The pace of developments on the new build scene being relatively relaxed, it looks like an update every month or so will be about right for this blog. That said, the last month (more like six weeks, if we’re honest) since the last update have seen some significant developments.

Tornado being reassembled in York prior to its steam test; the tender on the left is Flying Scotsman's, but Tornado's repainted cab can be seen on the right. Photo by CARLOS62 on Flickr

The A1’s boiler has now been returned from Germany and reunited with its frames. A full account of its boiler troubles has yet to be published (and may never be), but it is reported that some structural modifications have been made to the boiler which, it is hoped, should prevent the problem re-occurring. Online discussion around the subject has, for the most part, generated more heat than light.

Tornado underwent a successful steam test on April 15th and an intense schedule of work is now underway to return it to traffic for the Cathedrals Express on May 26th, from London to Bath and Bristol. There will be some test runs prior to that, on which the engine’s Brunswick green livery will be debuted – though there are reports that its tender is having to be painted a second time owing to an inaccurate shade having been applied at first…

45551 The Unknown Warrior
According to the project’s official website a new axlebox pattern has been created. Additionally, its Facebook page has pictures of the refurbishment of the reclaimed LMS buffers that will be used on the engine.

The groups’s latest update shows progress on the smokebox saddle.

72010 Hengist
There seems to be some upheaval, or at least potential upheaval, in the Clan pacific project. Chairman Paul Burns has resigned, as has his wife, and an EGM is due to be held at Barrow Hill on May 7th. No reasons have been given publicly, but all comments seen by New Build Steam have paid tribute to Burns’ hard work on the project over the years.

Internet chatter suggests that the EGM could lead to major decisions about the project, from reorganisation to abandonment, although it is unclear how well-informed this is (although Hengist does appear to be one of the projects with the strongest base of online support). The official website has not been updated to reflect this development.

8783 Lady Hamilton
There may be another new build project to add to the list soon. A group whose ‘aim’ is to build a new Claud Hamilton 4-4-0 launched its new website in March. The focus on the word ‘aim’ is deliberate, though: it’s not totally clear whether the group has a firm intention to go ahead with the project. Although the website suggests thinking is quite far advanced, elsewhere it seems to be saying that they are still weighing up interest in the project before deciding to proceed.

To this end, there are two public meetings planned, in Norwich and Derby – more details will no doubt be announced on the website before long.

Finally, although this site is for new build projects, there are a few significant preservation items worth remarking on. Firstly, the return to steam of 6023 King Edward II is surely one of the most remarkable ‘Barry wreck’ restorations, the locomotive having spent more of its life (so far) in scrap condition than running condition.

Secondly, there has been a ‘new’ A4 on the main line, with 60019 Bittern masquerading as 4492 Dominion of New Zealand, the first time for nearly twenty years there has been a garter blue A4 in steam.

Last but not least, Flying Scotsman will be returning to steam later this year, after a rebuild so mechanically exhaustive that its boiler will be brand new bar the barrel. The implications for new build projects of this step forward (one trusts!) in boilermaking for steam locomotives in the UK remain to be seen, but no doubt many of the groups aiming to construct larger engines will be watching with interest.

King Edward II 6023 3
6023 King Edward II. Photo by ahisgett on Flickr