New year, new website: New Build UK
Welcome to the last news round-up of 2019 – which will also, as announced last time, be the final one on Happily, it’s now possible to announce that a successor site, New Build UK, will be launched in 2020. The new site will be editorially separate from, and located at a different web address. It will cover a wider scope, including diesel and narrow gauge projects, and aim to deliver a broader range of content, including video. A brief post will be published here on to let you know when it is live, and where to find it. Followers of this site on Twitter and Facebook won’t need to do anything – the social media feeds will be transferred to the new site.

So, there’s plenty to look forward to in 2020, in terms of both a new website and, more importantly, the completion of at least one further new build steam locomotive. So with that in mind, please enjoy the rest of this news round-up.

60163 Tornado

Tornado departing Leicester on 19 December, by Rob Reedman on Flickr, reproduced under Creative Commons licence BY-NC-ND 2.0.

There is a good deal of interesting operational and planning detail relating to Tornado in recent announcements. Among the updates at the Trust’s annual convention in November was news on coaching stock: the Trust is now facing less pressure to procure appropriate coaching stock, thanks in part to a new relationship with West Coast Railways at Carnforth (long-time readers will recall that WCRC for some years did not provide crew or support to Tornado). Delays in cascading Mk3 stock from main line use mean that the Trust has an opportunity to review its plans, and a decision will be made over the next year – though obtaining its own coaches remains the objective.

On Tornado itself, winter maintenance of the locomotive and support coach are due to take place at Leeming Bar on the Wensleydale Railway. The A1 has had a strong year after its return to traffic, with only a few repairs required – one such was to the front air pump, which was successfully swapped for an overhauled spare and has now been returned to Meiningen for overhaul.

An unexpected engineering link with vintage London Transport stock has also been established: the Trust has obtained some accommodation bogies (for supporting vehicles whose own bogies have been removed) from Crewe. Marks discovered on them as they were stripped for overhaul suggest they originated with stock used on London’s Central Line in the 1920s (possibly new components for re-builds of the line’s original trains, which were reconfigured more than once during their working lives).

Over in Meiningen, manufacture of major components for the first of the two new boilers (which is bound for Tornado in the first instance) has commenced, after design queries were answered by the Trust.

Steam Engine Firebox Cookout on Tornado – 22 December (Shropshire Lad)

Tornado and the final ECML HST set exchange whistles and horns – 20 December (Twitter)

The Communication Cord, Autumn 2019 – 5 December (PDF)

Tornado on the Severn Valley Railway again! – 9 November

Steve Davies MBE joins A1 Trust board – 16 October

Tornado Telegraph – December 2019 (PDF)

Tornado Telegraph – November 2019 (PDF)

Tornado Telegraph – October 2019 (PDF)

6880 Betton Grange

Photo by 6880 Betton Grange Society

There have been several landmark moments for Betton Grange in the last couple of months, with a successful hydrailuc test on its donor boiler, the first fire lit, and then the successful completion of the boiler’s steam test. This clears the ways for reuniting the boiler with the frames, and completing the build.

Last working party before Christmas – 14 December (Facebook)

Painting valve chest cleating – 13 December (Facebook)

Boiler passes steam test – 9 December

First fire – 17 November

New parts on display – 16 November (Facebook)

Boiler now awaiting hydraulic test – 7 November

Weekend of progress at Tyseley and Llangollen – 6 November (Facebook)

32424 Beachy Head
The Brighton Atlantic is another locomotive to have passed a major milestone this autumn: the boiler has now passed its hydraulic test, and the group feels its unofficial target for completion of summer 2021 remains ‘fairly realistic’. Elsewhere, progress continues to be made on both the tender (its tank now on the chassis) and boiler cladding.

Latest news

The group has also announced that after Beachy Head is completed, they will begin work on a second new build locomotive: a South Eastern and Chatham Railway E-class 4-4-0, an Edwardian design originally built to haul expresses and boat trains on routes around the Kent coast. Like the Atlantic, this will be a Bluebell Railway project, and has been approved by its three governing bodies: the Preservation Society, Company and Trust.

3MT 82045

Brake hangar – photo by Tony Massau

The Standard class 3 tank is now due to steam in the final quarter of 2021, or first quarter of 2022. Work on the boiler is still awaiting the completion of the boiler for the Stanier mogul, though it might start more quickly depending on when the first two of the boilers being made for the Isle of Man Railway leave the workshop. However, 82045 will be the boiler shop’s major contract in 2020, and delivery is due in mid-2021 – completion of the locomotive is forecast to take six months from that point.

A working group will meet early in 2020 to discuss plans for the launch of 82045, and for supporting it in service.

In terms of recent progress, the pony trucks are approaching completion, and planning is underway for their installation under the locomotive.

