By the late 1980s, almost everything that could be done to preserve steam locomotives had been done with new motion, driving wheels and even cylinders all being manufactured to bring wrecks back to life. Many recognised that the next step must be to build an entirely new locomotive.
Starting from informal discussions in the late 1980s the group that was to become The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust first met on March 24th 1990 to “discuss the feasibility of building a replica Peppercorn A1 locomotive.” The first public meeting was held at the Railway Institute, York, on April 28th 1990.
At this time the project comprised five people – David Champion (a financial planning consultant who produced the marketing and build plan), Phil Champion (brother of David and a teacher who became the first newsletter editor), Stuart Palmer (a Newcastle solicitor who became legal advisor), Ian Storey (owner of ‘Black Five’ No. 44767 who became Chief Mechanical Engineer) and Mike Wilson, the first Chairman. Whilst Ian was instrumental in assessing the initial feasibility of the engineering, it was David who put in place the project’s radical approach to fundraising based around Deeds of Covenant and mould-breaking management structure that made it all possible.
A formal launch meeting, also at the Railway Institute, was held on November 17th 1990. To loud applause it was announced that the new locomotive would carry the running number 60163 – the next in the sequence following No. 60162 Saint Johnstoun. Roadshows followed in London and Edinburgh.
From the start, three vital decisions were made. Funding would be a priority; trustees would be professionals in relevant fields so that their work for the Trust would be to the highest standard; and, because of reasons of certification and the nature of the work being undertaken, the overwhelming majority of the manufacture of the locomotive would be undertaken by the engineering industry.
The organisation was based around four principles:
- It would have to be run using the best business practices by people experienced in the appropriate areas.
- The funding method would have to be simple, and capable of being understood and afforded by virtually anyone.
- Because of the enormity of the task, there would have to be a single aim to focus on, the project’s mission statement – “The building and operation of an A1” – against which all proposed actions would be judged.
- The rules of the organisation would prohibit cliques and any form of élitism. Everyone would achieve recognition based on effort rather than size of cheque book. This would enable all efforts to go into the building of the ‘A1’.
A nationwide management team was put together who freely give considerable amounts of time and expertise. The Trust has secured a reputation for being supported by a wide range of specialists, experts and enthusiasts from all walks of life. It is this team and the principles established constructing Tornado that are behind the building of No. 2007 Prince of Wales.