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25 years ago on July 13th 1994, the frame plates for new-build London & North Eastern Railway Peppercorn A1 No.60163 “Tornado” started to be cut at British Steel’s Leeds Site.
After 14 long years of construction and roughly £3,000,000 later, the first steam locomotive to be built in the United Kingdom emerged from The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust’s base at Darlington.
To mark this milestone in the heritage railway world, we’ll recap the events which lead up to Tornado being built.
LNER Peppercorn A1s
Designed by Arthur Peppercorn for the LNER but built under British Railway in 1948 and 1949, the Peppercorn A1s were the latest design of ‘Pacifics’ 4-6-2 engines for the Eastern Region of BR.
With a tractive effort at 37,400 lbf and power classification of 8P6F, the class handle many of the heaviest and fastest trains along the East Coast Mainline, this being 550-ton trains averaging 60-70mph between London King’s Cross and Aberdeen. Featuring modern design such as Timken roller bearings to ease maintenance, the Peppercorn A1s were one of best ‘Pacific’ designs ever built.
60163 “Tornado” at Nene Valley Railway on April 22nd 2017 // Credit Jamie Duggan, RailAdvent
Like all steam engines in the 1960s, a mass phasing out and scrapping program began, with diesel being introduced on express services and Diesel Multiple Units (DMUs). The class were moved around to areas still running steam until 1966, when all 49 locomotives were withdrawn and all scrapped just a few years later.
Restoring engines from ‘Barry’ conditions (missing many parts and heavily rusted/corroded) was deemed impossible for many locomotives, let alone building a brand new engine from scratch! Despite this, a group of like-minded people got together, forming the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust in 1990. Following four years of planning, assessing and designing, the project hit its first milestone with physical parts being made. The Trust had to overcome many issues, from finding a contractor to build the boiler to lowering the engine’s overall height to meet mainline running requirements.
Two decades of planning and building all paid off when 60163 “Tornado” steamed as a complete locomotive in 2008. Since then, 11 years on, “Tornado” has become a very popular engine, drawing the crowds wherever the engine goes.
Over 100,000 miles have been racked up on both the national network and preserved lines the length of the UK.
For more information or to support Britain’s first new build standard gauge steam engine since 1960, please click here.
This article first appeared on www.railadvent.co.uk
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