The authors have described with enthusiasm the first golden age of steam, the troubled period for steam and for railway services, and then a rebirth of steam as a heritage experience. A delightful book that covers its subject very well.
NAME: Steaming through Britain
CLASSIFICATION: Book reviews
AUTHOR: Chris Ellis, Greg Morse
PUBLISHER: Conway, Anova
BINDING: Hard back
PRICE: GB £20.00
SUBJECT: Steam engines, trains, railways, rail roads, Industrial Revolution, British railways, heritage lines, railway museums, working exhibits, railway history, technology, pioneering
DESCRIPTION: The authors have certainly steamed through British railway history in 192 pages. Considering that the book is lavishly illustrated with first class illustrations, many in full colour, the text contains an amazing amount of information. Railways played a key part in the British Industrial Revolution and the history provided in this book is also the history of the growth of the British Empire built on industrialisation. The authors have shown how the fortunes of steam railways have changed over the years. From being the transport backbone of Britain for a hundred years, railways suddenly suffered as Britain emerged from the austerity of World War Two. Steam was beginning to be replaced by diesel engines and electrification was being planned. Botched nationalization created growing problems and the Beeching plan butchered the feeder lines that were essential in taking passengers from home or work onto the main lines. While the main British rail network has continued to suffer political interference, poor labour relations and a general lack of appreciation by the staff for the passengers who pay their wages, steam has been enjoying a rebirth on heritage lines. The popularity of steam has enabled enthusiasts to develop from display restoration of original steam engines to preservation by operation on an increasingly large collection of private heritage lines. From there enthusiasts have moved on to the point of connecting to national rail lines and running steam engines again on main line networks. The next stage has recently completed where enthusiasts have built a completely new steam engine for operation on private and public rails. The authors have described with enthusiasm the first golden age of steam, the troubled period for steam and for railway services, and then a rebirth of steam as a heritage experience. A delightful book that covers its subject very well. It is very difficult to explain the fascination for steam railways. It is enduring and new generations have continued the interest to support heritage steam services. As a method of travel it is inevitably dirty, but there is a majesty that diesel and electric trains fail to achieve.