On Friday 26th August the Nene Valley Railway (NVR) at Wansford, Cambridgeshire, hosted the rededication of No. 60163 Tornado and its affiliation with RAF Marham as part of the Station’s 100th birthday celebrations.

A total of 30 personnel from RAF Marham, comprising both Military and Civilian made the journey as part of a Stn Force Development initiative. Upon arrival the team received a briefing on the building and operation of the locomotive by Trust chairman Mark Allatt. Following this short presentation, the Stn personnel witnessed the unveiling of Tornado’s nameplate bearing the RAF Marham crest by Station Commander Group Captain Rich Davies ADC MA RAF and Trust President David Champion. This was followed by a blessing by Station Padre Reverend Geoffrey Firth.

Group Captain Rich Davies commented:
“We are delighted to affiliate RAF Marham in our centenary year with the magnificent achievement that No. 60163 Tornado represents. Its sheer power and presence is reflective of that of the Tornado aircraft that operate from RAF Marham and have been the backbone of the RAF for the past 30 years.”

Mark Allatt, chairman, The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, added:
“It’s a great privilege for No. 60163 Tornado to be affiliated with RAF Marham as it celebrates its 100th birthday. The locomotive was named in honour of the RAF aircrews that fought in the first Gulf War and in many other subsequent conflicts. We are delighted to be re-invigorating our relationship with the RAF and look forward to future collaborations.”

Following the dedication ceremony the 30 personnel present were given the opportunity to drive Tornado under supervision and later that evening the Station hosted a ‘dining in’ night on the railway’s dining train also hauled by Tornado. The Dining in Night was very well received, and if not unique enough that it was aboard a moving steam train, large portions of it was held in darkness with the locomotive speed limits in place not allowing the lighting dynamo to generate enough power for the lights.

The name Tornado was chosen in honour of the Royal Air Force Tornado air crews flying at the time in the Gulf War. The honour of choosing the name was given to a £50,000 sponsor of the project. In 1995, officers of the Royal Air Force presented the Tornado nameplates to the trust at Tyseley Locomotive Works at the frame laying ceremony.

The Station Commander, RAF Cottesmore handed over to the Trust Tornado’s two nameplates – one with the crest of RAF Cottesmore and the other with the crest of the Tri-national Tornado Training Establishment (TTTE) based there – both painted by groundcrews at the RAF station. RAF Cottesmore was the home of the Tornado, where aircrews of the Royal Air Force, the German Air Force, the German Navy and the Italian Air Force were converted to the Tornado GR1.
With The Trust’s establishment of its permanent base at Darlington Locomotive Works in 1997 and the dissolution of the TTTE in 1999, the crest on the latter plate was replaced by that of nearby RAF Leeming (then an RAF Tornado station). This was the nameplate unveiled by TRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall when Tornado was formally named at York station on 19th February 2009. Coincidentally, HRH The Duchess of Cornwall is the Honorary Air Commodore of RAF Leeming.

It is now in 2016 and with RAF Cottesmore closed, RAF Marham now has the honour of providing a new nameplate to Tornado. RAF Marham, which has flown Tornado aircraft for the last 34 years is the home of the Tornado GR4 and as such is proud to be ‘adopted’ and affiliated with the Tornado locomotive.