(P2 Steam Locomotive Company Image)

The Mikado Club funding the wheeling of No. 2007 Prince of Wales reaches 90% of extended £250,000 target

The project to build new Gresley class P2 steam locomotive No. 2007 Prince of Wales is delighted to announce the achievement of significant milestones both in construction and fundraising. The crank axle has been delivered to Darlington Locomotive Works (DLW) following its assembly by South Devon Railway Engineering Ltd at Buckfastleigh, Devon and finish machining by Unilathe at Stoke on Trent. In addition, The Mikado Club fundraising initiative to pay for the wheeling of the engine and tender has reached 90% of its revised target of £250,000 pledged almost three months earlier than anticipated.

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.

The delivery of the crank axle is a critical milestone for the project being the culmination of a long and expensive process including Finite Element Analysis (FEA) carried out by the railway engineering consultants, Mott MacDonald at Derby to eliminate a weakness in the original design that resulted in fracturing of the crank axle. It is anticipated that the fitting of wheels and tyres will take place in March which will complete the wheelset.It is hoped to have the engine wheeled by spring 2018.


Crank Axle Arrives. (P2SLC and Mandy Grant Images)

The Mikado Club was launched at the end of March 2016 to raise £200,000 from 160 members to wheel the engine and was extended in June 2017 to 200 members and £240,000 to also wheel the tender. The work involved wheeling the engine to create the first standard gauge ‘Mikado’ since 1945 includes:

  1. Machining axle and cannon box castings, manufacturing roller bearing details
  2. Boring eight coupled wheel bosses to finished size
  3. Assembling bearings and cannon box onto pony truck axle
  4. Assembling bearings, cannon and axle boxes onto plain coupled axles
  5. Trial fitting coupled axles to frame
  6. Pressing Cartazzi wheels onto axle, fitting & machining tyres and fitting bearings & axleboxes
  7. Pressing plain coupled wheels onto axles, fitting and machining tyres
  8. Assembling crank axle, fitting bearings & axleboxes, pressing wheels onto crank axle, fitting and machining tyres
  9. Finish machining crank bosses & boring crank pin holes and machining & fitting all crank pins
  10. Trial fitting wheelsets to frames at DLW.


Public interest in seeing a new Gresley class P2 become a reality sooner rather than later is high and over 840 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 (130people have pledged £2,000 each – target of 300 people), The Mikado Club (180 people have pledged £1,000 each – target now raised from 160 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 the project has already received pledges of over 54% (including Gift Aid) of the £5m needed to complete the new locomotive by 2021.

Other recent progress includes:

  • Frames: manufacture of spring hanger brackets is well underway with the combined frame stay and four spring hanger brackets fabrication nearing completion at North View Engineering Solutions Limited at Darlington. Four brake hanger brackets have been completed and are now fitted to the frames
  • Wheelsets: crank axle assembled and delivered to DLW. Cartazzi wheelset now complete and delivered to DLW, along with the Pony Truck axle. Three plain coupled axles being finished machined at Unilathe at Stoke on Trent. Final batch of cannon boxes and axle boxes expected to be delivered shortly from Timson Engineering at Kettering
  • Sandboxes: the original class P2 locomotives were fitted with gravity sanders for the leading coupled wheels and steam sanders for the driving (second) coupled axle – no back sanders were fitted; with No. 2007 likely to do significant work in reverse, mostly on heritage railways, haulage of substantial loads over significant gradients running tender first is likely to happen; all will now be air operated as per Tornado. All six sandboxes fitted to the frames along with their sand fillers and pipes
  • Fittings: the steam manifold and its associated valve body castings are being machined and having details made. The blower valve has been completed. Machining of the casting and manufacture of details for the exhaust steam injector is underway
  • Brake & spring gear: good progress has been made by I D Howitt of Crofton in manufacture of brake hangers and spring gear details
  • Boiler Cladding: a jig had been built to form and erect the boiler cladding. All the crinoline rings and battens have been formed and fitted to the jig, followed by approximately half the boiler cladding sheets
  • Tender: an order had been placed with ID Howitt of Crofton to construct the tender frames following their success with the similar frames for Tornado’s tender. Details are being worked up following the excellent sponsorship offer made by Cleveland Bridge UK at Darlington to construct the tender tank. The axles and tyres for the tender have been ordered. Most of the castings for the tender have been manufactured by William Cook at Sheffield
  • Design: the principle focus for design effort is the poppet valve gear and details of the cylinder block to enable approaches to industry for quotations to manufacture.


P2 Roadshows – last stop Aberdeen

We continue to promote the P2 Project as widely as possible and have already held eight P2 Roadshows this year in London, Peterborough, Doncaster, York, Darlington, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Dundee. All were very well attended and resulted in substantial donations and sign-ups on the day, with more coming in over the following weeks. The presentations run from 11:00hrs to 13:00hrs on each of the days listed below, no booking is required, admission is free and open to existing supporters and interested members of the public:

  • Saturday 25th November 2017 – Aberdeen Jury’s Inn, Aberdeen.


These presentations are open to anyone wanting to know more about the project and we are encouraging our existing supporters to bring along interested family and friends.

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

“The delivery of the crank axle for No. 2007 Prince of Wales and the early hitting of 90% of the revised £250,000 pledged target for The Mikado Club mark two significant milestones in the project to build our new Gresley class P2 ‘Mikado’. We are delighted with the level of support that the project to build Britain’s most powerful steam locomotive has received since construction started only three years ago. Thanks to our supporters’ continued generosity, well over £1.3m has been spent on construction, over £1.7m donated and over £2.7m pledged.

“We are confident that we will have completed the rolling chassis for No. 2007 Prince of Wales in spring 2018 having already reached 90% of our revised fundraising target for The Mikado Club and we remain on-track for completion of the new locomotive in 2021. However, to maintain this rate of progress we need to raise more than £700,000 per year, which given the nature of the regular donation scheme becomes more challenging as each year passes. We 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. 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 continues to gather pace.”