Modern Steam Locomotive Construction

One of the major attractions of almost all the many tourist railways in the UK and throughout the world is the continued use of steam traction. Most standard gauge lines in the UK use locomotives that were previously in revenue earning service, either with British Rail or with any one of a number of industrial operators. However, the newest of these locomotives is now more than half a century old, and the possibility of constructing replacements against such time as maintenance of the originals becomes untenable is being seriously considered.

A number of small, specialized engineering firms regularly build steam locomotives for narrow gauge and miniature railways, but the construction of an all new, main line steam passenger locomotive is a major project. It is pleasing to note, therefore, that there are a number of such projects in progress in the UK, with one already completed. These are the ones that the author is aware of:

A1 Steam Locomotive Trust

60163 Tornado

New A1 Pacific 60163 Tornado
on the East Coast Main Line south of Newcastle-upon-Tyne

After 18 years of effort, in 2008 the trust suceeded in its aim of completing the construction from scratch a modern replica of an A1 Pacific, designed by AH Peppercorn for the London & North Eastern Railway but ultimately contructed in 1948/49 by the then newly formed Britsh Railways. All the original examples were scrapped by 1966.

The new locomotive, 60163 Tornado, made its debut on the Great Central Railway, Loughborough in August, 2008 and has since operated a number of main line excursions.

P2 Steam Locomotive Company

Gresley Class P2 2001

Gresley Class P2 2001 Cock o’ the North

The same team that created Tornado are now constructing a replica of a Gresley class P2 locomotive. As with Tornado, it will be given a new name and number - in this case 2007 Prince of Wales. The frames and wheels are almost complete and work continues.

1014 Great Western County Project

Hawksworth County Class 1022

Hawksworth County Class 1022 County of Northampton

This project was initiated in the early years of the 21st century to recreate a locomotive of the County class designed by FW Hawksworth of the Great Western Railway. The original design made use of components that were readily available at Swindon Works towards the end of the Second World War. These included frames from Hawksworth’s own “Modified Hall” design (a development of the Collett “Hall”) and boilers constructed at Swindon for wartime freight locomotives based on the Stanier 8F design. The first locomotive of the County class entered traffic in 1945. All were scrapped in the 1960s.

The 1014 Project is not strictly a new build project as it was intended use components from existing locomotives; however, the end result will recreate a locomotive of which no examples survive. The replica will use “Modified Hall” frames and the boiler of a Stanier 8F, from which the Swindon design was derived. A new set of wheels would be required, as these were slightly larger than those of the “Hall”. Most components have been obtained and construction is well in hand.

LMS Patriot Project

Impression of the new Patriot class locomotive

An artist’s impression by Colin Wright
of the new Patriot class locomotive, 45551 The Unknown Warrior

This project started in 2007 and, like Tornado, is essentially a project to build a new, working locomotive from scratch.

Many of the original Patriot class carried the names of regiments or of individual recipients of the Victoria Cross, and of course one of the locomotives was named Patriot, giving its name to the class. The new locomotive will carry the name The Unknown Warrior and will be dedicated as a National Memorial, with the full endorsement of the Royal British Legion.

Fundraising and build progress have been encouraging, and it is hoped to have the locomotive running by 2018, the 100th Anniversary of the Armistice.

GCR 567

MS&LR no.567 at Gorton Works

Official photograph of Manchester, Sheffield & Lincolnshire Railway locomotive no.567 at Gorton Works when newly built.
The Manchester, Sheffield & Lincolnshire was a predecessor to the Great Central.

A project to recreate a Victorian era locomotive, the Parker designed class 2 4-4-0 of the Great Central Railway, which later became class D7 of the London & North Eastern Railway.

A number of important components have been donated but the locomotive will be predominantly new build. Fundraising commenced in 2011. Construction has progressed as far as the cutting of the frames.

Brighton Atlantic

Brighton Atlantic

A Brighton Atlantic leaves Farnborough with an Air Display special in 1950.

A project to recreate a London, Brighton and South Coast Railway class H2 Atlantic, as operating under the Southern Railway and British Railways. The locomotive represented will be 32424 Beachy Head.

Many components have been recovered from old locomotives but a substantial amount of adaptation and new fabrication is still required. Frames, wheels and motion are nearly complete. A boiler, tender frame and wheels have been acquired. Work is progressing well but further funds are required.

British Railways Standard Class 3MT 2-6-2T

BR Standard Class 3MT 82045

Artists impression of the completed 82045.

A project to build a new British Railways Standard Class 3MT 2-6-2 Tank locomotive, no examples of which survive. The locomotive will take the number 82045, the next in sequence after the last built by British Railways.

This locomotive will be almost entirely new build. Frames are complete, work is in hand on cab, bunker, smokebox and axleboxes. Fundraising continues.

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Text & layout © 2005-2015 Glyn Williams
Photo of Tornado by Ian Britton from under terms of Creative Commons license
Artist’s impression of 45551: © The LMS-Patriot Company Ltd
Copies of the original print may be purchased from the Company
Photo of 1022: uncredited image from website of the Didcot Railway Centre
Photo of MS&LR 567 taken from a publication by GCR 567 Loco Group
Original image believed to be public domain
Photo of Brighton Atlantic by Ben Brooksbank from Wikipedia under terms of Creative Commons license
Artist’s impression of 82045: © The 82045 Steam Locomotive Trust