Cock o the North hopes to ride the rails again

Cock O'The North locomotive.
Cock O'The North locomotive.
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Ask a stranger what Doncaster is best known for and it’s a fair bet railway engineering will in the answer.

And there are people out there intent on turning the clock back and re-creating those heady days of classic steam engine construction.

So it is that a project to build the first steam locomotive in Doncaster for more than half a century has been put forward with support from a cross section of town’s population.

A group of enthusiastic fans are hoping to raise up to £10 million and recreate a famous engine designed at the town’s plant works during the 1930s by Sir Nigel Gresley for the old LNER.

Cock o’ the North - with its 2001 number - was the first of the powerful new P2 class of loco built for the Edinburgh to Aberdeen route with its testing gradients. Only six were made, none of which are still around today

But the Doncaster P2 Locomotive Trust is determined to have one running again within the next decade and insists it will be constructed in Doncaster - unlike the new A1 Tornado which was built in Darlington.

They are encouraging Doncaster people to make donations to the project which supporters see as a possible starting for a major railway heritage attraction in the borough.

The P2 Trust is asking Doncaster Council to help find suitable premises for the building of the loco and the Mayor has promised his full backing.

They have already placed an order for the steel to create the mainframe of the loco.

Cock o’ the North was originally built in 1934 with traditional styling at the front end but when it was refurbished four years later the Plant engineers incorporated the new streamline design so familiar on world-famous Mallard, which many steam enthusiasts claim made the iconic engine “the most beautiful steam locomotive ever built”.

The P2 trust has also paid £5,000 for copies of the original blueprints from the National Railway Museum which require conversion from imperial to metric before construction can get underway.

Spokesman Mick Cooper said: “One of our over-riding principles is that this locomotive will be built in Doncaster - and nowhere else.

Mr Cooper says the cost of the engine could be anything from £5 to £10 million but is confident Doncaster still has the railway engineering skills base to complete the task.

“There are many Doncaster people who worked on steam engines over the years and I am sure they will want to be involved in such an exciting project. Obviously we will need volunteers to help keep the costs down.”

If the thought of owning such a train (albeit not quite full size) then why not take a trip to Doncaster’s Tourist Office and have a look at the splendid scale model, perhaps even buy one of your very own, a mere £3,000 and it could be yours.

The name Cock o’ the North also refers to Alexander Gordon, 4th Duke of Gordon who was known by that nickname, also The Chief of Clan Gordon is known as the Cock o’ the North, Cock o’ the North (music) is a traditional Scottish bagpipe tune. There’s also a whisky liqueur called Cock o’ the North and The Cock o’ the North Championship is a prestigious show jumping competition.