British Steam Railways

34027 Taw Valley

British Steam Railways is new series of lavishly-illustrated hard backed books by DeAgostini, which chronicles the rise of Steam Power in Britain. Charting From the efforts of early pioneers like Cugnot, Richard Trevithick and George Stephenson to record breakers like 3440 City of Truro, Flying Scotsman and Mallard, through to the golden age in the 1930’s. From the formation of the BIG Four Railway companies in 1923: Great Western, London Midland Scotland, London North East and Southern Region, to The formation of British Railways in 1948 which combined the big four railway companies and introduced a new class of Standard Engines which combined the best features from all four companies, until the slow decline of steam in the 1960’s which was hastened by the Beeching Axe. This was designed to save the government money and favoured road transport and eventually banned Steam Traction outright in 1968 following the Fifteen Guineas Special in August 1968.

However there has since been a resurgence of steam thanks to a growing number of dedicated rail enthusiasts who worked on the railways and refused to let steam Engines become extinct. These pioneers were responsible for a large number of heritage Railways such as the West Somerset, North York Moors, East Lancashire, Bluebell, Great Central and Severn Valley Railway which sprang up during the 1970’s and were responsible for buying back Steam Engines from scrapyards like Dai Woodham’s in Wales.

The books also feature in depth articles on noteworthy Chief Mechanical Engineers such as sir Nigel Gresley, Charles Collett, Henry Ivatt, sir William Stanier, Thompson, Maunsell and Urie whose innovative designs helped to shape locomotive development throughout the years. Many noteworthy locomotives are featured such as LNER A4 class pacific locomotive 4468 Mallard, LNER A3 class Pacific Locomotive 4472 Flying Scotsman, LNER D49, j94 Austerities, SR PACIFIC 35028 Clan Line, GWR Hall Locomotives, Jones Goods Locomotives, Duke of Gloucester, LMS 6100 Royal Scot, lMS 6201 Princess Elizabeth, GWR 3440 City of Truro, 4771 Green Arrow, King George V, LMS 8f’s, Q1 Class.

There are also twelve DVD’s including Arfon Haines DVD Learning to Steam, these feature hours of archive steam footage, footage of preserved Steam Engines running on Heritage lines and footage from the footplate. Plus a silver plated stationmasters pocket-watch and TWO Stunning prints of LNER 4472 Flying Scotsman and LNER 4468 Mallard.

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The Big Four

The Big Four Railway Companies were created in the United Kingdom On 1 January 1923, after almost all the railway companies including the Great Western Railway, the London and North Eastern Railway, the London, Midland and Scottish Railway and the Southern Railway companies were grouped into Four larger companies. A number of other lines, already operating as joint railways, remained separate from the Big Four; these included the Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway and the Midland and Great Northern Joint Railway. The “Big Four” were joint-stock public companies and they continued to run the railway system until 31 December 1947. The LNER Class A4 streamlined express trains of the 1930s offered a high-speed alternative to road transport.

However competition from road transport during the 1920s and 1930s greatly reduced the revenue available to the railways, even though the needs for maintenance on the network had never been higher, as investment had been deferred over the past decade. Rail companies accused the government of favouring road haulage through the construction of roads subsidised by the ratepayer, while restricting its ability to use flexible pricing because it was held to nationally-agreed rate cards. The government response was to commission several inconclusive reports; the Salter Report of 1933 finally recommended that road transport should be taxed directly to fund the roads and increased Vehicle Excise Duty and fuel duties were introduced. It also noted that many small lines would never be likely to compete with road haulage. Although these road pricing changes helped their survival, the railways entered a period of slow decline, owing to a lack of investment and changes in transport policy and lifestyles. During the Second World War, the companies’ managements joined together, effectively operating as one company. Assisting the country’s ‘war effort’ put a severe strain on the railways’ resources and a substantial maintenance backlog developed. After 1945, for both practical and ideological reasons, the then Labour government decided to bring the rail service into the public sector.

So On 1 January 1948, the railways were nationalised to form British Railways (latterly “British Rail”) under the control of the British Transport Commission.Though there were few initial changes to the service, usage increased and the network became profitable. Regeneration of track and stations was completed by 1954. In the same year, changes to the British Transport Commission, including the privatisation of road haulage, ended the coordination of transport in the UK. Rail revenue fell and, in 1955, the network again ceased to be profitable. The mid-1950s saw the hasty introduction of diesel and electric rolling stock to replace steam in a modernisation plan costing many millions of pounds but the expected transfer back from road to rail did not occur and losses began to mount. This failure to make the railways more profitable through investment led governments of all political persuasions to restrict rail investment to a drip feed and seek economies through cutbacks.

