£2.5m of required £5m already pledged and over £1.3m turned into metal

Pledges towards the building of new Gresley class P2 steam locomotive No. 2007 Prince of Wales, have already reached £2.5m in less than four years since the launch of the project in September 2013. The new locomotive is already over a quarter complete in terms of engineering effort, with over £1.3m spent to-date. This rapid construction has been fuelled by the project’s successful fundraising campaigns, which have seen donations and pledges of over 50% of the £5m required to complete Britain’s most powerful steam locomotive over 7-10 years. In only three years since the launch of the project’s ‘P2 for the price of a pint of beer a week’ (£10 per month) regular donation – or covenant scheme, funds either already donated or pledged by Standing Order have already passed £2m.

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, builders and operators 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.

Public interest in seeing a new Gresley class P2 become a reality sooner rather than later is high and well over 830 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.  In addition to this core scheme, funds have been raised through The Founders Club (over 360 people have donated £1,000 each – target 100 people, now closed), The Boiler Club (over 120 people have pledged £2,000 each – target of 300 people), The Mikado Club (over 160 people have pledged £1,000 each – target now raised from160 to 200 people and £200,000 to £250,000), Dedicated Donations (over £200,000 from existing supporters sponsoring a variety of components) and the sponsorship of the locomotive’s distinctive front-end by The Gresley Society Trust. This means that over £1.3m (more than a quarter of the total required) has been converted into metal, around £1.7m (over one-third) already donated and over £2.5m (more than 50%) donated or pledged.

Construction progress to-date includes:

  • Frame plates for engine and tender rolled, profiled and machined; engine’s frames erected at Darlington Locomotive Works; all major engine frame stays, brackets, hornblocks, axleboxes and buffers cast (44 in total); over 1,000 fitted and driven bolts ordered and delivered, approximately 800 now fitted to the frames
  • All 20 wheels for engine and tender cast and proof machined; roller bearings for all engine and tender wheelsets delivered; engine axles (including crank axle), tyres and crank pins delivered; tender axles and tyres ordered
  • Preliminary discussions held with boiler manufacturers and forged foundation ring corners manufactured and machined; start made on boiler fittings with castings for combined injector water and delivery valves
  • Study into ride and suspension using rail industry standard Vampire® software completed; Finite Element Analysis of improved crank axle design completed to demonstrate compliance with modern standards; assessment and Notified Body appointed to oversee certification –  first site visit made
  • Cab erected and cab side window frames fitted; engine footplating and splasher kits delivered and permanently fitted to frames
  • Smokebox door pressed details made and door completed, door frame manufactured, smokebox delivered and erected; chimney cast and fitted
  • Crosshead castings ordered
  • Boiler cladding assembly jig built, cladding crinolines and hoops rolled and fitted to jig, cladding sheets procured and rolled
  • Tender frame construction under way, axlebox and other tender castings ordered from William Cook Cast Products
  • Nameplates and chime whistle delivered.

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

“We are delighted with the level of support that the project to build Britain’s most powerful steam locomotive has received since its launch. Thanks to our supporters’ continued generosity £2.5m has now been donated or pledged of which over £1.3m has already been spent on construction.

“We are hopeful that we will have completed the rolling chassis for No. 2007 Prince of Wales next winter and we remain on-track for completion of the new locomotive in 2021. However, to maintain this rate of progress we need to continue to raise in excess of £700,000 per year, which given the nature of the regular donation scheme becomes more challenging as each year passes.

“I would encourage all steam enthusiasts who haven’t yet contributed to this exciting project to help us to meet these deadlines by becoming a monthly covenantor or joining The Mikado Club or The Boiler Club. It’s time to get on board! This year will see further major announcements as the construction of new Gresley class P2 No. 2007 Prince of Wales gathers pace.”