News Update – December 2019

News update – November 2019

News Update – October 2019

A very short (6 second!) video showing the side control movement of the rear pony truck, taken by Peter Line.

5551 The Unknown Warrior
The year of change for the Patriot project has continued right up to the end of 2019. Following the company’s AGM in November, Chairman David Bradshaw and Engineering Director Steve Blackburn have both stepped down. In its statement announcing the news, the Board emphasised the steps it is taking to see the project through to completion, including the recruitment of two new trustees and more robust forward planning. Deputy Chairman Kevin Finnerty is stepping in as Acting Chairman ahead of the appointment of a permanent successor. [EDIT: David Bradshaw has provided this further information on recent events in a comment on this post, and Patriot Project Director Colin Hall has made this brief statement in response.]

The group’s burgeoning relationship with the Princess Royal Class Locomotive Trust is shaping its work on both organisational an engineering fronts, and both the Board’s statement and the latest engineering update outline multiple ways in which this is happening. Engineering meetings are now taking place at the PRCLT’s West Shed facility, and Board meetings nearby. The Board will be working with the PRCLT on a review of requirements for operating on the main line, and the Trust’s considerable experience in this area is already being drawn on. This has included on the ongoing work to rectify problems identified with work done at Llangollen, which is expected to absorb considerable effort well into 2020.

As this might suggest, the group now expects not to meet its aspiration of completing the locomotive in time to mark the centenary of the repatriation of the remains of the unknown warrior in November 2020, although it will be announcing plans for commemoration activity in the coming months.

A further, new setback was encountered when defects were discovered in dome castings for five new boilers for Isle of Man Railway locomotives, under construction at the Severn Valley Railway. As the Patriot’s dome came from the same foundry, it had to be x-rayed – just after it had been riveted to the boiler. The inspection identified similar flaws to those in the IoM domes, and a new process for casting and testing the domes has now been agreed between the foundry and boiler insurers. The first of the new IoM castings has been completed successfully

More happily, the project’s quarterly Warrior magazine has been nominated for a Heritage Railway Award (ceremony and results on 8 February). The most recent edition always remains exclusive to project members, so the newest available edition (from August) can be found via the link below.

Latest on the Patriot Tender – 22 December (Leaky Finders Facebook)

Wheelset News! – 13 December (Facebook)

Heritage Railway Association Communications Award – 3 December

Announcement by the LMS-Patriot Company – 2 December

Engineering update, November 2019 – 2 December

A weekend of hard work on 5551 – 24 November (Facebook)

5551 boiler update – 21 November (HBSS Facebook)

The Warrior issue 42 – August 2019 (PDF)

2007 Prince of Wales
The Trust’s annual convention saw a detailed update on progress on Prince of Wales. In particular, it was announced that while ‘substantial completion’ by the end of 2021 as planned remains theoretically possible, in practice completion in 2022 is now expected. This is partly due to the rate at which resources can be made available, and also to the diversion of engineering resource (ie David Elliott) onto Tornado following its failure. Design work is in some cases also taking longer than hoped for, particularly as much heavier re-design work is needed for the P2 compared to the A1. However, the list of items anticipated to be complete by the end of 2020 remains impressive, and overall more than two thirds of the necessary funds for 2007 have now been secured.

Rapid progress on the tender tank – 4 December (Twitter)

Eight wheels on my tender….. Part 1 – 4 November

Fundraising passes the two-thirds mark – 22 October

An audience with Prince of Wales in Darlington – 16 October

Mikado Messenger – December 2019 (PDF)

Mikado Messenger – November 2019 (PDF)

Mikado Messenger – October 2019 (PDF)

2013 Prince George
Work on the LNWR 4-4-0 continues with two key areas of focus: design work, and construction of the elements that will complete the outline of the top part of the locomotive. On the design side, the project has obtained grant support from the European Union to cover part of the cost of a new professional CAD system, after it increasingly found it was hitting the limits of what its previous system, Fusion 360, could achieve. Work on the boiler design is nearly complete and will be re-created in the new system. Another addition has been student Chali Chaligha, who is working on the project for the ‘sandwich’ part of his mechanical engineering course. After the boiler, the cylinder block, main frames and crank axle are on the shortlist for design attention. The cab design has also received some attention, and the group now believes it can preserve the overall look of an LNWR cab while modifying it to avoid fouling the modern main line loading gauge.

In terms of construction, the dome has now been formed – its shape made creating the pattern a surprisingly demanding operation in the end. The gaps in the running plate for each side have been filled, and the aim is to roll the boiler barrel sooner rather than later, to complete the look of the locomotive above the running plate. With a significant number of components now accumulated, the group is in discussions with several parties to seek a long-term site for construction, and possibly an interim location in the shorter term.


