A STEAM locomotive to be built in a North-East town will be named in honour of the heir to the throne, it has been revealed.

The P2 Steam Locomotive company announced that its Gresley class engine would be named Prince of Wales, to coincide with Prince Charles’ 65th birthday celebrations today (Thursday, November 14).

Prince of Wales, which will be Britain’s most powerful steam locomotive, will be built in Darlington over a period of seven to ten years and will follow in the tracks of Tornado, which was completed in 2008.

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Tornado was formally named by Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, at York station, in February 2009.

The company sought and received the Queen’s approval to use the name Prince of Wales for the locomotive.

Mark Allatt, who is chairman of the P2 company, a subsidiary of the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, the charity which built Tornado, said: “The Prince of Wales has been a fantastic supporter of Tornado and along with The Duchess of Cornwall formally named the new locomotive in 2009.

“Since then, Tornado has hauled the Royal train on no less than three occasions on behalf of Prince Charles, so we are only too delighted to be able to confirm the name for No.2007 in his honour.

“It is well known that His Royal Highness has a passion for our heritage and a particular interest in steam, but also the skills and craftsmanship required to build a steam locomotive from scratch.

“It is a clear demonstration that the UK can still turn its hand to quality heavy engineering, making use of modern design and construction techniques whilst engaging and inspiring a new generation that nothing is beyond the realms of possibility.”

The Gresley class P2 locomotives were the most powerful express locomotives to operate in the UK.

Prince of Wales will be the seventh member of the class and the company says it will demonstrate how the design can be improved through the use of modern computer design and modelling techniques.

The P2 company estimated that £5m will need to be raised to pay for the construction of the engine – numbered 2007 – in the coming years.

Funds will be raised through public subscriptions, following the formal launch of the project in February next year.

Over the years, there have been many steam locomotives named after the royal title Prince of Wales, which is traditionally given to the first in line to the throne.

For more information about the project, visit p2steam.com