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Somerset and Dorset Steam Finale Paperback – Illustrated, 29 Sep 2001
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This book is in full colour; The Somerset & Dorset is one of those railways which has a following far beyond its immediate area of operation and the interest keeps going although it is now 35 years since the passenger service from Bath to Bournemouth via Templecombe ceased. British Railways were determined to close the route as evidenced by the diversion of its most famous train the 'Pines Express' in 1962. But it took until March 1966 for the passenger service to cease completely and steam remained in charge until the end. The outstanding scenery, the busy and heavy through holiday trains from the Midlands and north of England, plus the old Midland motive power used into the 1960s, all made the route a magnet for photographers. The Fowler 2-8-0s built specially for the line by the Midland Railway added to the attractions and soldiered on until 1964. They are well represented in this book on both passenger and freight workings. The whole line is covered, including branches and connections, and the pictures show the changing variety of motive power up until the line's final demise.A goodly number of outstanding photographers have contributed to the book and many pictures are published for the first time, including some showing rarely seen workings.
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Readers familiar with Michael Welch's other railway offerings will be recognise the consistently high standard of his caption research, coupled with an inspired selection of images from a whole host of well known names. These include Dick Riley, Michael Allen, John Spencer Gilks and that early exponent of the telephoto lens, Trevor Owen.
Covering the last five or so years of the line's operational life, the album perfectly illustrates the S&Ds eclectic mix of ex-LM, ex-SR and ex-GW locomotives and stock, all rubbing shoulders with the tragically short-lived BR Standard types. Following the line southwards from Bath, with a brief excursion along the Highbridge branch, 'S&D Steam Finale' is full of memorable images and forms a fitting tribute to this much-lamented route.