The new build steam locomotive Tornado may look like something from a bygone age but it was, in fact, completed in 2008, built from scratch by a dedicated team of volunteers. In the last decade the engine has found fame on large and small screen, appearing in the PADDINGTON 2 movie and starring in Top Gear’s ‘Race to the North’. Tornado is also famed for reaching 100mph in secret night time tests in 2017, making it the first steam locomotive to reach such high speeds since the 1960s.

A first for preservation – The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, a registered charity, built Peppercorn class A1 Pacific No. 60163 Tornado at its Darlington Locomotive Works. Fitted with additional water capacity and the latest railway safety electronics, Tornado is fully equipped for today’s main line railway. The A1 class was designed by Arthur H Peppercorn for the London & North Eastern Railway and 49 were built in 1948/49 by British Railways. However, following modernisation, all were scrapped by 1966.  After 18 years of construction and fundraising the £3 million locomotive was completed in August 2008, the first main line steam locomotive to be built for the UK since 1961.

Royal namingTornado was named by HRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall at York station on 19th February 2009.  The locomotive was named in honour of the crews who flew RAF Tornado fast jets during the first Gulf War in 1990/91 when the project to build the new Peppercorn class A1 steam locomotive was launched. The locomotive originally carried crests from the Tri-National Tornado Training Establishment (TTTE) and RAF Cottesmore on its nameplates but following the closure of the former and the transfer of the latter to other uses, Tornado now carries the crests of RAF Leeming (former Tornado base close to Darlington) and RAF Marham (current home of the Tornado Force).

TV star – Since completion in Darlington in 2008, new Peppercorn class A1 Pacific No. 60163 Tornado has covered over 100,000 miles and seen service on the Network Rail main line and heritage railways right across Great Britain. Highlights have included three Royal Trains and naming by TRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall in February 2009, the BBC’s Top Gear ‘Race to the North’ with Jeremy Clarkson on the footplate, the re-opening of the Settle to Carlisle Railway, becoming the first steam locomotive in the UK to achieve 100mph for 50 years, featuring in two BBC documentaries, ‘Absolutely Chuffed – the Men Who Built a Steam Engine’ and ‘Tornado the 100mph Steam Engine’ and starring in PADDINGTON 2 the movie.

Movie starTornado starred in the latest Paddington Bear movie, PADDINGTON 2, which was released in cinemas on 10th November 2017, and on DVD Easter 2018. During the film, the Brown family drive the locomotive in pursuit of Paddington. No. 60163 took part in filming at Paddington station and at Leavesden Studios in December and January 2017.

100mph Record – Whilst undertaking test runs in connection with raising its permitted maximum speed, No. 60163 Tornado reached 100mph, a preservation era record, during trials conducted on the East Coast Main Line (ECML) between Doncaster and Newcastle. Tornado is currently limited to 75mph, but it has always been the intention to run the locomotive at speeds up to 90mph to better fit in with other trains on the busy UK rail network. In connection with testing for future 90mph operations the locomotive was rigged with diagnostic measurement equipment and operated up to 100mph during controlled testing in the early hours of Wednesday 12th April 2017. In common with other rail vehicles Tornado had to operate at 10% above its planned maximum speed to demonstrate a sufficient margin of safety. The tests were observed and monitored by various rail industry engineers and certification bodies.

Tornado – part of history, still creating history – come and join us!

Tornado with ‘The Yorkshire Pullman’ – Alan Weaver