This year’s railway preservation sensation, the new-build A1 Tornado, is to visit Didcot Railway Centre from 16 August to 2 September 2009.
The railway centre is open every day in this period, and with Didcot’s famously relaxed attitude to letting people wander around the engine shed, there will be plenty of opportunity to inspect Tornado up close without the huge crowds that accompany her main line appearances.
Tornado will be hauling passenger trains over the August Bank Holiday weekend from Saturday 29 – Monday 31 August 2009. With an admission price of £9, including train rides, this may be the cheapest way of sampling a Tornado journey this year. And with frequent shuttles on Didcot’s demonstration line there will be plenty of opportunities to see, smell, hear and photograph her from the lineside.
The bank holiday weekend should see Britain’s two most recently built ‘main line’ steam locomotives in use. Fire Fly, a replica Great Western broad gauge engine, completed in 2005, will offer a taste of 1840s technology, whilst Tornado, completed in 2008, will demonstrate how the state of the art had developed by the 1940s. And as a portent of the future the 1940-vintage diesel railcar 22 will be running as a forerunner of the fleet that eventually ousted steam.
The Heavy Freight Mob’s Black Python bar will also be open over the bank holiday weekend, serving an appropriate selection of real ales.
Tornado will also be running and giving train rides during the steam day on Wednesday 26 August. A very limited number of footplate rides will be available this day and over the bank holiday weekend, at £20.
There will also be driver experience days on Thursday 27 and Friday 28 August, available via firstname.lastname@example.org.
In case anyone is tempted to look askance at Tornado being welcomed into the exclusively Great Western enclave of Didcot, we would point out that 160 years ago the GWR built a Tornado of their own – a Gooch 8ft single of the Iron Duke class. So the sight of a Tornado steaming through Didcot is nearly as old as the railway itself.
For more information see the Didcot Railway Centre website www.didcotrailwaycentre.org.uk and The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust website www.a1steam.com.