By Phil Marsh

Putting a face to Prince of Wales

Published: 6th July 2015

Gresley Society Trust sponsors P2 new built locomotive smokebox

The distinctive smokebox – the ‘face’ of the locomotive – for new-build Gresley P2 2-8-2 No. 2007 Prince of Wales is being sponsored by The Gresley Society Trust.

The Gresley Society Trust was established in 1963 to sustain the legacy of Sir Nigel Gresley. The sponsorship includes design changes, rolling and assembly of the smokebox barrel and the smokebox/boiler and smokebox front rings. The trust’s support also covers the smokebox door and most fittings, the chimney pattern and machining and other smokebox-related components including most handrails and knobs.

Variations on a theme

“The class P2s were Sir Nigel Gresley’s equivalent of Sir Edward Elgar’s ‘Enigma Variations’ – each of the six built were slightly different to one another but to an original theme, commented Gresley Society Trust chairman, David McIntosh. “The seventh P2 will complete the development work started in 1934 but unfinished due to other projects and the Second World War.

Only ten locomotives designed by Gresley survived dieselisation in the 1960s and The Gresley Society Trust, owners of the oldest surviving Gresley locomotive [GNR N2 No. 1744] is delighted to be able to support the construction of the newest and most powerful – No. 2007 Prince of Wales.”

Gresley’s P2 2-8-2 ‘Mikado’ locomotives were the most powerful passenger steam locomotives to operate in the UK but the design was never fully developed. They were rebuilt in 1943-1944 and scrapped by 1961. The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust (a registered charity and builders of new A1 No. 60163 Tornado which was completed in 2008 – the first new main line steam locomotive to be built in Britain since 1960 and the first to be paid for by public subscription) is constructing the seventh member of this class through its P2 Steam Locomotive Company subsidiary. The new P2 will, like Tornado, be numbered as the next in the series – No. 2007.

The project has an estimated cost of £5million with the aim of completing the rolling chassis next winter and the new P2 entering main line service in 2021.

Progress to-date

The frame plates for both locomotive and tender have been rolled and profiled with the loco frames erected at Darlington Locomotive Works. All 20 wheels (loco and tender) have been cast with the eight 6ft 2in driving wheels proof machined and tyres delivered.

Other progress includes all major engine frame stays, brackets and horn blocks being cast and machined (26 in total) with a further 16 axle box and buffer castings underway. Orders have been placed for wheelset roller bearings, axles, crank pins and over 1,000 fitted and driven bolts.

Preliminary discussions have been held with boiler manufacturers and forged foundation ring corners manufactured and machined – and the nameplates have been delivered and chime whistle ordered!

Over £1.8million already pledged

Over 670 people have already signed up to the ‘P2 for the price of a pint of beer per week’ (£10 per month or more) covenant scheme since its launch a year ago. In addition to this core scheme, funds have been raised through The Founders Club (over 360 people have donated £1,000 each – target 100 people, now closed), The Boiler Club (over 80 people have pledged £2,000 each - target of 300 people) and Dedicated Donations (£120,000 from existing supporters sponsoring a variety of components).

Overall, the project has received pledges of over £1.8million (including Gift Aid) towards the required £5million over the next seven years. “I would encourage all steam enthusiasts who haven’t yet contributed to this exciting project to help us meet these deadlines by becoming a monthly covenantor or joining The Boiler Club, urged A1 Steam Locomotive Trust chairman, Mark Allatt. “This year will see further major announcements as the construction of new Gresley class P2 No. 2007 Prince of Wales gathers pace.”

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