On the day marking the 50th anniversary of the end of scheduled steam-hauled services on British Railways, The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust was delighted to announce that it had purchased the locomotive’s tender from William Cook Cast Products Ltd following the success of The 163 Pacifics Club fundraising campaign.

On Saturday 28th July, over 100 supporters of The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust gathered at Darlington Locomotive Works to celebrate the tenth birthday of No. 60163 Tornado. The locomotive made its first moves in front of the world’s press on 1st August 2008 and has subsequently become a household name.

Tornado’s tender was leased to the Trust under a 15-year loan agreement which was due to come to an end in 2021. The tender was owned by William Cook Cast Products Ltd (the Trust’s Principal Sponsor) as Chairman Sir Andrew Cook CBE kindly offered to fund the construction of the tender in 2006, allowing funds being raised to be spent on building the engine. By 2014 the Trust had repaid all the £1m debt needed to complete Tornado in 2008 and funded the conversion of BR Mk 1 BCK E21249 into her support coach. The 163 Pacifics Club was launched in September 2013 to fund the purchase of Tornado’s tender on the lease’s expiration in 2021.

Since completion in Darlington in 2008, Tornado has covered over 100,000 miles and seen service on the Network Rail main line and heritage railways right across Great Britain. Highlights have included three Royal Trains including the naming by TRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall in February 2009; BBC Top Gear ‘Race to the North’ with Jeremy Clarkson on the footplate; ‘The Winton’ train to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Kinder Transport; the rescuing of stranded commuters in Kent; the re-opening of the Settle to Carlisle Railway; the first steam locomotive in the UK to achieve 100mph for 50 years; featuring in two BBC documentaries, ‘Absolutely Chuffed – the Men Who Built a Steam Engine’ and ‘Tornado the 100mph Steam Engine’, and starring in PADDINGTON 2 the movie.

Tornado was named in honour of the crews who flew RAF Tornado fast jets during the first Gulf War in 1990/91 when the project to build the new Peppercorn class A1 steam locomotive was launched. The locomotive originally carried crests from the Tri-National Tornado Training Establishment (TTTE) and RAF Cottesmore on its nameplates but following the closure of the former and the transfer of the latter to other uses, Tornado now carries the crests of RAF Leeming (former Tornado base close to Darlington) and RAF Marham (current home of the Tornado Force).

Tornado’s tender is a development of those built for the original Peppercorn class A1s – mainly due to the different operating environment on the modern Network Rail main line. Due to the lack of surviving steam infrastructure, water capacity is at a premium and so Tornado’s tender carries 6,200 gallons, as opposed to 5,000 gallons, and seven tons of coal, rather than nine tons in the original A1s. The tender is also the home for many of Tornado’s other unique features including an alternator, Timken cartridge roller bearings (pre-greased sealed self-contained units which do not have to be fitted in enclosed axleboxes), Train Protection & Warning System (TPWS), National Radio Network (NRN) radio, Global System for Mobile Communications – Railway (GSM-R) radio, GPS tracker and of course the mobile phone charger!

Mark Allatt, Trustee, The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, commented, “On 1st August No. 60163 Tornado celebrated her tenth birthday and remains the only new main line steam locomotive to be completed in Britain since 1960, despite over 20 standard gauge new build projects being launched. Tornado’s first 100,000 miles have seen the locomotive criss-cross Great Britain, a testimony to those supporters who stuck with the project over the 18 years that it took to fundraise and build – This locomotive was built and paid for by people who shared a vision and were determined to turn it into reality.

“We are delighted that thanks to the generosity of our dedicated supporters we have raised more than £200,000 plus gift aid through our The 163 Pacifics Club fundraising campaign. This means that we are now in a position to purchase Tornado’s tender from William Cook Cast Products Ltd three years before the end of its 15 year lease in 2021.

“William Cook Cast Products Ltd has been principal sponsor to The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust through its Chairman Sir Andrew Cook CBE since 1994, providing all the steel castings for No. 60163 Tornado and No. 2007 Prince of Wales – including all the wheels – at preferential rates and on generous terms – for which the Trust is enormously grateful as well as assisting with the funding of Tornado’s boiler. Any additional funds raised have been ring-fenced and will be used for the next overhaul of Tornado’s tender.

“Keeping Tornado on the Network Rail main line is expensive and time consuming and so the Trust is always seeking new supporters and volunteers to come on board. There could be no better way to celebrate Tornado’s first ten years in steam than the purchase of her tender from William Cook Cast Products Ltd, thus completing the project to build a new Peppercorn class A1 ‘Pacific’ launched in 1990.”

“Keeping Tornado on the Network Rail main line is expensive and time consuming and so the Trust is always seeking new supporters and volunteers to come on board. There could be no better way to celebrate Tornado’s first ten years in steam than the purchase of her tender from William Cook Cast Products Ltd, thus completing the project to build a new Peppercorn class A1 ‘Pacific’ launched in 1990.”

Sir Andrew Cook CBE, Chairman, William Cook Cast Products Ltd, added, “William Cook Cast Products Ltd has been delighted to be associated with The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust for almost 25 years, supplying all of the steel castings for both No. 60163 Tornado and No. 2007 Prince of Wales and assisting with the funding of Tornado’s boiler, as well as purchasing and leasing back to the Trust Tornado’s tender, which enabled funds raised to focus on the construction of the engine. As the Trust’s Principal Sponsor, I believe that the building of Tornado is a great example of ‘The Cook Guiding Principles’ – Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence… persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”

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Tornado’s tender at Darlington during the most recent overhaul – John Wilkinson
The 163 Pacifics Club – how it worked
Following the success – thanks to your generosity – of our ‘Regular’ and ‘Dedicated Donation’ schemes for the construction of No. 60163 Tornado and the ‘Use Your Loaf’ appeal for the overhaul and conversion of BR Mk 1 BCK E21249 into Tornado’s support coach, we decided to follow a similar route for the purchase of Tornado’s tender.
• It was our aim is to raise £195,600 through The 163 Pacifics Club from 163 supporters each donating £960 to the project (in up to 96 payments of £10 by standing order with the addition of Gift Aid.
• Although Tornado carries the number ‘60163’ – the next in the Peppercorn class A1 series following No. 60162 Saint Johnstoun – her pre-nationalisation LNER number would have been ‘163’.
• There were therefore 163 ex-LNER express passenger Pacifics from the Gresley class A3s/A4s, Thompson class A1/1 and Peppercorn class A1s. A numbered certificate (1-163) will recorded the details of each donation and the number/name of a favourite pacific.
• If 163 people were to donate £10 per month over the eight years until we need to purchase the tender (or alternatively make a one-off donation of £960) with the addition of Gift Aid (£2.50 per month or £240 one-off) this would raise £195,600.
• As with the previous schemes, this initiative came with benefits for those who generously took part
• A numbered certificate (1-163) recording the details of the donation and the number/name of the favourite ex-LNER express passenger pacific from the Gresley class A3s/A4s, Thompson class A1/1 and Peppercorn class A1s.
• Name inscribed on the official Roll of Honour in Darlington Locomotive Works which detailing the Pacific sponsored
• Entry into a draw for a main line footplate ride on No. 60163 Tornado.
Membership of The 163 Pacifics Club grew steadily since its launch and eventually all the allocations were filled.
It really was that simple! Sponsor your favourite Pacific and help give Tornado her paid-for tender behind by 2021.
Thank you for your valued support – together we finished the job!