The first steam train to be built in Britain since 1960 took to the tracks yesterday. The Peppercorn class Tornado cost £3 million to build and she carried her passengers on the Great Central railway in Loughborough, Leicestershire.

The last Peppercorn A1 in Britain was scrapped in 1966.

Britain, of course, invented the train and the railway.

The world's first steam railway locomotive was introduced in Britain by Richard Trevithick in 1804.

The world's first railway was the Stockton and Darlington Railway, in Yorkshire, which opened on 27th September 1825 (this was at a time when British engineering and industrial prowess, which led the world at the time, must have had foreigners visiting Britain amazed at the futuristic, technologically advanced society that Britain was compared to everywhere else).

In 1830, George Stephenson's "Rocket" locomotive won the Rainhill Trials, a competition to find the best steam locomotive. Stephenson won £500 (a lot of money in 1830). The Rocket eventually went on to carry passengers, and it achieved a top speed of 30 miles an hour. At the time, that was the fastest that any human being had ever achieved, and many politicians and scientists throughout Britain were concerned that the huge speed of 30mph could kill the passengers and crew!

First steam engine built in Britain for 50 years takes to the tracks

By Daily Mail Reporter
22nd September 2008
Daily Mail

Railway history was made today when the first steam locomotive to be built in Britain in almost half a century took to the tracks.

Enthusiasts painstakingly assembled the Tornado, based on a design that vanished from the network in the 1960s, over the course of 18 years.

And their dream was at last fully realised when the engine carried its first passengers on the historic Great Central Railway in Loughborough, Leicestershire.

The Tornado, the first brand-new steam engine to be built in Britain since 1960, leaves the Great Central Railway station in Loughborough, Leicestershire, today, for the first time with paying passengers

The Tornado, the first steam loco to be made in this country since 1960, has been undergoing tests at the GCR for the past two months.

The government's railway inspectorate declared it fit to pull passenger trains after it reportedly performed "faultlessly" in a series of trials.

And today the first fare-paying members of the public to climb aboard were taken on a trouble-free 16-mile round-trip to Leicester and back.

The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, a group of rail enthusiasts based in Darlington, raised nearly three-million pounds to build the Tornado.

The engine is based on the Pacific locomotives designed by Arthur H Peppercorn for the London and North Eastern Railway in the late 1950s.

The famously powerful locos, built in Darlington and Doncaster, were the last of the East Coast Main Line's "thoroughbred express" series.

Full steam ahead: The Tornado heads off on its maiden journey this afternoon

Various examples of other engines assembled in the two towns were preserved, but every single Peppercorn A1 had been scrapped by 1966.

A1 Trust chairman Mark Allatt said: "This is a day we have been working towards for so long. It's a really big milestone for us and the engine.

"It's great that we can finally start pulling passengers. It's a real chance for people to be a part of history, and we're all extremely proud."

The A1 Trust has raised 2.9-million pounds to build and run the Tornado through deeds of covenant, commercial sponsorship and a bond issue.

After several more weeks at the GCR the engine will move on to the full rail network, where it will be allowed to pull charter passenger trains.

On the rails: The engine is the first to be built from scratch in Britain for 50 years

Train spotters: The brand new Peppercorn class A1 Pacific 60163 was built at a cost of £3 million and lucky investors and and invited guests boarded the train at Quorn station in Leicestershire today

Because it has been fitted with an additional water capacity and the latest safety gear, it is considered fully equipped for the modern-day mainline.

By contrast, the GCR, which has operated for 30 years, is the last place in Britain where steam trains can actually be seen passing each other.

It was chosen as the test centre for the Tornado because its "heritage" line has permission to run non-passenger trains at up to 60mph.

President Bill Ford said: "We're honoured to be involved with the Tornado, which has been the talk of the enthusiast community for years.

"Now that it's finally ready to run, it seems like the whole world is taking notice. We expect to be very busy indeed over the next few weeks."

Maiden voyage: The conductor sends off the Tornado today on a trouble-free 16-mile round-trip to Leicester and back

World first: The opening of the 26-mile long Stockton to Darlington Railway in Yorkshire, in 1825 - the world's first railway