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Tornado Raises a Storm in St. James's Park

Mark Allatt, Chairman A1 Locomotive Steam Trust - account of the Lecture by Peter Lindop

Talk held on Tuesday 2nd March 2010.

On the 2nd March we welcomed Mark Allatt, the Chairman of the A1 Loco Steam Trust - the owners of60163 "Tornado". This turned out to be one of the most well attended speakers in recent years (if not all time).

Entitled 'The Tornado Story: from Dream to Steam', the illustrated talk covered the epic story of how a conversation in a pub turned into a generation long struggle to build a steam locomotive from scratch, by asking members of the public to donate 'the price of a pint'.

The Al Steam Locomotive Trust, a registered charity, built Peppercorn class A1 Pacific 60163 Tornado at its Darlington Locomotive Works to haul charter trains operating on Network Rail. Fitted with additional water capacity and the latest railway safety electronics, Tornado is fully equipped for today's main line railway. The class Al's were designed by Arthur H Peppercorn for the London & North Eastern Railway and 49 were built in 1948/49 by British Railways. However, following the dieselisation of the railways, all were scrapped by 1966.

The project to build a new Peppercorn class Al was launched in 1990 and after 18 years of planning, construction and fundraising, the 3 million locomotive was completed in August 2008.  Following tests and trials, first on the Great Central Railway, Loughborough and thereafter on the Network Rail main line based out of the National Railway Museum, York, Tornado hauled her first main line passenger train on 31st January 2009. Tornado was named by HRH the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall at York station on 19th February 2009.

Funds to build Tornado have been raised through deeds of covenant, donations, commercial sponsorships, (principal sponsor, William Cook Cast Products Ltd) commercial loans, and a Bond issue. The Trust  is still seeking to raise funds to repay the outstanding 600,000 borrowed to complete her construction.

Tornado starred in an episode of 'Top Gear', first shown in 2009 and watched by over seven million people, racing a 1949 vintage Jaguar XK120 car and Vincent Black Shadow motorcycle from London to Edinburgh, with presenter Jeremy Clarkson on the footplate.

Frequently headlined in the press and on TV, No. 60163 Tornado was the subject of a BBC documentary 'Absolutely Chuffed, The Men Who Built a Steam Engine' broadcast Christmas Eve 2008 on BBC2 and now available from the Trust on DVD.

Mark Allatt, Chairman of The Al Steam Locomotive Trust, commented: "Tornado has had a hectic first year of main line operations stretching right across the country.