The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust (A1SLT), the charity who built and operate new steam locomotive No.60163 Tornado and are now nearing completion of a brand new P2 Class locomotive, Prince of Wales, held their annual Convention on Saturday 14th October in the Trust’s hometown of Darlington. Over 130 supporters and their guests convened to hear the latest news from the board of Trustees and Directors, and in turn participate in a Q&A session with the A1SLT team.
The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust Convention is open to all Covenantors and Club donors, taking place in early autumn each year. The event was a great success, with significant funds raised helping to move the projects forward.
The day started with presentations at Hall Garth Hotel, Darlington, and relayed 12 months of engineering progress for both locomotives. This included a detailed presentation on Tornado’s overhaul and a roadmap for moving forward towards the completion of Prince of Wales. Highlights of the morning included live images of No. 60163’s boiler in steam on the frames, and for the P2, the promise of a large component reveal later that day, and an introduction to ‘The Valve Gear Club’ which, when it launches in the new year, will be raising funds for No. 2007’s final large component.
A vintage bus ride later, the afternoon saw the brand-new Darlington Locomotive Works host its first Convention and supporters were wowed by the impressive facility that the Trust has called home since the Summer. The Mikado 2-8-2, P2 Class locomotive, No.2007 Prince of Wales, a new build project started in 2013, stands proudly at the works awaiting the imminent delivery of components totalling over £1million.
On the day, A1SLT Trustees, staff and volunteers were delighted to reveal the first of these deliveries, the fabricated monobloc which arrived the week before, to the assembled crowd. Described as “simply awesome” by one supporter, the cylinder block was unveiled to resounding applause. The £250,000 component manufactured at Howco, Irvine, is the first Monobloc produced since the 1940s. The Trust is proud to have pioneered the fabrication process when casting of the complex cylinder was not an option, in a first for steam locomotive new builds and preservation. Proving this method is not only vital for the P2, but the Trust’s next build project - the V4 - will require a similarly fabricated monobloc cylinder. This method could also be applied to heritage locomotives, such as the V2.
The day was rounded off with the traditional Convention Dinner, a much-anticipated part of the event, where guests enjoyed a talk by Paul Lewin, telling of his recent experiences as General Manager of the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railway and eloquently drawing parallels with narrow gauge new build locomotives.
The Trust now looks forward to the return of No. 60163 Tornado to the rails in the Autumn, and the delivery of the new boiler for the P2 which is due by the new year. You can support these projects at www.a1steam.com.