The last of the renowned Peppercorn class ‘A1’ steam locomotives was scrapped in 1966, but, as you can read on this website, a brand new ‘A1’, No. 60163 Tornado, has been brought to life in Darlington. Fitted with additional water capacity and the latest railway safety electronics, Tornado is fully equipped for today’s main line railway. However, for her to continue main line passenger service we need your help – and you can still come on board for the price of a pint! This website tells the story of the building of the locomotive and our plans for the future. We hope you’re able to join us on this exciting journey.
The A1s were designed by Arthur H Peppercorn (29th January 1889 – 3rd March 1951), the last Chief Mechanical Engineer of the London & North Eastern Railway (LNER). They were the last in a line of famous express passenger steam locomotives for the East Coast Main Line that included the Stirling Singles, the Ivatt Atlantics and the Gresley Pacifics.
The original 49 Peppercorn Class A1s were ordered by the LNER and built at Doncaster and Darlington for British Railways (BR) in 1948/9, after the nationalisation of the railways. As designed they were ideally suited for the post-war world of poor maintenance and heavy trains, with their 50sq ft grate allowing them to use lower grade coal than their predecessors. The final five were even equipped with roller bearings enabling them to go for an average of 118,000 miles between heavy repairs, making the A1s the cheapest to run of all British steam locomotives in the same category. They were also the most reliable of all of the express passenger steam locomotives owned by British Railways.
Alas the rapid onset of dieselisation in the 1960s meant that all 49 were scrapped, after an average life of only 15 years. There was an attempt to save the last, No. 60145 Saint Mungo, but this unfortunately failed and it too was withdrawn in June 1966 and scrapped in September of the same year. As there was no Barry Scrapyard for ex-LNER locomotives, here the story has until now ended.
We have an extensive archive of historical photographs of A1s in service (such as those by Peter Townend used in the individual locomotive histories) as well as a great many other LNER subjects, many of which have never been published. Contact for details.
Only 16 years elapsed between these pictures ….