Posts Tagged ‘Tornado’

Tornado helps recreate rescue train

Friday, 4 September 2009


Sir Nicholas Winton in 1939 with one of the children he rescued.
Photo Winton Train.

From the Toronto Sun.

In December 1938, 29-year-old London stockbroker Nicholas Winton was preparing to take a skiing vacation with a friend in Switzerland. But that friend — who worked in the British Embassy in Prague — insisted Winton come to Czechoslovakia instead to see what was happening there.

What Nicky Winton found in Prague in December 1938 were refugee camps filled with families, many Jewish, who had fled the Nazis and had nowhere else to run. Because no one would take them in.

Winton could not leave Prague. He became fixated on getting the refugees to safety, especially the children. Using a table in his hotel’s lounge area as his office, Winton began writing every possible government to find safe haven for the children of the Prague refugee camps. And parents began seeking him out to have their children listed for transportation to safety.

The only governments willing to allow entry were Sweden and Britain — Britain reluctantly, and only if every child had a sponsor signed up to take him or her in and only if a 50-pound surety (a considerable sum at that time) was paid for each child.

Winton shifted his one-man rescue mission back to London and began lining up sponsors for his children.

Throughout his hectic eight-month mission, Winton said the Nazis were not as much of a problem as was the British bureaucracy. The Nazis simply wanted to be paid to give the children through-passage (sometimes doubling the payment demand at the last hour) but the British were blind foot-draggers. Few in the British government thought the refugees were in immediate danger. War? What war? We gave Hitler Sudetenland. Everything’s fine.

As 1939 dragged on and the British government dragged its heels, Winton and his growing organization took to printing forged admission papers for children who were approved, but whose papers were not forthcoming.

“We didn’t bring anyone in illegally,” Winton says. “We just speeded up the process.”

Sir Nicholas Winton, 100, was at London’s Liverpool Street station this morning to welcome passengers on board a very special ‘steam special’ from Prague named after him. The train organised by Czech Railways, followed the route taken 70 years ago by 8 trains that he organised that brought 669 mostly Jewish children to the UK. A ninth train, with 250 children on board, had been due to leave on 1 September 1939 – the day war broke out. German troops prevented the train’s departure, then, under Gestapo orders, the train moved out. The 251 children aboard were never seen again.

Twenty-two of the original evacuees took part in the anniversary journey. The A1 Locomotive’s Trust A1 pacific Tornado hauled the British leg of the trip from Harwich to Liverpool Street Station.


Three cheers for Prince Charles!

Sunday, 7 June 2009


HRH, The Prince of Wales, Zac Goldsmith and others at the launch of the Revolve Eco Rally at Hampton Court in June 2007.

(From a photo by RevOlvin, click to see original and details of licensing.)

Three cheers for the way The Prince of Wales responded to the D-Day crisis, and with scant regard for protocol, obtained an invitation from President Sarkozy to honour the British soldiers who gave their lives on the Normandy beaches. We have no private source of information whether the absence of an invitation to the Queen was the result of President Sarkozy’s determination to keep the commemoration an American-French affair or whether the cause was Gordon Brown’s wish not to be up-staged. In the event, Prince Charles’s performance was regal and dignified, in stark contrast to the political posturing going on elsewhere.

Prince Charles suffers from a hostile press which mocks his beliefs and regularly ignores the valuable work that he carries out through his charities such as The Prince’s Trust and PRIME. While some of this may mirror the drop in the Prince’s popularity following his disastrous marriage to Diana Spencer, and the manner of the Princess’s death, in fact the hostile press articles started well before his marriage got into difficulties. It difficult to escape the conclusion that the Prince’s espousal of causes such as organic farming, holistic medicine and traditional architecture has upset major vested interests who have manipulated the media in an attempt to clip the Prince’s wings and limit his influence.


TRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, with A1 Trust chairman, Mark Allat, looking on, name brand new Peppercorn A1 class pacific, Tornado, 19 February 2009.
Photo A1 Trust

For lovers of Britain’s railway and industrial heritage, the Prince plays a vital role as a national figurehead. He fills the space vacated by the death of stalwarts such as Sir John Betjeman and Fred Dibnah. These days, there’s scarcely an important heritage railway event which the Prince does not personally support, whether it is the reopening of the Severn Valley Railway after major flood damage, or the naming of the A1 Trust’s Peppercorn pacific Tornado. The Prince helps to provide public recognition of the amazing achievements of British railway enthusiasts. This recognition helps them with their negotiations with all the official bodies who have to be brought on side before a railway project can be nursed to its ultimate success.

