TORNADO is celebrating its tenth birthday with a weekend of special tours from its birthplace of Darlington later this summer.

Tornado became the first mainline steam engine to be built in this country for 50 years when, after 18 years in the making, it was unveiled in steam at the Hopetown works on August 1, 2008.

Since then, it has travelled more than 100,000 miles the length and breadth of Britain, drawing large crowds of steam enthusiasts wherever it goes. It has appeared on the Top Gear television programme with Jeremy Clarkson and in the movie Paddington 2 with a bear from darkest Peru; it has had a BBC documentary made about it and it has topped the 100mph mark.

Graeme Bunker-James, operations director of the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust which was formed in 1990 to build the £3m engine, said “The Trust has always been proud of its hometown of Darlington, and it is a pleasure to celebrate Tornado’s tenth anniversary locally. Darlington has such a rich railway heritage, and it is a privilege to be carrying that tradition forward.”

Tornado will begin celebrating its tenth anniversary on Sunday, July 29, when it will pull two circular journeys into Yorkshire each lasting about three-and-a-half hours.

The first, leaving Bank Top station at 11am, will pick up at Northallerton 15 minutes later before going to York and Leeds and Wakefield – this is a route its class of engine, the A1 Pacifics, would have worked regularly in the heyday of steam.

It’ll be back in Darlington for 2.30pm so the second excursion can leave Bank Top at 5pm, picking up in Thirsk 20 minutes later. This journey takes a slightly different route, and will visit the new station at Glasshoughton, near Castleford, before returning home, to be in Darlington for about 8.30pm.

Standard class tickets cost £59, first class is £109, and first class dining, with a four course meal served to the table, is £159.

On August 1, Tornado will mark its 10th birthday with a special railtour out of Darlington, picking up at both North Road and Bank Top stations. This is to be called “The Mad Hatter” tour, as its destination is Chester, thus joining the Darlington area where Lewis Carroll spent his childhood with the county where he was born.

It leaves North Road at 8.30am and aims to be back for 10.15pm, with passengers able to enjoy three hours in Chester.

Return tickets start at £109 and rise to £245 for first class dining, which includes a Great British Breakfast and a four course dinner.

Mr Bunker-James said: “We hope the whole community can join us in celebrating this modern, if traditional, feat of engineering.”

Cllr Chris McEwan, who is in charge of Darlington’s economic regeneration, said: “It’s hard to believe that it’s already nearly ten years since Tornado first steamed into the spotlight. In that time, it has established itself as monument to Darlington’s ingenuity and helped to enhance our place on the rail heritage map.”

All profits from the trips go back into keeping Tornado on the tracks. Further details and how to book can be found via or call 01438 715050.