Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Tata Steel wins nostalgic order for steam loco No 2007 Prince of Wales

Tata Steel wins nostalgic order for steam loco No 2007 Prince of Wales 

As I'm so excited about this particular news item I can't leave you - or me! - in suspense any more; here's that first promised post.  This news is hot off the press today!

Some readers will doubtless be aware of Tornado (or to give it its full designation, LNER Peppercorn Class A1 60163 Tornado), which in 2008 became the first new-build steam locomotive to be constructed in this country since 1960 and the only existing example of its type.  It has appeared on this blog several times before (in news items here, here and here) and in the intervening 6 years has become a roaring success - breaking records, making innumerable heritage railway & mainline appearances (where it is allowed to travel at speeds commensurate with modern trains) and generally winning the hearts of all who see it.

So successful has Tornado been, in both construction and service, that the people responsible for creating it - the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, based at Darlington Locomotive Works - began seriously contemplating the building of another engine.  Now I'm delighted to see that - under the name P2 Steam Locomotive Company - they're going "full steam ahead" with their plan to construct a Gresley Class P2 locomotive, to be named 2007 Prince Of Wales in honour of HRH's 65th birthday.

Gresley Class P2 2001 Cock O' the North, c.1934source
Like Tornado's original Peppercorn Class none of the Gresley P2s (which numbered six) have survived, meaning that the Prince Of Wales will again be the sole example when it is completed (although it takes the 2007 number in deference to the original six).  The P2s, designed by famous railway engineer Sir Nigel Gresley, were the most powerful engines in the country when they were introduced in 1934.  Built to be able to pull over 600 tons of railway carriages on the London-Aberdeen route they, like so many locomotives from the early '30s, were soon eclipsed by the more glamorous A1s (Mallard et al).  Sidelined by the Second World War they were extensively rebuilt between 1943-44 and eventually scrapped in the switch to electrification during the Sixties.

Thanks to modern computing and design technologies, as used and refined in the building of Tornado, the construction of the Prince Of Wales should go ahead well - provided the funds can continue to be found (see here and here, or e-mail enquiries@p2steam.com to find out how to contribute).  This latest news shows that work is already underway at the Tata Steel Scunthorpe facility to create the engine frames, with many more parts set to be produced by this valued partner.  It is also fortunate (although doubtless intentional) that P2s shared around 70% of their design with A1s, so the majority of parts will be easily replicated with the equipment to do so now very much in place.  Even so, the project is estimated to take 7 years - still a vast improvement on the 14 years it took to bring Tornado to fruition.  As much as I hardly can, I'm sure it will be well worth the wait nonetheless.  One of the most powerful express locomotives ever once again running full chat along our national rail network?  And maybe yet more new steam engines after that?  Yes please with knobs on! 


  1. This is splendid news! How are they funding the project? Is there a fund people can chip into?

    1. I think it's just reliant on donations. If you've got a spare £1k lying around you could become a member of The Founder's Club, otherwise they seem to be open to [regular] donations, sponsorship/sponsor a part etc. E-mailing enquiries@p2steam.com would likely be the best way to find out.


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