Five years ago I earned a crust dealing with pollution incidents in and around Darlington. I dealt with everything from car accidents, fires, river pollutions, flytipping, sewage discharges and lots of other lovely smelly things.

Illegal fires were the bane of our lives. People trying to burn waste rather than disposing of it correctly, safely and in their eyes expensively.
So where ever I went I was always on the look out for tell tale black smoke rising. Black smoke indicates unclean waste i.e wood which has been impregnated with paint or the like, tyres or plastics. In other words, nasty stuff.
One of my strong memories after a particularly bad period of time where it seemed like we were dealing with several illegal fires a day. Driving down North Road in Darlington I saw the tell tale sign of black smoke rising over the buildings. Off I charged ready to read the riot act. I tumbled into a yard coat flying behind me, camera in hand ready to get all the evidence I could.
It was a bit of a shock I can tell you to find four men looking a little sheepish testing the chimney of a steam train that they were building.
We my flabber was well and truly ghasted I can tell you. I ummed and ahhed and apologised and quietly got back into my car and headed back to the office, tail between my legs.
The train that those men were building was Tornado. The A1 Peppercorn Class steam train.
She’s a beauty.
Sadly I haven’t seen her in the flesh since she was compleated, but by golly I want to. Can you imagine 75 miles a hour in a steam train. No wonder they called her Tornado.
I don’t watch a huge amount of television, so I missed Top Gear on Saturday, but my close friend (and train buff) told me to watch it on iPlayer. It makes me proud that, that amazing train and I have had an encounter, however odd that may be. And it makes me even more proud that she’s a Northerner!

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