88 year old Alan Golton gets on-board Gresley class P2 No. 2007 Prince of Wales after an 83 year delay

88 year old Alan Golton gets on-board Gresley class P2 No. 2007 Prince of Wales after an 83 year delay..((A1 Steam Trust)

The team building Britain’s most powerful steam locomotive, Gresley class P2 No. 2007 Prince of Wales, were delighted to welcome 250 passengers from ‘The Talisman’ railtour to Darlington Locomotive Works on Saturday 6th May to view their progress. On the train, hauled by The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust’s first new build steam locomotive No. 60163 Tornado, was one very special guest, 88 year old Alan Golton, who had waited 30,290 days to see and hopefully ‘cab’ a Gresley class P2.

The class P2 2-8-2 ‘Mikado’ locomotives were the most powerful passenger steam locomotives to operate in the UK, designed by Sir Nigel Gresley to haul 600 ton trains on the arduous Edinburgh to Aberdeen route.  Sadly, the design was never fully developed and they were rebuilt in 1943/44 and scrapped by 1961.  The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust (registered charity and builders of famous new 100mph steam locomotive No. 60163 Tornado) is building the seventh member of this class over seven years at an estimated cost of £5m. The project will demonstrate how the design can be fully realised through use of modern computer design techniques, enabling the new locomotive to deliver its full potential hauling passenger trains at high speed across today’s national network.

Alan Golton, a retired university lecturer and Church of England minister, now residing in Grenoble, France, picks up the story:

“On a hot summer’s day in June 1934 I was taken by my father and a friend of his to the London & North Eastern Railway’s open day in the station goods yard at Ilford, Essex. The sun was beating down and the railway yard was full of fine locomotives and teak carriages.  The already-famous No. 4472 Flying Scotsman was there, standing close by to No. 8900 Claud Hamilton, which was sporting a dazzling white cab roof and highly burnished steel rimmed smokebox door.

“A brand-new apple-green apparition, with a sleek streamlined front end, complete with a novel sloping smokebox door, was receiving a lot of attention from the crowds.  The locomotive was, of course, the first of Sir Nigel Gresley’s class P2 2-8-2 ‘Mikado’ locomotives, No. 2001 Cock O’ The North.  No. 2001 was brand new, only a matter of a couple of weeks out of Doncaster works, and was destined to be the most powerful express passenger locomotive in the country.


“Visitors could go into the cabs of most of the locomotives and we queued alongside the large 6ft 2in driving wheels of Cock O’ The North eager to cab the P2.   But I never got my opportunity to cab No. 2001 – overcome by heat exhaustion I fainted by the locomotive and was taken to a medical tent to be revived by smelling salts before being taken home.

“Living close by to the LNER works at Stratford I got subsequent opportunities to get up close to LNER locomotives.  I recall walking through the tender corridor of Flying Scotsman into its cab at another open day.  But I never saw Cock O’ The North again.  I never did get the opportunity to cab a P2 – or at least, I thought I never would.

“One of my sons, Matthew, works in the railway industry as the Commercial Development Director for Great Western Railway.  Through his friendship with Trustees of The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, Matthew was aware that a new Gresley class P2, No. 2007 Prince of Wales, is being constructed.  Through a very kind invitation from The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust I was offered the opportunity to travel to Darlington and achieve what I failed to achieve in 1934 – to finally cab a P2!

“My wife and I travelled over especially from the south of France where we now live and on 6th May Matthew and I travelled up to Darlington on the Trust’s special train ‘The Talisman’ behind No. 60163 Tornado. It was exciting to take in the front end of No. 2007 at the Trust’s Darlington Locomotive Works.  The sloping front door and the streamlined fairing is stunning.  I was impressed by the care that it is being taken to create this locomotive – exemplifying the best of British engineering.

“Matthew had tracked down some fine photographs that E.R. Wethersett had taken of the actual open day at Ilford that I had attended all those years ago.  He had bought me an enlarged print of Cock O’ The North, complete with the scaffolding staircase to the cab that I never got to ascend. The Trust’s Director of Engineering David Elliott, assisted by fitter Ian Matthews, kindly got me a step ladder so that I could at last get into the cab of a P2.  You can see from the photograph the pleasure that this achievement brought.

“It was a real pleasure to subsequently travel back in style to London behind Peppercorn class A1 No. 60163 Tornado – the first time I have travelled behind steam on the UK mainline since the 1960s.  Matthew and I had worked out it was something like 30,290 days since I had first tried to cab a P2.  The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust is truly making great strides with its creation of No. 2007 Prince of Wales.  With another four years of effort a P2 will hopefully take to rails.  With good health and God’s grace I hope that I can go one better next time and travel behind a P2.  It shouldn’t be such a long wait this time!”

(A1 Steam Trust/P2)

Public interest in seeing a new Gresley class P2 become a reality sooner rather than later is high and well over 800 people have already signed up to the ‘P2 for the price of a pint of beer per week’ (£10 per month or more) covenant scheme since its launch three years ago.  In addition, funds have been raised through The Founders Club (over 360 people donated £1,000 each – target 100 people), The Boiler Club (Over 115 people have pledged £2,000 each – target of 300 people), The Mikado Club (just launched and over 150 people have pledged £1,000 each – target 160 people) and Dedicated Donations (over £200,000 from existing supporters sponsoring a variety of components). This means that the project has already received pledges of over £2.4m (including Gift Aid) of the £5m needed.


Mark Allatt, Trustee and P2 Project Director, The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, commented:

“We were delighted to make Alan’s dream come true after an 83 year wait and look forward to welcoming him back into No. 2007 Prince of Wales’s cab when the new locomotive is completed and in steam.

“The Trust is very pleased with the support the project to build Britain’s most powerful steam locomotive has received since its launch three years ago, with over £2.4m of the required £5m pledged to-date. We are confident that we will have the engine on its wheels this autumn and remain on-track for completion in 2021. However, to maintain this progress we need to raise £700,000 per year. 2017 will see further major announcements as the construction of Prince of Wales gathers pace.”