UK main line 'Mikado' engine taking shape

Gresley class P2 No. 2007 Prince of Wales.
Wheels now fitted to Britain's most powerful steam locomotive 'Prince of Wales'
Published Wed, 2018-09-19 10:41

The project to build Britain’s most powerful express passenger steam locomotive today announced that it had fitted the pony truck wheelset to new Gresley class P2 No. 2007 Prince of Wales.




Gresley class P2 No. 2007 Prince of Wales. © A1SLT
The rear Cartazzi wheelset was fitted in early 2018 and the eight 6ft 2in driving wheels in July 2018, which means that there will be a main line ‘Mikado’ in existence in Great Britain for the first time since 1945.

The Gresley class P2 2-8-2 ‘Mikados’ were the most powerful express passenger locomotives to operate in the UK. They were designed by Sir Nigel Gresley in the 1930s to haul 600 ton trains on the arduous Edinburgh to Aberdeen route. Sadly, the design was never fully developed and they were rebuilt by his successor Edward Thompson into ungainly class A2/2 4-6-2 'Pacifics' in 1943/4, and scrapped by 1961.

The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust (A1SLT - registered charity and builders of famous new 100mph steam locomotive No. 60163 Tornado) is building the seventh member of this class at its Darlington Locomotive Works (DLW) over seven years, at an estimated cost of £5m through its P2 Steam Locomotive Company subsidiary. 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 Whyte notation for classifying steam locomotives by wheel arrangement was devised by Frederick Methvan Whyte in the early twentieth century. In the notation a locomotive with one leading axle (two wheels) in front, then four driving axles (eight wheels) and then one trailing axle (two wheels) is classified as 2-8-2 and commonly referred to as a ‘Mikado’. The name ‘Mikado’ originated from a group of Japanese type 9700 2-8-2 locomotives that were built by Baldwin Locomotive Works for the 3ft 6in gauge Nippon Railway of Japan in 1897. In the 19th century, the Emperor of Japan was often referred to as “the Mikado" in English and the Gilbert and Sullivan opera The Mikado had premiered in 1885 and achieved great popularity in both Britain and the USA. Although the most numerous wheel arrangement globally, only eight standard gauge ‘Mikados’ operated in Great Britain, two Gresley class P1 freight locomotives (introduced in 1925 and both scrapped in 1945) and six Gresley class P2s (introduced in 1934 and all rebuild by 1944).


The wheeling of No. 2007 Prince of Wales was funded by 200 members of The Mikado Club of The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust who each donated £1,000 plus gift aid towards the project. The total cost of the wheeling, including all components, is estimated at around £400,000. A selection of wheeling-related parts – including a 6ft 2in driving wheel at £12,000 – are still available for sponsorship under the Trust’s Dedicated Donations scheme.


Mark Allatt, P2 Project Director and Trustee, 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, over £3m has now been donated or pledged.
“The fitting of all of the wheels to the engine and therefore creating the first standard gauge ‘Mikado’ in Great Britain since 1945 marks a significant milestone in the construction of No. 2007 Prince of Wales. Thanks to the dedication and generosity of our supporters, we remain confident that we are on-track for completion of new Gresley class P2 locomotive No. 2007 Prince of Wales in 2021."

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