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The Original A1s

The LNER Peppercorn Class A1

The Peppercorn Class A1 was designed by the last London & North Eastern Railway (LNER) Chief Mechanical Engineer, Arthur Peppercorn, who develpoped the designs for new A1 locomotives from Edward Thompson, as an evolution in LNER Pacific locomotive design, initiated by Nigel Gresley in 1922 with his original A1 Class (later rebuilt as A3 Class locomotives).  The A1’s pedigree was second to none. Peppercorn’s locomotives were designed for the heaviest passenger train workloads on the East Coast Main Line, (London–York–Newcastle–Edinburgh–Aberdeen).  These workhorses quickly proved their worth in the austere post-war years in terms of ease of maintenance, reliability and cost-effective operation.  Indeed, developments in some of the later locomotives (fitted with roller bearings) meant that they became the most economic engines in their class.  49 were built at Doncaster and Darlington for the newly nationalised British Railways, between 1948–9.

More History

More History

The move away from steam powered locomotives and towards diesel in the early 1960s meant that the Peppercorn A1s’ days were numbered; their brief 17 year lifespan was quickly cut short.  Withdrawal of the A1 Class started with No. 60123 H.A.Ivatt in October 1962, after an accident and the last Peppercorn A1s were withdrawn in summer 1966.  None of the 49 built survived into preservation; despite efforts to save the last A1, No. 60145 Saint Mungo, it too succumbed to the scrapyard in September 1966.

This, then, provided the incentive and inspiration for the A1 Trust to begin work to build a successor to the 49 A1s which had gone before, and create the 50th, to represent the significant legacy of the hugely successful Peppercorn Class A1.  It also meant that the gap in the line of preserved East Coast Main Line traction from the 1890s until the end of steam, could be properly closed. After 18 years of construction and fundraising, The 50th Peppercorn Class A1, No. 60163 Tornado, entered traffic in August 2008, 42 years after the last original A1 was scrapped.  You can find full details of the history of the class in our archives.