A STEAM locomotive that has made headlines around the world will feature in the country’s most popular motoring programme.

Tornado, the first steam engine to be built in England in nearly 50 years, will feature in a forthcoming episode of BBC’s Top Gear.

The locomotive, which was built from scratch by a small band of volunteers in Darlington in a project lasting 19 years, is seen taking part in one of the races between the three presenters.

The locomotive, with Jeremy Clarkson on the footplate, races James May in a Jaguar XK120 car and Richard Hammond in a Vincent Black Shadow motorcycle from London to Edinburgh.

The new seven-week series of Top Gear will start on June 21, but it is not known when Tornado will appear.

It is another highlight in an extremely successful year for Tornado, which made its maiden passenger journey in February.

The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, the organisation behind Tornado, was recently presented with the Sir Henry Royce Foundation Memorial Award, by a transport guild in London, which honours achievement and excellence.

Previous recipients have included Thrust cars, which received the award twice for breaking the world landspeed record, and also Nigel Mansell and the Frank Williams Renault team for winning ten grand prix in 1992.

The outcome of the Top Gear race is being kept a closely guarded secret.

However, even Jeremy Clarkson, who is normally scathing about trains and public transport, was understood to have been impressed with Tornado.

Mark Allatt, the chairman of the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, said: “It was really great fun.

“It came about through a contact at a magazine.

“A lot of work went into it to get it right, and there were all sorts of different permutations we looked into.

“We did the whole journey in about eight hours, but we had to stop four times, so the running time was about sixand- a-half hours, which is one of the fastest journeys between London and Edinburgh ever by a steam train.”

Speaking about the Sir Henry Royce award, Mr Allatt said: “The trust is deeply honoured to have received such a prestigious award.

“We are doing a lot of runs at the moment and people are still turning out in their hundreds to see Tornado at the stations.”

The Tornado website is at a1steam.com