Mandy Grant