Britain first steam train built in for 50 years makes its maiden journey

Posted on 2:31 PM by Sameer Shah

It is a scene from a bygone age - one of sooty railway platforms and smoke-filled waiting rooms.

Yesterday afternoon, the Tornado - the first steam locomotive to be built in Britain for close to 50 years - undertook its maiden journey.

Thousands packed the platform at the National Railway Museum in York to wave the train on its way as it departed in a triumphant plume of steam at 12.07pm, hauling 13 carriages behind it.

Seats were reserved for around 450 VIPs who had helped to raise the £3 million needed to build the steam engine from scratch.

Each paid £99 for the 90-mile inaugural run from York to Newcastle upon Tyne and back. For many of the enthusiasts, however, the five-hour round trip was worth every penny.

One passenger said: 'It was a moment that took me back to watching black and white movies, such as Brief Encounter.

As I stood on Platform Ten beneath the clock at York Station, the smell and the sounds of the train's arrival evoked another world. Its whistle blasted and the whole platform was engulfed in smoke, which smelt like a glorious open fire.'

The 18-year project had proved a labour of love for a group of railway enthusiasts who decided to build a new engine from scratch in 1990. They donated £1.25 a week - then the price of a pint of beer - for nearly two decades.

It was a peppercorn fund - appropriate enough for Peppercorn Class A1 Pacific 60163 Tornado, based on the locomotives built by Arthur H. Peppercorn for the London and North Eastern Railway in the late Forties and later scrapped by British Rail in the Sixties.

The last A1 steam locomotive Saint Mungo made its final journey on the same stretch of track on December 31,1965.

With steam trailing behind them, those travelling on the new train - which reached speeds of up to 75mph - enjoyed the dramatic views sipping champagne.

The Grade II-listed viaduct, which comprises 11 semi-circular arches 60ft wide and 76ft high, was designed by engineer Richard Cail.

He worked alongside Thomas Elliot Harrison, the railway company's engineer-in-chief, on the masonry-fronted arches and brick soffits, which reach across Durham's King Street in an elegant curve.

Work began on the viaduct in 1855 and was completed in 1857.

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