In mid-1964, Keith Widdowson got wind that the Western Region was hell-bent on being the first to eliminate the steam locomotive on its tracks by December 1965. The 17-year-old hurriedly homed in on train services still in the hands of GWR steam power, aiming to catch runs with the last examples before their premature annihilation. The Great Western Steam Retreat recalls Widdowson’s teenage exploits, soundtracked by hits from the Beatles, the Kinks and the Rolling Stones, throughout the Western Region and former Great Western Railway lines. He documents the extreme disorder that resulted from that decision, paying tribute to the train crews who managed to meet demanding timings in the face of declining cleanliness, the poor quality of coal and the major problem of recruiting both footplate and shed staff. This book completes the author’s Steam Chase series and provides a snapshot into the comradery that characterised the final years of steam alongside the long-gone journeys that can never be recreated.
The nineteenth century was a time of innovation and expansion across the industrial landscape, and nowhere more so than on the railways, as the new age of iron, steel and steam, literally, gathered pace. At the head of the race up was the iconic Great Western Railway. As this mighty corporation grew, it absorbed an astonishing 353 railway companies. Many of them had their own workshops, depots and manufacturing, often assembling locomotives to the designs of other companies. All these, along with the various designs, became the responsibility of the GWR on takeover, and followed its standardisation of components where this was possible. These works became the beating heart of the GWR’s vast empire, where majestic engines were built and maintained by some of the most skillful and inventive engineers of the day. Retired GWR railwayman Ken Gibbs presents a comprehensive portrait of the works from Brunel to the final days of steam in the mid-twentieth century, and beyond to the rediscovery and renovation of many of the workshops for their unique heritage.
Self-propelled carriages were a major innovation at the beginning of the twentieth century, and the GWR was quick to develop a large number of steam motor cars to link farms and scattered villages across the South West to the new branch lines. Their steam motor cars ran from 1903 to 1935, stopping during the war, and were so effective at making rural areas accessible they became victims of their own success. Wagons brought in to meet the high demand proved too heavy for the carriages and they struggled on hills. Soon the steam rail motor services were in decline. After its cancellation all ninety-nine steam carriages were eventually scrapped. Engineer Ken Gibbs reveals the unique GWR carriages, a window into early twentieth-century transport, and the modern replica he helped build, now the only way of viewing these charming historic vehicles.
The first thought, when contemplating a new study of the Great Western Railway locomotive fleet, must surely be to ask what can there be left to say? But there is no single source which gives a general introduction to the Great Western locomotive fleet. There are monographs on individual classes, an excellent multi-volume detail study from the RCTS, and superb collections of photographs, but nothing that brings it all together. This work is intended to provide that general introduction.The volume begins with a series of short essays covering general trends in design development, whilst the main body of the volume covers individual classes. For each class there is a small table containing some principal dimensions and paragraphs of text, covering an introduction, renumbering, key changes in the development of the class and information on withdrawal.The volume concludes with appendices covering the development and types of standard boilers, the various numbering schemes used by the GWR, the arcane subject of locomotive diagrams and lot numbers, and a short reference on the many lines the GWR engulfed.The majority of illustrations are new profile drawings to a consistent format. Described as sketches, they are drawn to a consistent scale, but do not claim to be scale drawings. Much minor equipment has been omitted and the author has certainly not dared to include rivets! Although most are based around GWR weight diagrams, they are not simple traces of the original drawings. Detail has been added from other sources, components copied from different drawings and details have been checked against historical and modern photographs. One must also bear in mind that steam locomotives were not mass produced. Minor fittings frequently varied in position and changes were made over the locomotives' lifetimes. Nevertheless, this collection of drawings provides a uniquely consistent view of the GWR locomotive fleet.
In 'Steam Australia', Tim Fischer takes readers into the fascinating story of steam transportation over ten vital decades of transformation in Australia's history. The book also covers the great named express trains hauled by steam locomotives over the decades, such as 'Puffing Billy', Robert Gordon Menzies or 'The Ghan'. Special topics feature things such as Albury's 'break of gauge' platform (where two state track systems met), the Amiens branch line (running through Pozieres and Passchendaele stations in Queensland), some important characters such as C.Y. O'Connor and many more. The book is illustrated with over 300 exciting images from the superb National Library John Buckland collection of photography, many never seen before. Steam locomotives continue to operate as a key part of rail heritage tourism in Australia, demonstrating the ongoing legacy of these engines. The great age of steam in Australia and Fischer's salute to steam locomotion and all that it has achieved for this country is fascinating and captivating to both train novices and enthusiasts alike.