TORNADO CELEBRATES FIFTH BIRTHDAY - Five years since new steam locomotive’s historic first moves in Darlington
The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, the registered charity behind famous new steam locomotive 60163 Tornado, is today celebrating the fifth anniversary of her first moves in front of the world’s press on 1st August 2008. The event, which was covered live on BBC News throughout the day, was covered as far away as Australia, Russia and Japan, and attended by Dorothy Mather, the widow of Arthur Peppercorn, the locomotive’s designer.
Since then Tornado has become one of the busiest steam locomotives on the Network Rail main line, having covered 70,000 miles since her completion at Darlington Locomotive Works. Highlights of the past five years include:
A star is born: having been launched to the world on 1st August 2008, Tornado’s progress towards main line approval was followed every step of the way by the British public who turned out in their thousands to travel behind her on her first passenger trains on the Great Central Railway in September 2008, watch her final night-time main line test run from York to Newcastle and back on 18th/19th November 2008 and her historic first train from Darlington to a packed London King’s Cross on 7th February 2009.
By Royal appointment: Tornado was officially named by TRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall 19th February 2009 at York station witnessed by thousands of members of the public and the celebrations included an RAF band and flypast of Hawk and Tornado aircraft. The locomotive then went on to haul the Royal Train to Leeds with Prince Charles on the footplate for part of the journey. Tornado made her second appearance on the Royal Train on 4th February 2010 when she took TRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall from on Preston to engagements in Manchester and then on to Crewe. Her third appearance on the Royal Train on 22nd/23rd July 2012 was with the momentous first overnight Royal Train for over 50 years when Tornado took The Prince of Wales from Kemble to Bishop Auckland and then Alnmouth, picking up the stock at Wembley and taking it on to Edinburgh. A surprise guest on this train was the soon to be appointed Archbishop of Canterbury, The Most Reverend Justin Welby.
Record breaker: as well as being the first new main line steam locomotive to be built in Britain for over 50 years, Tornado is also the first steam locomotive to have been paid for by public subscription. Tornado is now as old as Evening Star, the last steam locomotive built for British Railways, was when she was withdrawn from service in 1965. Performance wise, from the earliest days Tornado has been a record breaker. On her test run on the East Coast Main Line (ECML) on 18th November 2008 the locomotive averaged over 70mph from York to Chester Le Street. This was a first for preserved steam, and is exceptional given the 75mph speed ceiling for steam locomotives on Network Rail. And it isn’t just sustained high-speed running, but also power output records that have been set, with over 3,000idhp produced on a magnificent climb of Beattock Bank on ‘The Caledonian Tornado’ on 21st September 2011. Finally, haulage wise on big hills the ex-LNER Pacifics were considered to have too large wheels, but those who witnessed Tornado over the GWR's South Devon Banks, or its two unforgettable runs over the Highland Main Line to Inverness would suggest something different. With the potential of an increase to 90mph for Tornado, what new records await?
Media celebrity: following her first moves, test trains and Royal naming, Tornado continued to remain in the public eye, hauling the commemorative ‘Winton Train’ from Harwich to London Liverpool Street to mark the 70th anniversary of the Kinder Transport, hauling the only working trains in Kent during the heavy snowfalls of December 2009, starring in ‘The Race to the North’ on Top Gear with Jeremy Clarkson on the footplate watched by an estimated seven million people first time around and the subject of her own TV documentary ‘Absolutely Chuffed: the Men Who Built a Steam Engine’ which was the most watched programme on BBC2 on Christmas Eve 2008.
Paying her way: the overwhelming majority of the £3m needed to build Tornado was raised through regular donations (covenants), dedicated donations to sponsor particular components, legacies, a £500,000 bearer bond issue, corporate sponsorship (principal sponsor William Cook Cast Products Ltd) and some bridging finance from Venturesome and individuals. In addition to overhauling and converting Mark 1 BCK coach E21249 into Tornado’s dedicated support coach, all of the borrowings have been repaid and notice given for the repayment of the bond some three years earlier than required. This leaves only Tornado’s tender which is on a 15 year lease from William Cook Cast Products to be purchased, leaving the Trust debt free.
Mark Allatt, Chairman, The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, commented, “It’s hard to believe that it is already five years ago that Tornado first turned a wheel in anger. 70,000 miles and countless adventures later Tornado continues to do what she was built for – hauling express passenger trains on Network Rail at speed, thrilling and enthralling passengers and line-siders alike. None of this would have been possible without the dedication, professionalism and generosity of our covenantors, volunteers, contractors and other supporters. As the plaques attached to Tornado state, ‘this locomotive was built and paid for by people who shared a vision and were determined to turn it into reality.’”