This desire for profitability led to a major reduction in the network during the mid-1960s. Dr. Richard Beeching was given the task by the government of re-organising the railways (“the Beeching Axe”). This policy resulted in many branch lines and secondary routes being closed because they were deemed uneconomic. The closure of stations serving rural communities removed much feeder traffic from main line passenger services. The closure of many freight depots that had been used by larger industries such as coal andiron led to much freight transferring to road haulage. The closures were extremely unpopular with the general public at that time and remain so today. Passenger levels decreased steadily from the late fifties to late seventies. However Passenger services then experienced a renaissance with the introduction of the high-speed Intercity 125 trains in the late 1970s and early 1980s.The 1980s saw severe cuts in government funding and above-inflation increases in fares, but the service became more cost-effective.

Between 1994 and 1997, British Rail was privatised Ownership of the track and infrastructure passed to Railtrack, passenger operations were franchised to individual private sector operators (originally there were 25 franchises) and the freight services sold outright (six companies were set up, but five of these were sold to the same buyer). The Conservative government under John Major said that privatisation would see an improvement in passenger services, however the railways continue to have problems, although many lines that were originally closed by by Doctor Richard Beeching have since become popular Heritage lines and have experienced a resurgence in popularity.

 

Fred Dibnah

Charismatic Engineer, Steeplejack and British television personality Fred Dibnah was Born 28th April 1938. As a child, Dibnah was fascinated by the steam engines which powered the many textile mills in his home town of Bolton and developed a keen interest in mechanical engineering, Steam Engines and chimneys and the men who worked on them. He began his working life as a joiner, before becoming a steeplejack. From age 22, he served for two years in the armed forces, as part of his national service. Once demobilised, he returned to steeplejacking but met with limited success until he was asked to repair Bolton’s parish church. The resulting publicity provided a welcome boost to his business, ensuring he was almost never out of work.

Dibnah’s interest in steam power stemmed from his childhood observations of the steam locomotives on the nearby railway line, and his visits to his father’s workplace—a bleach works in Bolton—where he was fascinated by the steam engines used to drive the line shafting. He later became a steam enthusiast, befriending many of the engine drivers and firemen who worked on the nearby railway. As a teenager he met a driver who invited him onto the footplate of his locomotive and who asked him to keep the boiler supplied with fuel. Dibnah became so enamoured with steam engines that he eventually looked for one he could buy. He learnt of a steamroller kept in a barn near Warrington and which the owners had bought from Flintshire County Council. He had the boiler pressure-tested and, despite it being in poor condition, bought it for £175. He towed it to a friend’s house, spent a fortnight making various repairs and drove it to his mother’s house in Bolton.

After he married and bought his own property on Radcliffe new Road, he cut an access road to the garden of his new house and moved the steamroller there. Restoring the engine took many years, as Dibnah had to create his own replacement parts, using Victorian engineering techniques and equipment he built in his garden. The boiler was in poor condition and needed serious work, but Dibnah used local knowledge and was eventually able to build a new boiler. Once restored, he used the 1910 Aveling & Porter steamroller together with a living van he bought and restored, to take his family around the local steam fairs In 1978, while making repairs to Bolton Town Hall, Dibnah was filmed by a regional BBC news crew. The BBC then commissioned an award-winning documentary, which followed the rough-hewn steeplejack as he worked on chimneys, interacted with his family and talked about his favourite hobby—steam.

He made many more Television programmes about Steam Engines & Locomotives and In 1998, he presented a programme on Britain’s industrial history and went on to present a number of fascinating series, largely concerned with the Industrial Revolution and its mechanical and architectural legacy. In mid-2000, Dibnah was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Technology for his achievement in engineering by Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, and on 19 July 2004 he was made an honorary Doctor of the University by the University of Birmingham. He was also awarded an MBE for services to heritage and broadcasting. He said “I’m looking forward to meeting the Queen but I shall probably have to get a new cap. And I’d like to meet Prince Charles because we share the same views about modern architecture.”On 7 July 2004, Dibnah went to Buckingham Palace to receive his award from the Queen.

Sadly Fred’s health was failing at this point although filming continued at various locations around the country, with sons Jack and Roger, who had become essential members of the tour, providing much-needed support for their father. By the end of July, the crew had filmed only 34 days with Dibnah, out of a planned 60. It was becoming more difficult by the day for Dibnah to fulfil his filming duties and the crew decided to cut short the schedule and he died shortly after on 7 November 2004 and is sadly missed. He is survived by his five children from three marriages.

