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Stenlake Publishing - ‘Over the Alps’ on the Watercress Line - Realising a Boyhood Dream in the 21st Century


‘Over the Alps’ on the Watercress Line - Realising a Boyhood Dream in the 21st Century



Author : John Richardson
ISBN : 9780853616832
Cover : paperback
Price : £11.95

The widespread availability of trainspotting books in the aftermath of the Second World War saw a huge surge of interest in the subject. Groups of young spotters were a common sight at many stations throughout the country from the late 1940s onwards.

To become an engine driver was the dream of many a young boy. The world speed record for steam locomtoive had been set by Mallard in 1938 and Britain’s main line expresses were still in the hands of the likes of Gresley Pacifics from Kings Cross, ‘Royal Scots’ and ‘Duchess’ on the former LMS lines, and the erstwhile Great Western had its famous ‘Castles’ & ‘Kings’. Meanwhile the Southern’s expresses were in the hands of Mr Bulleid’s extraordinary ‘Merchant Navy’ and ‘West Country’ Pacifics. With this wealth of steam, power, and speed on show it is little wonder that these engines caught the imagination of the young. But with the Mosrnisation Plan of 1955 the writing on the wall for these mighty engines, although it was not until 1968 that steam was finally eradicated from Britain’s main lines. With the demise of the steam locomotive the dreams of many were to remain unfulfilled.

This book then is the story of a long love affair with the steam locomotive and the realisation of a boyhood dream in the 21st century on the Mid-Hants Railway. The Mid-Hants line was nicknamed the ‘Alps’ in steam days because of the steep gradients involved.

To make the book more readable the author has tried to avoid too much in the way of technical detail, apart from the chapter on Bulleid Pacifics. However, throughout the book the author gives clear explanations of the locomotive equipment used by the firemen and driver to help readers understand how steam engines work and the partnership necessary between their crews to make their powerful steed operate safely and efficiently.

The Bulleid Pacifics are still the focus of a great deal of argument amongst steam enthusiasts some 60 years after they were introduced and as a qualified engineer the author makes his contribution to the controversy.

It is now 40 years since the end of steam on the national rail network. It is hoped this book will appeal to anyone with an interest in steam railways, whether they too harboured a dream of becoming an engine driver or just enjoy preserved railways today. Perhaps it will serve as an inspiration to the next generation of engine drivers on Britain’s preserved railways.

A5 format, 144 pages, over 60 illustrations.

‘Over the Alps’ on the Watercress Line - Realising a Boyhood Dream in the 21st Century
£11.95
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