The first steam engine built to run on the UK mainline for almost 50 years has made a successful trial run.
Tornado was funded and assembled by steam enthusiasts in Darlington in an 18-year project costing £3m.
The 72ft (22 metre) engine is based on the Peppercorn A1 locomotive, which British Railways withdrew from service in the 1960s.
The loco made its first public move under its own steam on Friday morning in front of a crowd of onlookers.
Once fully running and certified it will be used to haul charter trains operating on Network Rail.
The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust project has raised more than £2.9m through deeds of covenant, commercial sponsorship and loans, but a further £66,000 is needed to pay for tests and trials. 'Shared vision'
Mark Allatt, chairman of the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, said: "When this project was launched in 1990 many people said that it could not be done.
"The completion of the construction programme proves the doubters wrong.
"Tornado's first public move in steam marks the beginning of the final phase for a project that many said could never be completed.
"In 1990 a group was formed with a vision and the determination to make it succeed - to build and operate a Peppercorn class A1 Pacific steam locomotive for main line and preserved railway use.
"Eighteen years later, and thanks to that shared vision and determination, Tornado has turned her wheels in anger for the first time.
"It is thanks to our more than 2,000 regular monthly and other donors and the hard work of our volunteers and contractors that all that remains now between Tornado and main line operations is the successful completion of her test and trials programme."
Friday's event was attended by Dorothy Mather, president of The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust and widow of the designer of the class A1s.
Alsohttp://www.bbc.co.uk/tees/content/articles/2007/12/03/a1_tornado_feature.shtmlFull steam ahead
It started as pub talk amongst a group of railway enthusiasts, but now an ambitious plan to construct a Peppercorn A1 class Pacific steam locomotive in Darlington is very nearly complete.
It's the stuff that locomotive enthusiasts' dreams are made of. Nestled in the Hopetown Carriage Works in the heart of the town that gave birth to the railway, a group of life-long train fans are building a steam engine entirely from scratch.
Using the exact same plans that the original engines were made from, this Peppercorn A1 class Pacific steam locomotive, named 'Tornado', has been under construction since 1990, but as the project enters its 18th year, 2008 should see the 'Tornado' flying along tracks around our region.
The scheme is being funded by industrial sponsors and a public donation program, which invites people to purchase various parts of the locomotive and buy a piece of steam engine history in the process.
Ian Howitt, a member of the engineering team, explains how the group formed.
"It started, as most of these things do, with a group of men sat around in a pub having had far too much to drink and saying how sad it was that none of these locomotives were preserved, and as the drink flowed and the evening wore on the idea of building one crystalised.
"The engine is a reconstruction of a the last design of LNER steam locomotive. The project has been going for around 17 years and it'll eventually cost not far short of £3m."Getting started
It's an enormous task, so how did they decide to start constructing the locomotive?
"Well, you sit and look at the drawings for a long time and you start with a piece of metal.
"We began with the frames, but there is a great tendency to start with the cab or the smoke box because they are items that people recognise readily, but you just sit down and get the pattern makers to make the patterns and just make one bit at a time and hope they all fit together at the end.
"The thing that has dictated the rate of progress has been getting the money in. Once you've got £10,000 you could afford to make the frame plates, and then once you've got another £40,000 you can make a cyclinder pattern and so on.
"However, once we came to the boiler, which was a £400,000 lump sum, of course the person making it wants his money in one go so that changed the funding priorities and we put more effort into getting industrial sponsorship and grants, which has worked quite well.Challenging
The team are now close to finishing the project and will test the boiler in January 2008, but people had their doubts as to whether they would ever complete it.
"It's a wonderful project that many people thought couldn't be done but we're now on the last stages of it and the locomotive will be steaming and running next year.
"15 of these original engines were built in Darlington at the North Road works, but they were building these things as a commercial enterprise and they were there to do a job, but because we're all enthusiasts everything is just that little bit better finished.
"You've got to be very careful with a steam engine because if you make the thing too good and too tight then it will seize up, so there's a fine line in having it too good and having it just perfect, and we're aiming for just perfect.
You can hear more from Ian and take a tour around the Tornado by clicking on the links above.Touring the Tornado http://www.bbc.co.uk/tees/content/image_galleries/a1_railway_gallery.shtml