Severn Valley Railway Autumn Steam Gala

This years Severn Valley Railway Autumn Steam Gala takes place from Thursday 21 September until Sunday 24 September. During the gala The  home-fleet of engines will be in steam, including: ex Port Talbot saddle tank GWR 813, 1450, 0-6-0 15xx class 1501, GWR 28xx class 2857, 7714, GWR 78xx Manor class 7802 Bradley Manor, GWR 78xx Manor class 7812 Erlestoke Manor, West Country class Pacific 34027 Taw Valley, Battle Of Britain classPacific locomotive 34053 Sir Keith Park & Ivatt class 4 43106. In addition the Railwayman’s Arms Wil be selling a number of guest beers during the gala, including Repton 4%, 1501 4.3%, Bluebell 4.6% and Erlestoke Manor 5% all brewed by Bewdley Brewery (try saying that after a few pints). After the Autumn Steam Gala the Battle of Britain class Pacific locomotive 34053 Sir Keith Park will also be departing from the Severn Valley Railway. The home fleet will appear alongside visiting locomotives for the Autumn Steam Gala Which this year include:

Southern Railway Maunsell ‘Schools’ class locomotive No. 926 Repton
The 1913 Great Eastern Railway (GER) Wordsell Y14′ class 0-6-0 Locomotive No. 564 (LNER J15 class)
‘P’ class locomotive No. 323 ‘Bluebell’ courtesy of the Bluebell Railway
Small England’ No. 2 Prince courtesy of the Talyllyn Railway

Severn Valley Railway On the Buses

Severn Valley Railway London Transport on the buses event takes place at Bewdley Station on Sunday 10 September 2017. This year it featured the 1914 built London & North Western Railway (LNWR) Leyland ‘Charabanc’ (reg. No. CC1087) from the London Transport Museum in 1924 LB5 ‘Chocolate Express’ livery, which was based at Euston Station in London running bus services in Watford and was used for pleasure-trips around North Wales . It was also requisitioned by the War Office in March 1915 for troop transportation in London. Also present were 1962 London Transport AEC Routemaster RM1005 with Euro 6 engine, Registration: 5 CLT and The first production AEC Routemaster RM 5 from 1959. Registration: VLT 5. In all Bewdley Station has up to 25 historical and modern vehicles in attendance, From a Daimler Metrocam to a 1953 Guy Special.

Fifteen Guinea Special

Stanier Black Five 45110

August 11 marks the anniversary of the 1T57 Fifteen Guinea Special rail tour which took place 11 August 1968 and was organised to mark the last occasion a steam hauled passenger train could legally run on the mainline in theUnited Kingdom before British Rail introduced a Steam ban the following day. It ran from Liverpool via Manchester to Carlisle and back, and was pulled by four different steam locomotives in turn during the four legs of the journey (with two engines sharing the third leg). The Fifteen Guinea Special was so named because of the high price for tickets on the railtour (15 guineas = £15 15s 0d in pre-decimal British currency). Ticket prices had been inflated due to the high demand to travel on the last BR steam-hauled mainline train.

The end of steam-hauled trains on British Railways was a turning point in the history of rail travel in Britain. The BR steam ban was introduced the day after the railtour, on 12 August 1968, making the Fifteen Guinea Special the last steam-hauled passenger train to be run by BR on its standard gauge network (though BR would continue to operate three steam locomotives on the narrow gauge Vale of Rheidol line until it was privatised in 1989). After this point all trains in Britain would be hauled by diesel or electric power, with the exception of privately owned heritage railways and privately run charters that are now able to run on the mainline provided that the steam locomotive has received necessary certification. The only steam locomotive to which the ban did not apply was Flying Scotsmandue to a clause in the contract in which she was purchased from BR in 1963. Several other railtours had already marked the end of steam haulage on other parts of the British (not UK) network. During most of these railtours, the Fifteen Guinea Special included, the line was flanked with large crowds due to the high popularity of steam engines and the belief that it was highly unlikely that they would be allowed back onto the network, although in the event steam specials on BR lines were introduced only three years later in 1971. All but one of the locomotives that hauled the train passed into preservation. 45110 now resides on the Severn Valley Railway and has been named RAF Biggin Hill. 44871 is currently mainline operational and resides on the East Lancashire Railway and 70013 Oliver Cromwell is now part of the National Collection and was restored to mainline running in 2008. It is based on the Great Central Railway. The only one not preserved LMS Black 5 no 44781 was used for filming of the film The Virgin Soldiers, for which it was derailed and hung at an angle for visual effect. After filming was completed, an enthusiast tried to purchase her, but was unable to find the money needed, so she was then sold for scrap and eventually cut up.

