NEW £5 million Gresley P2 No. 2007 Prince of Wales is now a fully fledged Mikado – after having the last of its wheels fitted.
In September, the pony truck wheelset was added to the locomotive – following the fitting of the rear Cartazzi wheelset early this year and the eight 6ft 2in driving wheels in July.
The completion of the wheeling means that a main line Mikado is in existence in Great Britain for the first time since 1945.
The Whyte notation for classifying steam locomotives by wheel arrangement was devised by Frederick Methvan Whyte in the early 20th century. In the notation, a locomotive with one leading axle (two wheels) in front, then four driving axles (eight wheels) and then one trailing axle (two wheels) is classified as 2-8-2 and commonly referred to as a Mikado.
The name Mikado originated from a group of Japanese type 9700 2-8-2 locomotives that were built by Baldwin for the 3ft 6in gauge Nippon Railway of Japan in 1897.
In the 19th century, the Emperor of Japan was often referred to as ‘the Mikado’ in English and the Gilbert and Sullivan opera The Mikado had premiered in 1885 and achieved great popularity in both Britain and the US.
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