Arthur Peppercorn

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Arthur Henry Peppercorn, OBE (29 January 1889 – 3 March 1951) was the last Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME) of the London and North Eastern Railway.


Arthur Peppercorn was born in Leominster in 1889 and educated at Hereford Cathedral School. In 1905 he started his career as an apprentice with the Great Northern Railway (GNR).

He succeeded Edward Thompson as CME on 1 July 1946 but his style of work was more like Thompson's predecessor Sir Nigel Gresley. Peppercorn finished several projects which were started by Thompson, but most popular were his LNER Peppercorn Class A1 and the LNER Peppercorn Class A2. These were known as some of the best British steam locomotives ever in service. Upon nationalisation and the foundation of British Railways, he continued in essentially the same job, now titled "Chief Mechanical Engineer, Eastern and North Eastern Regions"; he retired at the end of 1949, two years after nationalisation.[1] Overall he was active as a railway Chief Mechanical Engineer for three and a half years.


Only one of his famous Pacific locomotives, a LNER Peppercorn Class A2, 60532 Blue Peter, was preserved, but none of the LNER Peppercorn Class A1.

However, a brand new A1, 60163 Tornado, built as the next in the class, has been constructed. It moved under its own steam for the first time in August 2008.

Arthur Peppercorn's widow was honorary president of the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, builder of Tornado. At age 92, she lit the first fire in Tornado’s firebox in January 2008, and was later on the footplate for Tornado's inaugural steaming at Darlington works, stating "My husband would be proud.".[2]


  1. ^ "Retirement of Two C.M.E.'s". The Railway Magazine (London: Transport (1910) Ltd) 96 (586): 74. February 1950. 
  2. ^ "New steam age in Britain". The Mirror. 2 August 2008. Retrieved 19 November 2008. My husband would be proud. 

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Business positions
Preceded by
Edward Thompson
Chief Mechanical Engineer of the
London and North Eastern Railway

Succeeded by
British Railways