We have it on very good authority that when Howard Jones was collecting his MBE, the Prince congratulated Howard on all the good work he was doing to preserve the Polish narrow gauge railways. Howard was understandably somewhat miffed because his amazing achievement was in persuading PKP to leave at Wolsztyn as the last steam shed in the world servicing standard gauge locos rostered for regular mainline passenger traffic. Perhaps, the Prince – a keen supporter of the Welsh narrow gauge – had in mind the extent to which Howard’s Wolsztyn Experience helps to cast an international spotlight on Poland’s minor railways as well?

In Poland the future of the country’s railway heritage hangs on a thin thread – the victim of a shock transition from communism to Latin-American style capitalism, Poland’s burgeoning bureaucracy, the lack of official recognition and absence of public support. Perhaps it may be unrealistic to hope that on his next visit to Poland the Prince might find time to visit Wolsztyn and travel on the footplate (or even drive!) one of the Ol49s on the Wolsztyn – Poznan turn and maybe even drop in to see the Smigiel Railway next door. Wishful thinking or not, in a country which lacks a powerful national advocate for its railway and industrial heritage, such recognition would give the Polish railway preservation movement the shot in the arm it desperately needs.



The magic of steam

Saturday, 4 April 2009


2008 built, Peppercorn A1 pacific, 60163 approaches Newcastle on Saturday 31 January 2009, hauling her first main line train carrying passengers, The Peppercorn Pioneer. Photo Wikipedia Commons.

(Click to see original high resolution photograph and details of licensing.)

There is a great article in today’s Times by Michael Binyon which nicely captures the magic of steam. It is steam that draws people to ride on heritage railways. It is steam that brings tens of thousands to Wielkopolska to photograph Europe’s last scheduled main line steam service and it is steam that could yet come to the rescue of Poland’s crumbling heritage railways.

All aboard for the new age of steam

Tornado, the engine that has brought back the romance of rail travel, is a hit across the length and breadth of Britain

Wherever it has ventured, it has attracted crowds of people. As it raced up to the North or cruised down to Southampton, thousands turned out to wave and cheer. Children were hoisted aloft. Men hung from bridges and stood on car roofs.

Enthusiasts waited hours in muddy fields for a fleeting view. At King’s Cross throngs blocked the platforms and when it blew a cloud of steam over the Duchess of Cornwall in York, the Prince of Wales burst out laughing.

Indeed, in its six short months of life, Tornado, the first mainline steam engine built in Britain for almost 50 years, has been a film star, splashed across newspaper pages and filmed in action by the thousands who contributed to its £3 million cost and waited 18 years to see an A1 Pacific locomotive running on Britain’s main lines again.

Click here, for the rest of the article.

Alas, too many of Poland’s historic steam engines are not chuffing along the lines to which they belong. Instead they are ‘plinthed’ outside railway stations, or locked up in skansens, or stored in sidings known only to scrap thieves. Open air storage, particularly in Poland’s extreme weather conditions, means slow death to a complex iron and steel machine.

Binyon’s article should be translated into Polish and be sent to all Polish local authorities that own narrow gauge railways that are operated by Romanian diesel locomotives. It makes my blood boil that the Mayor of Rewal who has launched a 34 million PLN EU assisted project to restore his fragment of the Pomeranian narrow gauge railways is spending most of the money on buildings and not a single zloty is earmarked for acquiring a steam engine or rolling stock restoration.

Meanwhile a few people have seen the light. The Mayor of Smigiel is meeting Howard Jones on Monday to discuss the possible restoration of Px48 1765 to working order. The Mayor of Krasne, the custodian of the Mlawa Railway, would love to hear from a ‘well off Englishman’ or a consortium of Brits who would wish to become a ‘godfather’  to his derelict Px48 1758 and help him restore the locomotive to working order. Favourable terms available. He would even consider alternate years working on the Mlawa Railway and the narrow gauge railway of the benefactor’s choice. I guess that depending on how much work was actually carried out by consortium members, such a project would cost some 200,000 – 250.000 PLN, approximately 41 – 50,000 GBP.

So how about it BTWT readers? We can’t all build a main line pacific, but we could restore a narrow gauge Px48 to active life!

Mława Railway videos:

Tornado and the Duke,

Monday, 2 February 2009

probably the most advanced steam locomotives in the world.

60163, Tornado, hauling the Peppercorn Pioneer, North of Darlington on the East Coast Main Line Saturday 31 January 2009.  Video nymfootage.

60163’s maiden main line run in revenue earning passenger service on Saturday is all the excuse that we needed to post another video clip of the locomotive running at speed. Through the magic of You Tube and the Internet there is quite lot of video material to chose from. (Just go to You Tube and type ‘Tornado A1’ into the search box.) We were highly selective. We wanted a clip that conveyed something of the power of the locomotive and that was also reasonably professional. 

