Starting from informal discussions in Darlington, the group that was to become the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust first met on 24th March, 1990 to discuss the feasibility of building a replica Peppercorn A1.
Having ascertained before the launch of the project that many drawings for Peppercorn A1s had been saved from Doncaster Works when steam overhauls ceased, an appeal for volunteers to sort and collate them at the National Railway Museum was made, resulting in a team of six, led by Gerard Hill, spending three days at the NRM.
On 13th April 1993 the painstaking job of cataloguing, scanning, cleaning up and re-drawing began.
At the start of 1994 The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust announced a major sponsorship agreement with Macreadys, the leading steel bar stockholder, part of the steels and engineering division of Glynwed International plc.
The machining of the main frame plates by T M Engineers Ltd of Kingswinford, West Midlands, had now been completed and all holes drilled.
Work on the locomotive’s main frames continued to progress rapidly at Tyseley Locomotive Works (TLW), Birmingham: A delivery of round and hexagonal steel bars from long-term sponsor Macreadys was put to a variety of uses in the manufacture of fitted bolts for the star stay, drag box, hornblocks, hornstays and rear frames. Lloyds of Burton-upon-Trent completed the casting of the drag box, bogie bottom centre and inside motion plate, with the former at Brookside Engineering, Tutbury for machining.
With the awarding of £300,000 in grants for the building from the European Regional Development Fund, the National Heritage Memorial Fund and Darlington Council, 1997 saw the old Hopetown Carriage Works converted from a neglected, redundant liability into a new home for the construction of No. 60163.
The start of 1998 saw construction of the smokebox started.
1999 saw a start made on forging the motion components. The first major motion components were forged for the half completed locomotive.
At the start of the year the rear coupling rods had the machining completed by Ufone, meanwhile the machining of further rods was underway.
Due to to a number of external pressures, progress during 2001 unfortunately slowed. Following an approach by Darlington Council, the Trust relinquished the southern half of the Hopetown building to give the North Eastern Locomotive Preservation Group (NELPG) a base in the city.
Following the completion of the optical alignment survey of the frames by staff from the Severn Valley Railway, the middle and rear cannon boxes for the driving wheels of the roller bearing- fitted locomotive were now in position.
The main activity in early 2003 was the fitting of the Cartazzi hornblocks and hornstays. A great amount of adjustment and re-adjustment was required to ensure the necessary clearances were adhered to.
2004 saw the launch of the Trust’s £500,000 bond issue to finance the construction of the boiler and complete the locomotive. Following a very good initial response and uptake of bonds it was announced that the Trust had chosen Dampflokwerk Meiningen (Steam Locomotive Works Meiningen), a workshop of the Deutsche Bahn (the German Federal Railway) and through its subsidiary DB Fahrzeuginstandhaltung GmbH (DB Rolling Stock Maintenance Company), as the supplier for the boiler and associated equipment for the new locomotive.
In January 2005 the Trust was in a position to sign a contract with Meiningen. The contract was with Dampflokwerk Meiningen (Steam Locomotive Works Meiningen), a workshop of the Deutsche Bahn (the German Federal Railway) , through its subsidiary DB Fahrzeuginstandhaltung GmbH (DB Rolling Stock Maintenance Company), and followed on from an initial order for the redesign of the original LNER Diagram 118 boiler for the 21st century.
North View Engineering made progress on the valve heads and spindles. Steve Wood completed machining valve spindle crosshead guides in February and started on Cartazzi spring hanger brackets. Ufone restarted work on the replacement inside piston.
By spring 2007 Bedestone had completed the grinding of the inside radius link and it went to I D Howitt Ltd at Crofton for assembly to the radius link trunnions which had been completed by Multi-Tech.
By the start of 2008 the end of the project was within sight. A huge number of small tasks still needed to be completed but with the boiler in the frames and the key ancillaries attached it would only be a matter of days before the certification process could begin.
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