Full steam ahead..

Full steam ahead for new main line steam locomotive as 60163 Tornado steams for the first time

The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, the registered charity that is building the first new main line steam locomotive in Britain for almost 50 years, today announced that the boiler for Peppercorn class A1 60163 Tornado had received its boiler certificate following a successful steam test in Darlington on Friday 11 January 2008, at Darlington Locomotive Works, Hopetown Lane, Darlington.

The steam test followed the lighting of the first fire for Tornado by Dorothy Mather, widow of the locomotive’s designer Arthur Peppercorn and the Trust’s President, on Wednesday 9 January and the first shovel of coal being put in the firebox by Malcolm Crawley, a former premium apprentice at Doncaster Works who helped to build the original class A1s the one of the Trust’s Vice Presidents.

Mark Allatt, chairman of The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust commented:

“The lighting of the first fire and the successful completion of the boiler’s steam test are tremendous news for Tornado and the future of main line steam in Britain. There was no more appropriate person than Dorothy Mather to carry out this ceremonial task as she is the widow of Arthur Peppercorn who designed the class A1s for the London & North Eastern Railway in the 1940s. Tornado is the 50th Peppercorn class A1 – the other 49 were built in 1948/9 and the last A1 was withdrawn for scrap by British Railways in 1966. Tornado is the first new main line steam locomotive to be built in Britain since 92220 Evening Star was completed in 1960, the first new express passenger steam locomotive since 71000 Duke of Gloucester in 1954 and the first steam locomotive to be built in Darlington, the birthplace of the railways, since 84029 in 1957.

“The project to build 60163 Tornado was launched in 1990 and almost 18 years and £3m later Tornado has raised steam for the first time. The steam test was preceded by two days when Tornado’s boiler was slowly warmed, building up steam pressure. Today Tornado’s boiler reached its operating pressure of 250 lb/sq in overseen by representatives from the Trust’s Notified Body Delta Rail and boiler inspector John Glaze, before receiving its 10 year boiler certificate. The race is then on to complete the assembly of the locomotive as rapidly as possible. When this project was launched in 1990 many people said that it could not be done. The steaming of Tornado’s boiler proves the doubters wrong and means that there is only £27,000 and 36 weeks between now and Tornado’s mainline début.”

The A1 Trust is building Peppercorn class A1 Pacific No. 60163 Tornado at its Darlington Locomotive Works and when complete and certified for main line use in summer 2008 it will be used on special excursion trains operating on Network Rail. Although the funding gap to complete Tornado to the project plan now stands at only £27,009, once this gap has been bridged the Trust will need to raise approximately £800,000 to service the loans taken out and bond issue taken up to ensure the locomotive’s long term operations.

Dorothy Mather added:

“I’m absolutely delighted to have lighted the first fire. It was quite something seeing it – absolutely unbelievable after all of this time.”

Mark Allatt, continued:

“With the steam test successfully concluded, it is now a matter of when, not if, Tornado will be completed. We are now looking to people throughout the country to help us complete Tornado through making a donation, sponsoring a component, taking part in our covenant scheme and/or our £500,000 bond issue. It’s time those who have not yet supported this ground breaking project to get on-board!”