Running plate, hot off the welder – 14 November, Facebook

More regular news updates from the Night Owl project continue to offer insight into progress, which is expected to ramp up shortly with progress on several major elements of the build. The cylinder block has been re-designed by Bob Meanley at Tyseley to reduce the total width and the height of the saddle; the Vehicle Acceptance Body has signed the design off, and work on the casting is expected to start in January. After the fitting of further elements at Llangollen by the end of March, the chassis is due to be moved to Tyseley to receive the cylinders.

December newsletter (PDF)

October newsletter (PDF)

3840 County of Montgomery
Progress on the 4-4-0 County has included the delivery of two cab-side number plates, the appeal to fund the coupled wheels reaching the 25% mark, and a chimney being obtained, ex of 4953 Pitchford Hall.

Cabside number plates delivered – 11 December

Video: CCT chairman Gary Boyd-Hope reveals the number plates

Driving wheel appeal passes quarter-way mark – 11 December

CCT seeks chance to win £1,000 festive boost – 7 November

1014 County of Glamorgan
Work has commenced on the boiler barrel for the County 4-6-0, and other areas of progress include the crossheads (cast, and due for machining), vacuum cylinder and tender.

Crossheads and tender – 18 November

Barrelling along – 14 October

35011 General Steam Navigation
The most recent update on 35011 covers a working party in November, where progress included removing more boiler tubes and trial fitting the new trailing truck springs and beam.

Productive working weekend – 10 November (Twitter)

V4 3403
At its annual convention, the A1 Trust announced that it has formally placed the order with its Darlington Locomotive Works for the construction of class V4 locomotive 3403. The order was placed in October, on the 80th anniversary of the original order on the LNER’s Doncaster Works for the two original V4s. The formal launch of the project remains due in spring 2020.

G5 1759
The most recent update on the G5 was an invitation to the latest open day, and to see new components delivered that week. Open days will re-commence in March.

Last open day of 2019 – 28 October (Facebook)

F5 789
All driving and trailing wheels for the F5, plus a pattern for the former, have now been ordered from Micro Alloy Castings Ltd of Stourbridge.

Engineering news – 17 November

Engineering news – 19 October

61673 Spirit of Sandringham
The B17 project has entered a phase of discussions with potential partners about orders for items needed to complete the rolling chassis, pending design approval and documentation from their Vehicle Acceptance Body.

Construction progress

72010 Hengist
The frames remain a major focus of work on Hengist, although with bogie castings due to arrive early in 2020 there is increasing attention on that area too. This has included creating new drawings – although the group has the original BR drawings, these are being re-created in modern formats for the benefit of suppliers. On the frames, drilling and bolting has commenced, after much checking of measurements and alignment. In an interesting window on CTL Seal’s other clients, work on Hengist briefly slowed for a time as the company had to complete an urgent order for six oil rig anchors.

Latest news

Trial fitting of one of the three sand boxes – 16 December (Facebook)

Front bogie frame plate tack welded together – 9 December (Facebook)

Cab door latches fitted – 2 December (Facebook)

Build Diary, December

News archive, December (active after end of month)

Sample of drawings converted to CAD – 25 November (Facebook)

Front bogie wear plates with mounting bolts – 25 November (Facebook)

Fitted bolting completed for main frame strategic bolts – 25 November (Facebook)

Front bogie main stay – 18 November (Facebook)

Strategic fitted bolting in progress – 11 November (Facebook)

Most internal bolts holding stretchers now in place – 4 November (Facebook)

Build Diary, November

News archive, November

Busy day for the Monday gang – 28 October (Facebook)

Front bogie bolster pads – 21 October (Facebook)

Smaller items – 14 October (Facebook)

Build Diary, October

News archive, October

And finally
That brings us to the end of the final news round-up on As was half expected at the start of this year, some modest slippages have prolonged the expected three year period of regular project completions to four years (2019-22) in which we can expect to see half a dozen locomotives completed: the Saint (now running), Grange (surely nailed on for 2020), Patriot, Brighton Atlantic, Standard class 3 tank, and P2.

You will be able to follow these developments and more on the new New Build UK website. For, it has been a pleasure to chronicle this corner of heritage rail movement over the last nine years, and I’d like to thank everyone who has offered kind words of appreciation for the site’s coverage. In starting this site, I wanted not just to fill a news gap in the world of heritage rail, but to do it well, so it has been nice to hear from so many satisfied readers.

Please welcome New Build UK and be similarly supportive of it: I know it is a site that is being launched with both enthusiasm and ambition, and of course you will find differences between it and this site. I hope you find it meets the same need of providing a one-stop-shop for news on all new build projects.

It only remains now for me to thank you for reading the site, posting comments, contributing to the Flickr pool (which will continue!), and spreading the word on social media; and, finally, to wish you a happy and peaceful new year, for 2020 and the years beyond.

John Kell
Editor, 2011-2019