This week features Tornado which unfortunately is not planned to come along the sea wall this year.
The A1 class of 4-6-2 Pacific locomotives totaled 49 in number and were ordered by the LNER but built after nationalisation by BR in 1948/9.
Arthur H Peppercorn, the Chief Mechanical Engineer improved on his predecessor Edward Thompson’s original design by increasing the grate area in the firebox to 50 sq ft
This enabled them to burn a lower grade coal that was available after the war making them more economical to run than the Gresley express locomotives that had gone before them.
The later loco’s in the batch to be built were also fitted with roller bearings which extended the time before their need for heavy overhauls to 118000 miles on average. The A1’s were very reliable in use and the most economical of any of BR’s express engines. Their sphere of operation was from London Kings Cross to the north east of England and Scotland. However the rush to bring in dieselization meant that the average lifespan of these engines was a mere 15 years when they would have been expected to last for 40 years. Unfortunately only one was spared the cutters torch. It was a close thing between 60145 St Mungo and A2 60532 Blue Peter but insufficient funds in the early days of preservation meant that only one could be purchased and saved and the latter of these two was chosen. Fortunately a group of enthusiasts saw the A1 as too big a part of our railway heritage to be missed and got together to create the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust , a registered charity, in 1990. Tornado was largely built with the finance coming from sponsors encouraged to commit to donating per month the equivalent of a pint of beer a week. (£1.25 a pint at that time). It took 18 long years before the loco was complete but has since proved most successful in gaining widespread appeal, as evidenced by the general public who still flock to see it whenever it runs either on the main line or on preserved railways. It was built and finally finished at Darlington in 2008 and was sent to the Great Central Railway to “run in” on their railway which links Loughborough to Leicester. At this time it was outshopped in a grey primer coat of paint and I was fortunate to catch a glimpse of it as it left Loughborough station on a gala weekend.
Before Tornado was put to use running on the main lines it was given the apple green livery of the LNER and fitted with a rimless chimney with British Railways on the tender as the A1’s were first seen in 1948. Seen here passing Langstone Rock on one of it’s Torbay express duties.
2010 saw a livery change to BR Express green usually known as Brunswick green and the lion and wheel motif that was used by BR between 1951 & 1956. (or from 1951 to 1956) The motif affectionally known as the cycling lion. The lipped chimney that the A1’s had for most of their lives also returned. Again the picture is of the Torbay Express but this time seen near Powderham church which is further back nearer to Exeter. This scene was also recorded on the video that follows.
For variety of my railway photography I have to leave the sea wall once in a while! This video is a compilation of the three Torbay Expresses in July 2011 that Tornado hauled.
Firstly out in the country at the end of Milbury lane in Exminster where good views of the line can be seen from the bridge over the Exminster by-pass or the railway bridge a little further along. The southern end of the M5 is in the background. The spectators in the field were fairly interested but had obviously seen it all before. Next in the sequence was taken at the start of the path to the Turf Hotel along the River Exe where the new Exe trail cycle path bridge has been built. We then miss Dawlish and view Tornado as it bursts out of Parsons Tunnel and onto the Teignmouth sea wall. Normally it is a bit annoying when people near you talk and make a lot of noise when you are obviously filming but I found it quite amusing how the wife gave her husband a rocket for missing the event on his camera. Too good to leave out. There but for the grace of God go I on occasion. We then move on to the return run and see Tornado speeding along Dawlish sea wall. I particularly appreciated the lady who insisted on stooping down so she didn’t get in the way too much of my filming. Lastly you hear Tornado announcing it’s arrival long before it rounded the bend at Langstone Rock before shaking the footbridge which was crammed with excited summer visitors to the Warren.
This photo taken on 30/5/11 at Minehead is highly unusual as it shows Tornado pulling wagons, a rarity indeed!
The next livery change in 2012 was only to change the tender BR motif to the later style (known as the ferret and dartboard) used between 1956 and 1965
The video here is somewhat spoilt by the addition of a bright red DBS 66 tucked in behind Tornado if you are a steam buff, but no doubt a delight to modern image fans!
The Cathedrals Express tour to Plymouth from Paddington was planned to be double headed by Tornado and 71000 Duke of Gloucester but unfortunately the Duke became unavailable.
As the train had 14 coaches it was necessary to add the diesel at Exeter as the Devon banks of Dainton and Rattery are just too steep to be tackled by a single engine although by all accounts Tornado had romped up the incline at Whiteball on the Somerset/Devon border beforehand.
In 2013 there was the bigger change to BR Express Blue, a livery which only lasted two or three years between 1948 and 1951 and was quickly dropped for the Brunswick green.
However Tornado looked very smart when it came through on a misty and miserable March day with a Cathedrals Express day trip from London to Plymouth.
Luckily the weather was a lot better at Totnes where some friends took these pictures as Tornado was charging forward to tackle the Rattery incline which starts immediately beyond the station.
Tornado is now back in its original apple green livery and retained the lipped chimney here on the Dawlish sea wall nearing Langstone rock as it heads back to Bristol.