Nymfootage’s clip is in our eyes, the best clip by far. The cameraman has gone to immense trouble to choose a location that gives him a long panning shot of the locomotive working at speed. The camera is set up on a tripod and the panning and zooming effects are used sparingly and professionally. The result is an impression of immense power, like a greyhound being held back on a leash or a race horse being taken for a light trot. The clip is only marred by wind noise. An external ‘gun mike’ with a decent windshield would have easily cured the problem.

60163 is fitted with a Kylchap exhaust, as originally specified by Peppercorn for his A1 pacifics. The result is a free steaming locomotive that combines the seemingly contradictory design goals of a good draught through the boiler and minimum back pressure in the cylinders. From the lineside the locomotive sounds more like a well-tuned diesel than a traditional steam locomotive. We will probably be lynched by the steam fraternity for saying this! 

60163 is a three cylinder express locomotive built by the A1 Locomotive Trust between 1990-2008. Apart from design changes which were necessary to accommodate modern manufacturing techniques and contemporary safety regulations, the locomotive follows the 1946-47 design drawings of Arthur Peppercorn. The Peppercorn A1 class is a logical progression of the engineering work of Sir Nigel Gresley, former Chief Mechanical Engineer of the LNER, and the designer of A4 Mallard, the fastest steam locomotive in the world.

A final note, the locomotive has not had her naming ceremony yet. (There are rumours that it is to be performed by HRH Prince Charles.) which is why we refer to her as 60163 rather than Tornado.

71000, Duke of Gloucester, hauling the Tynesider near Bradbury on the East Coast Main Line. Saturday 2nd February 2008. Video nymfootage.

Having found the clip of 60163 running at speed we looked at some of Nymfootage’s other work and were delighted to find this amazing clip of BR 8P ‘Standard’ pacific 71000 Duke of Gloucester. Again the location has been carefully chosen to show the locomotive running at speed and an impression of massive, yet contained, power is conveyed.

The ‘Duke’ was designed in 1952-53 by BR CME, Robin Riddles, and incorporated the revolutionary Caprotti valve gear, but with severe time and budget constraints, the design was not properly ‘debugged’ and the single locomotive was not considered a success. After a short working life of 8 years, the locomotive was sent to the scrapyard minus its cylinders. One of these was sectioned and set up with its valve gear in the Science Museum in Kensington.

In 1973 the locomotive was rescued from Barry scrapyard by the 71000 Preservation Society. The Society later became the 71000 Duke Of Gloucester Steam Locomotive Trust. A 13 year rebuild followed, during which all the known design defects were put right. The ‘Swindon’ double chimney was replaced with a Kylchap exhaust, and a new ashpan was constructed which admitted more air to the firebox.

In 1986 the ‘Duke’ steamed again working first on the preserved Great Central Railway and later on the BR main line. A major overhaul was completed in 2004 when the opportunity was taken to ‘tune up’ the locomotive’s valve gear and effect a number of other improvements. The result is that today, the ‘Duke’ is the most powerful steam locomotive to work in Great Britain.

Tornado, 1st main line passenger run

Monday, 26 January 2009


Tornado in apple-green livery after its unveiling at the National Railway Museum in York. Photo P Neesam, courtesy A1 Steam Locomotive Trust

(Sorry for the cut off buffer. That’s the way the photo was cropped when we received it. Ed.)

Tornado, the first new main line steam locomotive to be built in Britain for almost 50 years, will haul her first passenger train on the Network Rail main line from York to Newcastle-upon-Tyne and return on Saturday 31st January 2009. This train, The Peppercorn Pioneer, is for the supporters of The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust who raised the funds to build the new Peppercorn class A1 steam locomotive over the past 19 years.

The train is a repeat of the one hauled by the last Peppercorn class A1, 60145 Saint Mungo, on 31st December 1965 shortly before she was scrapped, and will consist of 13 carriages, equating to about 500 tons, and will run at up to 75mph. The new £3 million Peppercorn class A1 60163 Tornado will be wearing her new apple green livery with ‘British Railways’ on the tender as carried by the first 30 of the original 49 Peppercorn class A1s when built.

