David Champion

David was one of the principal architects of the A1 Trust and came up with simple idea of “an A1 for the price of a pint” which raised so much towards the construction of Tornado.  Born in 1948 in South Shields, Tyneside, David grew up surrounded by steam railways of various sorts including a standard gauge light railway close by, and was fascinated by trains as long as he can remember.  David modelled railways from the age of six, and along with his younger brother Phil watched the final heyday of the East Coast Pacifics and their sad rundown, particularly the elimination of A1 Pacifics.

He became infuriated with a ‘Railway Modeller’ editorial circa 1964 which said that the best way to preserve steam was to make models of them, and said to Phil that the best way was obviously to build new steam locos to replace what in time would be an ageing heritage fleet, and that some day people would do it.

David’s career commenced in1970 in Port Operations, and then Marketing for the Port of Tyne.  In the mid-1970’s he moved to a large Building Society running the commercial estate management side of business, and while there carried out the Project Management of large Building and Engineering projects.  In the late eighties he was headhunted to become a founder-partner in a new financial business headed by Lord Rothschild, and together with elder brother set up the Newcastle office.

Frustrated by ‘false starts’ of some new build projects, David was delighted to see Mike Wilson’s letter in Steam Railway News in early 1990 and after talking to Mike realised that this was the point to get involved.  David offered to prepare a business plan and funding method capable of delivering a new A1.  He recruited the initial professional team during 1990 and set up the launch at York where the Business Plan and the ‘A1 for the price of a Pint’ scheme was launched. This was followed by roadshows at London and Edinburgh where Messrs. Allatt, Elliott, Wilson and Voge were brought on board.

David took over as Chairman of the A1 Steam Trust in 1992 and oversaw production of the loco’s frames, wheels, cylinders, valve gear, cab, smoke box etc to the point of close to 50% completion by weight.  Alas, his wife, Gillian, who was a great supporter, became terminally ill with cancer and David gave up work to look after her and passed the Chairmanship of the A1 project over to Mark Allatt.  After the death of Gill in late 2004, he went to work for Barter Books in Alnwick, Northumberland, one the country’s largest secondhand and antiquarian bookshops with over 300,000 visitors a year, where he is now a Director of the company.

Sadly 2015 saw the death of our then president Dorothy Mather, widow of Arthur Peppercorn, designer of the Peppercorn class A1s and the last chief mechanical engineer of the London & North Eastern Railway, just six weeks short of her 100th birthday.  Although no-one ccould directly replace Dorothy due to her unique link with Tornado, the Trust needed a new president and there was no-one better qualified to take up this mantle than David Champion.

David Champion