James May, TV presenter, media celebrity and self confessed steam enthusiast has agreed to make the first part of what will be the most powerful steam locomotive to operate in Great Britain; new build steam locomotive No. 2007 Prince of Wales.
James applied his engineering prowess in crafting Prince of Wales's smoke box door dart, the component at the front of the locomotive that secures the smoke box door shut (resembling the hands on a clock). Using materials and tools at Darlington Locomotive Works, already famous as the location where new steam locomotive Peppercorn A1 No. 60163 Tornado was built and completed in 2008, James created the first piece of this iconic locomotive.
James May explains the process of making the smokebox door dart
The locomotive is expected to cost in the region of £5m to build and will take seven years to complete. Thanks to unprecedented initial support from The Founders Club, an initiative to generate funds to acquire the frames for the locomotive, well over £300,000 has been raised in the five months since the club was opened. The main fund raising initiative kicks off with presentations in London at The Landmark Hotel on 8th March. Following the opening presentation in London, further presentations will be made at locations along the East Coast Main Line.
James May commented, "Not many man made machines stir the soul, but a full blown steam locomotive is right up there, and we invented it. However, over the decades we've lost so much of the talent, skill and knowledge needed to build them. That's why its such a thrill to work alongside the team building No. 2007 Prince of Wales, determined to not only resurrect this monster from the past, but to improve it using modern wizardry to do so. It's a real privilege to know that when Prince of Wales eventually roars past me at a station, I can proudly say along with many others that I helped build that..... and it works!"
Mark Allatt, Chairman of The P2 Steam Locomotive Company added, "We are delighted that James agreed to craft the first part of No. 2007 Prince of Wales. James has been a fervent supporter of ours over the years with Tornado and we are very pleased to have him on board with our next adventure to build the most powerful steam locomotive to operate in the UK. This isn't the first time James has got his hands dirty with us, he has been out as a volunteer member of Tornado's support crew, helping ensure the locomotive ran smoothly."
James assembles the components of the smokebox door dart for Prince of Wales - Tim Beere
The completed component - just needing the addition of about another 150 tons of metal! - Tim Beere
James May with some of the team responsible for this epic project - Tim Beere