Tornado, the first new main line steam locomotive to be built in Britain for almost 50 years, defied the arctic weather on Monday 21st December 2009 and hauled two of only a handful of trains operating in Kent. The new Peppercorn class A1 pacific’s 1940s technology was able to withstand the snow and ice that brought much of Southern England to a standstill and hauled ‘The Cathedrals Express’ from London Victoria to Dover and back. On the second trip Tornado was able to rescue around 100 commuters who had been left stranded by more ‘modern’ trains, dropping them off at stations en-route.
Tornado starred in a recent episode of BBC’s ‘Top Gear’ racing a Jaguar XK120 car and Vincent Black Shadow motorcycle from London to Edinburgh, with presenter Jeremy Clarkson on-board. The first showing of the programme was watched by over seven million people. The new £3m Peppercorn class A1 pacific steam locomotive was built over almost 20 years by The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, a registered charity, at its Darlington Locomotive Works. Frequently headlined in the national and international press and on TV and radio, No. 60163 Tornado was the subject of a BBC documentary ‘Absolutely Chuffed: The Men Who Built a Steam Engine’ broadcast on Christmas Eve on BBC2 last year and now available from the Trust on DVD. The locomotive was officially named Tornado by TRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall in February of this year and has since entered regular service on excursion trains on the Network Rail main line.
Mark Allatt, chairman of The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, commented:
“Monday’s Cathedrals Expresses were Tornado’s last main line trains of her first year of operations. Not only are we delighted that she was able to brave the arctic weather to haul two of the few trains to run in Kent on Monday but we were pleased to be able to help some of London’s stranded commuters to get home in style.”