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Fifty Famous British Locomotives: The Story of the Stars of the Steam and Early Diesel Age Hardcover – 30 Oct 2009
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"Railway enthusiast Peter Herring provides a nostalgic guide to the age of steam and diesel in 50 famous British Locomotives" --International Express
"Packed with contemporary and colour photographs the book has details of the engineering work of the men that kept them running along with vital statistics for each engine" --Family Tree Magazine
"This is a nostalgic guide to fifty of the most famous British steam and diesel locomotives… " --Best Of British
"Each locomotive is described in a readable three-to-four page essay […]" --Anthony Lambert
About the Author
Peter Herring has been a railway enthusiast for longer than he cares to remember. He was editor of Steam Classic magazine for more than six years, and is the author of Ultimate Train (Dorling Kindersley) and Yesterday's Railways (D&C). He has also written numerous articles for other publications, and lives in Surrey.
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Good photos and good text. Excellent read.
I also wanted to discover which locomotives had been preserved, and where to find them.
This book does all that - and much more.
Each of the selected 50 locomotives is carefully detailed with
- their history, when they were built, who by, how many were built
- glorious colour photos of the engine in preservation and B&W historical photos in service
- lots of "top trumps" details of wheel diameters, grate area, tractive effort etc (if you like that sort of thing!)
- lists of the actual preserved engines and their current running status
- and lots of other interesting and intriguing facts
The landscape layout of the book is perfect for the wide horizontal shots of the engines, and the quality of the book is superb.
It is a book to dip into, to revel in nostalgia, to be astonished at these huge (often crude) machines that strode the British rail system for 60 years or so. It still amazes me that these Victorian monsters, designed at the beginning of the 20th century were still working in the 1960s - when the rest of the world had moved on from stick-and-string biplanes to Concorde.
The perfect birthday present for the man who has got everything - except his own personal steam locomotive...
The 50 locomotive classes represented here were introduced into public service between 1900 and 1965. Seven of them are diesels - Warship, class 40, Peak, Western, Deltic and Brush (class 47) - with the other 43 being steam. Electric locomotives are not featured. The choice of class 40 rather than the look-alike but far more successful class 37 is a little odd, but it has an interesting history nevertheless.
While the featured diesels all began their lives hauling express passenger trains (though most were eventually used for other duties too), the 43 featured steam locomotive classes encompass the whole range including shunters and freight locomotives, albeit the emphasis is on those express passenger locomotives. By focusing on the 20th century, the author has been able to focus mainly on classes of which at least one example survives in preservation. He included just two classes for which no examples were preserved, although one of these classes is now represented by the recently built Tornado, about which at least three books have been written.
Aside from giving a basic history of each locomotive class, there are also sections for each class (In preservation, In detail) giving information on preserved locomotives and technical data respectively. A thread running through the steam era is the influence of the Great Western, who clearly had the best locomotives at the start of the 20th century. Many of their designs inspired their rivals, helped by Stanier moving from the GWR to the LMS and by exchange trials between the GWR and LNER. Eventually, it was the LNER that had the best locomotives.
Plenty of pictures and excellent supporting text remind us of the heyday of steam locomotives. It is a sobering thought that modern diesel and electric trains, which look so boring, easily out-perform anything that the more appealing (to me, anyway) steam locomotives were capable of.
There are a few typos, it's not a highly technical book although there is some interesting information somewhere, but it's nice to curl up with on the couch for a while - which makes it for me a very good book.
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