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

Vice President

Wreford Voge

Wreford was the project’s taxation and charitable-status adviser for over 17 years. He is a Chartered Accountant and a retired partner of Ernst & Young. He is a past-President of the Institute of Taxation and an acknowledged expert on the taxation of charities.

Vice President

Peter Townend

Peter is a former shed master of the King’s Cross ‘Top Shed’ and he was largely responsible for the magnificent performances turned in by the King’s Cross main line locomotives in the late 1950s up to closure of Top Shed in 1964. He worked with all the LNER Pacific types, is a prolific author and the Trust is fortunate to be able to draw on such a wealth of practical experience of the Peppercorn A1s in service.  You can read Peter’s analysis of the A1s in service here


Vice President

Malcolm Crawley

A Doncaster premium apprentice 1947–52; retired. BR engineer, Malcolm worked on the design, construction and maintenance of the A1s. He is Chairman of The Gresley Society Trust. 


Malcolm Crawley loads the first coal into the firebox


Dorothy Mather

It is with great sadness that we have to record the passing of Dorothy Mather, widow of Arthur Peppercorn, on the 10th November at the age of 99.

Born Dorothy Patricia Louch, she grew up in a railway family near Doncaster and, following a stint of voluntary work during WW2 and working for the regional coal board, she ended up in the Doncaster Works drawing office; it was here that she met Arthur Peppercorn and they married in 1948. It was during this period that the A2s and the A1s entered traffic. Leaving the Eastern Region of BR in good shape, Arthur retired at the end of 1949, much loved and admired, only to die prematurely in 1951.

A few years later, she met Colonel W. H. Mather, OBE, TD and ex-LNER. In due course they married, bought a country house near Stokesley and settled down. As Bill’s health failed, they moved to a more modern house and Dorothy nursed him. He died and she became a widow again, albeit with an ever-wider circle of friends and Bill’s many nephews and nieces.

In August 1993, Dorothy was approached by the Trust about the A1 Project. She was sufficiently impressed to join us informally and from there her involvement grew. She was there at BSD Leeds on 13th July 1994 to start the CNC machine that cut Tornado’s frameplates, at the Trust’s first convention that September and at Tyseley in December for the ceremony marking erection of the frameplates. She attended many A1 Trust occasions since then, always immaculately dressed, always interested and courteous to everyone she met. In September 1995 she became joint vice-president, later president.

Not just a figurehead, she did a tremendous job for the Trust in countless interviews with press and television. She proved quite as vital as our ISO 9000 quality standard because, if Tornado was good enough for her, it would be good enough for Arthur Peppercorn. Those of us who knew her will miss her quiet dignity, kindness and valued contributions to any conversation about the work of her first husband.