A support coach and crew are an essential part of the long distance operation of preserved steam locomotives in the United Kingdom on the main line. Since main line steam operations ended in 1968, much if not all of the static infrastructure and paid staff required to support steam locomotive operation no longer exists, requiring the use of support coaches and crews to travel with the locomotive.
Our support crew is formed from volunteers giving their free time as holidays from work, if they are not retired. They often have to travel long distances before carrying out their duties on Tornado. A typical commitment is 100 hours for five hours of actual train running, although commitments of up to seven days are not unknown.
Support coaches are usually drawn from passenger brake coaches of the British Railways Mark 1 era, taking advantage of the existence of the guards/parcels van space for ease of conversion to workshop/stores/mess functions. The seating portion of the coach will often be of the compartment with side corridor style layout. In the Trust’s support coach, one part of the former van area will contain a storage and workshop area, while another will serve as the mess room. The passenger area will provide seating and/or sleeping accommodation.
In 2008 Mk 1 Brake Corridor Composite (BCK) E21249 was moved to Darlington Locomotive Works. The vehicle is a Swindon1961 built, five compartment composite brake with three second class and two first class compartments, two toilet compartments, a guard’s compartment and a caged luggage area. This coach was purchased by Barry and Linda Wilson who have now most generously agreed to donate it to the Trust for use as Tornado’s support coach, click here to download a donation form so you can help as well or go to the support coach page here.
Tornado's new support coach is currently undergoing overhaul and conversion at Darlington Locomotive Works. This Limited Edition 00 scale model (39-227Z) from Bachmann of BR Mark 1 BCK E21249 in ‘carmine and cream’ livery, with A1SLT coach boards, is exclusive to The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust and only available to supporters of our 'use your loaf' appeal. It is the perfect companion to your Bachmann or Hornby model of Tornado – support crew leaning out of windows not included! All profits from the sale will go towards the overhaul of the real E21249. Supporters of this appeal can download an order form here.