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The Steam Age (Amazing and Extraordinary Facts) [Hardcover]

Julian Holland

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Book Description

27 April 2012 Amazing and Extraordinary Facts
Respected transport author Julian Holland delves into the intriguing world of steam in his latest book, which is full of absorbing facts and figures on subjects ranging from Cornish beam engines, steam railway locomotives, road vehicles and ships through to traction engines, steam rollers and electricity generating stations and the people who designed and built them. Helped along the way by the inventive minds of James Watt, Richard Trevithick and George Stephenson, steam became the powerhouse that drove the Industrial Revolution in Britain in the late 18th and 19th centuries. The combination of abundant coal reserves, inventive minds, cheap labour and entrepreneurial spirit made Britain the world leader in steam technology. Britain also led the way with the evolution of steamships – from William Symington’s Charlotte Dundas of 1803 (the world’s first successful steam-powered boat) and SS Archimedes (the world’s first screw-driven steamship) to HMS Rattler (the world’s first steam screw-driven warship) and Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s giant transatlantic steam-driven liners of which the Great Eastern was by far the largest.

While steam in the factories and on the railways and roads is now a fading memory, it should be worth noting that much of our electricity is, thanks to inventors such as Charles Parsons, still generated by steam turbines in our coal, gas and nuclear power stations. Even modern nuclear powered submarines use steam turbines to drive their propulsion units. In Britain there is the most amazing steam preservation movement. Restored steam engines can still be seen at work on our waterways, roads and railways and at hundreds of steam events around the country. Julian Holland provides you with a full list of where to see historic steam locomotives and steam miniatures. Britain’s world-beating steam heritage is still very much alive!

Discover which steam locomotive holds the world speed record, find out how the operators of horse-drawn buses sabotaged London’s first steam buses, and learn why Charles Parsons’ revolutionary steam turbine embarrassed the royal family. Discover the answers to these and many other intriguing aspects of the steam age in this absorbing collection of stories and trivia. Brief, accessible and entertaining pieces on a wide variety of subjects makes it the perfect book to dip in to. The "Amazing and Extraordinary Facts" series presents interesting, surprising and little-known facts and stories about a wide range of topics which are guaranteed to inform, absorb and entertain in equal measure.

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More About the Author

As a young lad I was surrounded by railways. Across the road from where we lived in Gloucester was the ex-Midland Railway line to Bristol and Birmingham, behind us was the branch line down to Gloucester Docks and the Gloucester Railway Carriage & Wagon Company's Works and in the attic was an 'O' gauge clockwork railway built by my father. Boy's books and magazines were awash with railway subjects and the weekly 'Eagle' comic with its centrefold cutaway, often a railway subject, was always eagerly awaited. Unlike today, railways then were still an important part of everyday life and the long and complicated journey to our holiday destination each year was pure joy.

I distinctly remember the first time I went trainspotting. Having just passed my 11-plus exam I went on to attend secondary school where many of my classmates, aided by a plethora of Ian Allan books and magazines, had already been bitten by the craze. I was determined that the next Saturday I would catch the bus down to Gloucester Central and Eastgate stations to investigate this phenomenon. I have still got my Sterling No. 3 notebook and a pencil from that portentous day in 1957 when I hung around the stations, taking in the smell of smoke, steam and oil - I was hooked! Penzance, Paddington, Newcastle, Wolverhampton Low Level, Birmingham Snow Hill, Manchester and Sheffield were among the distant and seemingly romantic destinations of the trains that I saw on that day. There was no stopping me and over the next ten years I travelled far and wide, usually in the company of likeminded friends, to nearly every far-flung corner of British Railways in search of that elusive locomotive number or to travel on a soon-to-be-closed line. Even the introduction of those dastardly diesels failed to dampen my enthusiasm!

On leaving school I trained as a graphic designer at the infamous Hornsey College of Art in the late 1960s and went on to work as a designer and art director at several well known London publishing companies. In more recent years I have contributed to many bestselling books on railways and have more recently written Amazing & Extraordinary Railway Facts (David & Charles, 2008), Discovering Britain's Little Trains (AA Publishing, 2008), Great Railways of the World (AA Publishing, 2008), The Lost Joy of Railways (David & Charles, 2009), Discovering Scotland's Lost Railways (Waverley Books, 2009), More Amazing & Extraordinary Railway Facts (David & Charles, 2010), Discovering Scotland's Lost Local Lines (Waverley Books, 2010), The Lost Lines of Britain (AA Publishing, 2010), Steaming Across Britain (AA Publishing, 2011), Amazing & Extraordinary Facts: Trains & Railways (David & Charles, 2011), The Times: Mapping the Railways (co-written with David Spaven - Times Books, 2011). Titles for 2012 include Railway Days Out (AA Publishing) and Amazing & Extraordinary Facts: Steam Age (David & Charles)


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About the Author

Julian Holland has always had a passion for British railways and has documented his many journeys around Britain during the final years of steam. He has worked in the publishing industry for the last 39 years, coupling his work with his passion on many occasions, such as The Lost Joy of Railways and Amazing and Extraordinary Railway Facts.

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