Speaking about Tornado’s first passenger train on the Network Rail main line, Mark Allatt, chairman of The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust said:

‘Tornado’s’ first main line passenger train is the end of another chapter in the story of a project thatmany said could never be completed. In 1990 a group was formed with a vision and the determination to make it succeed – to build and operate a Peppercorn class A1 Pacific steam locomotive for main line and preserved railway use. 18 years later, and thanks to that shared vision and determination, ‘Tornado’ turned her wheels in anger for the first time on 1st August 2008 in front of the world’s press. It is thanks to our more than 2,000 regular monthly and other donors, our sponsors led by William Cook Cast Products Limited and the hard work of our volunteers and contractors that the project has achieved so much. The Trust is now looking to the great British public to help us keep ‘Tornado’ on the main line by making a donation, sponsoring a component, taking part in our covenant scheme and/or our £500,000 bond issue.

On Saturday 31st January 2009, Tornado will follow the timings below from York to Newcastle and return:

Departs York station at 12:07
Passes Northallerton at 12:36
Passes Darlington at 12:48
Passes Durham at 13:06
Arrives Newcastle Central Station at 13:21
Departs Newcastle Central station at 16:34
Passes Durham at 16:51
Passes Darlington at 17:10
Passes Northallerton at 17:22
Arrives at York station at 18:00

The second run of The Peppercorn Pioneer on Sunday 1st February 2009 will now start from Doncaster with 60163 Tornado, picking up at York and running through to Durham. This change of itinerary is because the Trust has been advised by Network Rail and the British Transport Police that due to significant concerns regarding crowd control at Newcastle Central station on Sunday 1st February, Tornado’s second train cannot operate through to Newcastle. The return journey will be hauled by Tornado from Durham to York with a modern diesel locomotive returning the train from York to Doncaster. It should be noted that Tornado will not be at Newcastle Central station at any point on Sunday 1st February.

However, a limited number of tickets are now available to the general public on this second train, their first opportunity to travel behind Tornado on the main line. They are priced at £69.00 for Standard Class and £95.00 First Class and are available through the Trust’s booking agent Steam Dreams on 01483 209886.

The second run of The Peppercorn Pioneer on Sunday 1st February 2009, which will be hauled by Tornado from York to Durham and return, will follow the timings below:

Doncaster – Platform 1 – 11:56hrs
York – Platform 11 – 12:27-12:48hrs
Durham – Platform 2 – 14:10-14:15hrs
Durham – Platform 1 – 17:50-53hrs
York 18:57-19:28hrs
Doncaster – 19:52hrs

Further information

For details of how to help or where to travel behind Tornado telephone 01325 4 60163, visit or email

£3 million new build A1 pacific steamed today

Friday, 1 August 2008

Peppercorn A1 pacific 60163 Tornado a few weeks before today’s test run,
photo, The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust

New build Peppercorn A1 pacific, 60163 Tornado, made its first public move under her own steam in Darlington at 11:00hrs today.

The new A1 class (there was an earlier Gresley class with the same designation) was designed by Arthur Peppercorn as the final embodiment of express passenger steam locomotive design for the London and North Eastern Railway. The newly formed British Railways constructed 49 Peppercorn A1s in 1948/49 at their works in Doncaster and Darlington. By 1966, 17 years after the last member of the class was built, all the A1s were scrapped. There was an abortive attempt to preserve the last survivor of the class 60145 St Mungo. The project to build a new Peppercorn class A1 was launched in 1990 and, after 18 years of planning, construction and raising over £2.9 million, 60163 Tornado made her first public run today.

Mark Allatt, chairman of The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust commented:

Tornado’s first public move in steam marks the beginning of the final phase for a project that many said could never be completed. In 1990 a group was formed with a vision and the determination to make it succeed – to build and operate a Peppercorn class A1 Pacific steam locomotive for main line and preserved railway use. 18 years later Tornado is complete. It is down to our more than 2,000 regular monthly and other donors, our sponsors lead by William Cook Cast Products Limited and the hard work of our volunteers and contractors that all that remains now between Tornado and main line operations is the successful completion of her test and trials programme, first on the Great Central Railway at Loughborough and then on Network Rail.

With 4th August marking the 40th anniversary of the end of British Railways steam and 6th August the 60th anniversary of the entry into traffic of the first Peppercorn class A1 60114 WP Allen, there could be no better time to celebrate steam’s second coming and no better way than the completion of the first new main line steam locomotive in Britain for almost 50 years. When this project was launched in 1990 many people said that it could not be done. The completion of the construction programme proves the doubters wrong and means that there is only £66,000 to pay for test and trials and less than four months between now and Tornado’s main line début.

The A1 Trust has built Peppercorn Class A1 Pacific 60163 Tornado at its Darlington Locomotive Works and when certified it will be used on 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. Over £2.9m has been raised to-date through deeds of covenant, commercial sponsorship (principal sponsor William Cook Cast Products Limited) and through a bond issue. In order to get Tornado on the main line as quickly as possible the Trust needs to raise a further £66,000 on top of its existing pledges.