- Audio Download
- Listening Length: 2 hours and 15 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: BBC Worldwide Limited
- Audible.co.uk Release Date: 21 Mar. 2011
- Language: English
- ASIN: B004T3AR7A
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank:
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Steam: A Life on the Railway Audio Download – Unabridged
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Top Customer Reviews
These were the young men who became cleaners leading to firemen finally getting their drivers licence to become the envy of 1000s of school boys in post war Britain a Steam Engine Driver.
What I found strange was that these were tales of young men as related by themselves many years later. The reason why older steam train drivers are not included is that they are all dead. In those days you worked until you reached 65 collected a pension for a couple of years if you were lucky and died.
This is the men's stories from that fabulous era of the last gasp of steam until 1964 when the dreaded diesels usurped the steam engine on British Railways.
The Cd and its sections is introduced and very well at that, by Pete Waterman. But the voices on the 2 CD set are those of the men who lived the stories.
I must admit I am prejudiced slightly in that my family are all railway. My Grandfather was an engine driver for the old L.N.E.R and my father and Uncles would have been drivers but for their war service.
What I found absolutely fascinating and educational from these voices is that the Railway Engines were not the super efficient- ever reliable creatures from my imagination rather they were a mixed bunch of wonderful to the downright pigs to get going and keep going.
The same was true from these recollections was that the old Engine drivers were not all the father Christmas type figures that I fondly imagined. Some were evil bastards who took out their ire on the new, raw firemen.
This 2 CD set is packed with fabulous reminiscences from the actual men who learned to drive the engines.
It is full of stories that have that happy knack of both educating and entertaining and that my friend is some achievement.
100 per cent copper bottomed recommended.
There are plenty of stories that highlight the problems of maintaining and running steam trains, reminding us that however nostalgic we may feel towards them now, they were dirty, smelly beasts that that were difficult to get the best out of. The stories the men tell are variously funny, sad or serious, but they all paint a picyure of a very different world from the one we live in today.
I particularly like the story about the ticket office clerk faced who was sometimes faced with a long queue of passengers. Many of them were just travelling locally and their tickets were easy to process, but the occasional long-distance passenger or family would cause a delay while he worked out the fare and consulted the timetable, much to the annoyance of other passengers.
This is a vocal picture of industrial history that may well be unique. We have plenty of books about railway history, some of which contain printed excerpts from interviews, but there's nothing quite like hearing the men who did the work speaking about their experiences.
The job was dirty and dangerous with unsocial hours, bad weather and the threat of accidents, but most of those who contributed enjoyed their work and took a pride in it.
We are given accounts of how to handle a goods train, how to build a good fire to keep the steam loco going well and how signalmen kept the trains running, with occasional escapades and accidents. All this from the people actually involved, and who really cared about their jobs.
Finally, the end of steam, when the diesels were introduced with indecent haste, and many experienced steam men retired rather than face the new-fangled technology.
A Life on the Railway lasts for two-hours, and makes for enlightening and charming listening. The stories on offer will fascinate all train lovers, due to each of the interviewees’ endearing and enthusiastic manner, and the rich variety of tales to tell. It’s all honest and upfront. The genuine romance for steam is emphasized, but so are all the negatives; problems with working with senior engine drivers, the dangers of working on the line, safety procedures, unsociable hours, work & family, accidents and triumphs, the rise of diesel and decline of British Railways, societies and preservation (which still runs today) etc. It’s all told in a genuinely captivating fashion, and the sound-effects really add to the presentation; hearkening back to when Willie Rushton used to narrate the Railway Series.
Although the audiobook is aimed at avid steam enthusiasts, I would recommend this to the casual railway lover too. Steam: A Life on the Railway is an enchanting audiobook, courtesy of the (sadly) defunct AudioGo, and superbly hosted by Pete Waterman. Must-have!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Nothing much more that I can add to the positive reviews, this is a cleverly composed document of a bygone from a source unlikely.Published on 10 May 2013 by Stuart Burns
I got this Audio CD on a whim, having only a passing interest, but have to say that I found the whole thing quite enjoyable. Read morePublished on 8 April 2013 by AndyBSG