No. 2001 Cock o’ the North as designed by Nigel Gresley – M. Secretan

With Tornado now operating successfully on the main line, thoughts inevitably started to turn to “what next for the Trust?”  The transition from a builder of steam locomotives to an operator has certainly not been a painless one and it is fair to say that it is a lot harder work than many of us imagined. However, our new-found role – and our locomotive’s super-star status – has started to deliver significant benefits. Millions of people are now aware of Tornado and thousands of them are now travelling from far and wide to see and travel behind our locomotive, whether on a heritage railway or on the main line.  Heritage railway appearances are resulting in record numbers of visitors and the knock-on effects of this are more demands to hire Tornado than we can cope with, ever growing sales by our merchandise team and numbers of new Covenantors growing more rapidly than ever before.

Given this situation, The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust can start to address the question posed at the beginning – “what next for the Trust?”  Over the years we have been asked this question many times and more often than not most people’s thoughts have turned to Gresley’s magnificent P2s. The first Gresley class P2 No. 2001 Cock o’ the North was completed in 1934 by the London & North Eastern Railway (LNER) at its Doncaster works. It was the most powerful express passenger steam locomotive ever built for a British railway. Designed by Sir Nigel Gresley, the Chief Mechanical Engineer of the LNER who also designed the famous class A3 4472 Flying Scotsman and world speed record holder class A4 4468 Mallard, the class, which was eventually to number six, was constructed for use on the arduous Edinburgh to Aberdeen route. The P2’s 2-8-2 ‘Mikado’ wheel arrangement and 6ft 2in driving wheels enabled them to haul 600 ton trains on their own, replacing two older locomotives.  However, the P2s never lived up to their potential. The advent of the streamlined trains in the late 1930s and then the second world war meant that the design was never fully developed and all six were rebuilt as class A2/2 4-6-2 ‘Pacifics’ in 1943/44 by Sir Nigel Gresley’s successor, Edward Thompson, following Gresley’s premature death in 1941.


 Cock o’ the North is seen at Dundee shed – Gresley Society Collection

The P2 is the most frequently requested locomotive the Trust is asked to build next. In addition to its striking looks, incredible power and undoubted glamour it also has around 70% commonality with Tornado, including the boiler, tender and many other detailed fittings. However, the design was never fully developed and the locomotives failed to reach their full potential. The Trust is therefore conducting a feasibility study into the construction of a new Gresley P2, to be numbered 2007 as the next in the series. As a part of this study we are examining the commercial, engineering and certification challenges that we would face in completing that development work to make a new P2 a success. Initial conversations with the regulatory bodies have been very positive but we have a long way to go yet.

The aim of the study to answer the question once and for all as to whether the Trust can successfully and commercially build, certify and operate a P2. If the answer is yes, then we will launch the project. If no, then we will look at an alternative locomotive to build.


No. 2001 hauls a huge train, the job the class was designed for – Rail Archive Stephenson