Welcome to New Build Steam

Welcome to New Build Steam, a blog about the numerous projects currently ongoing in the UK to build new standard-gauge steam locomotives (including those re-using parts from ‘donor’ engines to recreate lost classes). It has been created mainly because it didn’t exist already: this seemed like an obvious topic for a blog-type website, but no single overview of these interesting projects appears to exist anywhere on the internet.

There is a broader appeal to these projects than the traditional appeal of steam preservation. Yes, there is the nostalgia and, for want of a better word, romance of recreating lost classes of steam locomotive. But there is also the challenge of making these ambitious dreams a reality: the question of whether the engine will ever get built hangs over every project, although in most cases the answer is probably ‘yes’: this uncertainty seems to appeal to some very British trait – the eccentric, the love of the underdog, the desire to conquer a challenge more because it’s there than because there’s a clear-cut material case for doing it. Each project will represent a feat of engineering, but also a great personal triumph for those involved.

There is also an odd paradox at work: this is about both creating something new and creating something old (5AT aside). It is both atavistic and forward-looking: the designs of these locomotives might be old, but if built they will be the steam engines running on our main lines in fifty years’ time, with the current generation of preserved engines in much lighter use, many more of them no doubt confined to museums than now.

It will most likely be several years before the next of these projects produces an engine capable of moving under its own power, following the completion of Tornado, the locomotive which seems to have inspired so many groups as it took shape over the last twenty years. There will, however, no doubt be much to say about the progress towards completion on all these projects as they inch forward.

Coming up on the blog over the next fortnight will be a short summary of each project we know about (please tell us about any omissions!), then posts containing news as it happens – in all likelihood it will be updated in fits and starts somewhat, as new developments emerge. This won’t try to be the most up-to-the-minute news source, breaking stories or anything dramatic like that – rather, the aim of this site is to provide a convenient and reasonably up-to-date resource for those with a casual or somewhat stronger interest, as well as those new to the subject.

If you’re new to the subject of new build steam, do remember that all of these projects are looking for volunteers, supporters and donors – please consider checking them out via the links on the left.

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