To celebrate the 40th Anniversary of 1T57′ and end of steam on British Railways a re-run of the tour ran on Sunday 10 August 2008 (as 11 August was a Monday in 2008). The original tour ran from Liverpool Lime Street-Manchester Victoria-Carlisle-Manchester Victoria-Liverpool Lime Street. Class 5 45110 went from Liverpool Lime Street to Manchester Victoria! While Britannia Class 70013 Oliver Cromwell travelled from Manchester Victoria to Carlisle! While Stanier Class 5 44871 and LMS Stanier Class 5 44781 travelled from Carlisle to Manchester Victoria and LMS Class 5 45110 Travelled from Manchester Victoria to Liverpool Lime Street. Locomotives used during the re-run in 2008 Included Stanier Class 8F 48151, Britannia class 70013 Oliver Cromwell, LMS Stanier Class 5 45407 (as first choice, 44871 was under overhaul) and LMS Class 5 45231. LMS Class 5 45110 was not used as its mainline certificate had expired. However, 45110 ran over the Severn Valley Railway on 11 August 2008 with a special 1T57 service and this was 45110’s last day in service with its at-the-time boiler certificate. LMS Class 5 45305 was allocated to the original train back in 1968 but failed the night before and was replaced by 45110.

The 15 Guinea Special at Barton Moss on the last leg from Manchester Victoria to Liverpool Lime Street hauled by Stanier 5MT 45110.The railtour started at 09:10 from Liverpool Lime Street. It was hauled by LMS Class 5 45110 to Manchester Victoria, arriving 8 minutes late at 10:42. No. 45110 was replaced with Britannia Class loco no. 70013 Oliver Cromwell – the last steam locomotive to be overhauled by BR – and the train departed for Carlisle at 11:06. The train arrived at Carlisle, 33 minutes late, at 15:29. For the first part of the return leg, two LMS Stanier Class 5 locomotives, 44781 and 44871, double-headed the train back to Manchester Victoria. The train departed Carlisle at 15:44 – 14 minutes late – and arrived in Manchester at 19:00, 12 minutes late. Re-joining the train at Victoria station, 45110 then worked the remainder of the journey back to Liverpool Lime Street, arriving only 9 minutes late at 19:59

Severn Valley Railway Classic Car Day

This years Severn Valley Railway Classic Car & Bike Day takes place on Sunday 30 July at Kidderminster, Highley Bewdley & Bridgnorth Sations and features approximately 200 vehicles on display. There are also cars on display at Arley & Highley Stations aswell as an impressive line-up of classic & vintage motorcycles on display at Hampton Loade Station. From Ford to Fiat, Jaguar to Lotus, Rolls Royce to Triumph, and VW Camper to Heinkel Bubble Car, there will be up to 150 vehicles in attendance.

 

Cars in previous shows have include a Bentley 3 Litre, 1926 Cluley, a 1926 Rolls-Royce, an Austin Maxi, Bentley & Rolls-Royce Classics, a rare 1934 Hillman Aero a 1920s Austin Seven Tourer. E Type Jaguar, Jensen Interceptor, 1960 Messerschmidt 200, Morris Minor 1000, Austin A40, Ford Zephyr, Vauxhall Viva, Austin 7, Hillman Minx, 1922 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, 1925 Bentley, 1934 Lagonda 16/80 & 1953 Armstrong Siddeley. 1959 Heinkel Bubble Car, MG TA, Daimler Dart, Jaguar XK150, Morris Minor Police Car, Austin Burnham, a Rover 10, Ford Consul, Riley RME, Triumph Mayflower, Alvis TE21, Triumph Roadster, Vauxhall Cresta, Austin 7, MG TA, Morgan 4/4, Jaguar S type, Wolsley 12/48, Morris Minor Traveller, Land Rover, Hillman Minx, Ford Capri, Lotus Elise, Austin A35, Ford Zephyr Zodiac, MG Magnette, Austin Cambridge, Daimler Dart, Jensen Interceptor, Austin Healey Sprite, Rover 10, Rolls Royce and a Jaguar XK12.