Starting from informal discussions in Darlington, the group that was to become the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust first met on 24th March, 1990 to discuss the feasibility of building a replica Peppercorn A1. On 7th April, 1990, Mike Wilson, who was to become the trust’s first chairman, sent a letter to a weekly railway paper resulting in the first public meeting at the Railway Institute, York, on 28th April that year.
At that time the project comprised Mike and four others – David Champion (a financial planning consultant who produced the marketing plan), Phil Champion (David’s brother and a teacher who became the group’s newsletter editor), Stuart Palmer (a Newcastle solicitor who became legal advisor) and Ian Storey (an engineer who became the project’s cheif mechanical engineer). Ian was instrumental in assessing the initial feasibility of the engineering side at an estimated £500,000 rising to £1 million if the project took ten years. David Champion put in place a radical approach to fundraising, based on deeds of covenant, which made it all possible.
A formal launch for the public and the press was held at the Railway Institute on 17th November, 1990, and was attended by more than eighty people. It was announced that the loco would carry the number 60163, the next in sequence after No. 60162 Saint Johnstoun.
The first covenants are signed at the Railway Institute
Data courtesy Locomotives of the LNER Part 2A, published by the RCTS, 1986
Locomotive Nos. 60153-7 were fitted by Timken roller bearings and were hence slightly heavier. These had a total weight of 155 tons 2 cwt, and maximum axle load of 22 tons 7cwt.
Tornado carries 7.5 tons of coal and has a water capacity of 6,200 gallons, sacrificing coal space for water. The tender also utilises the pick-up space and has additional volume added around the top filler. Originally it was planned to have the loco oil-fired but economics dictated a reversion to coal-firing while keeping the option of fitting a fuel bunker in the coal space.
The completed locomotive would also have an all-welded boiler with a steel firebox and a coal grate. Unlike all other mainline steam locomotives the engine would be air-braked throughout with vacuum brakes the secondary system.
In addition to the above, Tornado has a sophisticated electrical system, deriving power from a Stones turbo-generator, batteries and a tender mounted alternator. The head and tail lights are cab switchable and match current group standards on Network Rail, the locomotive also carries frame inspection lamps and injector overflow lighting.
Finally, the smallest but most obvious difference to the original A1s is that Tornado has been fitted with a chime whistle!