British Steam Railways By O S Nock Dust Jacket 1961 8 color plates 94 Photos

British Steam Railways By O S Nock Dust Jacket 1961 8 color plates 94 Photos

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British Steam Railways By O S Nock Dust Jacket 1961 8 color plates 94 Photos
British Steam Railways By O S Nock Dust Jacket 1961 8 plates in color and 94 photographs  326 Pages
WHEN Mr Black suggested to me the idea of a book about the steam age on the railways of Britain I was momentarily aghast. So many general books about railways have been published recently, some by your humble servant, that for a minute or so I viewed the prospect of yet another with some apprehension. But then, as my kindly publisher developed his ideas a little more the form of a new book began to take shape. It should not be a history book, nor yet a technical book, but one to convey something of what the British steam railways were like, what the ordinary travellers saw of them, with no more of what went on behind the scenes than is necessary for an appreciation of the outward and visible results. The emphasis should be on the colour, the diversity, the picturesque, the curious, and that emphasis naturally places a good deal of the story prior to the fateful year of 1914.
With such a vast canvas to work upon, if reference had been made systematically to all the various railways and their ramifications the result might well have been bewildering, and unsatisfactory, in that space precluded any particular reference to detail. And it is in that very detail that much of the charm and fascination of the British steam railways used to lie. So I have chosen instead a series of essays on major aspects of the railways, over the years from their first inception as common carriers, to some outstanding events of the last few years that I have likened to Saint Martin's Summer.
In these days, when there seems little time, opportunity, or inclination to keep the working stock of railways reasonably clean it is perhaps difficult to recall something of the colour of the old steam railways. For this reason the subjects of the colour plates have been chosen to try and convey something of the glittering splendour of locomotives fifty years ago, and earlier. It would have been grand if we could have included examples of the locomotive stock of many more railways, such as the royal blue of the Great Eastern, the iron ore red of the Furness, the mustard yellow of the Midland and Great Northern joint, and the rich dark-green of the Great Central. Again, engines of the Taff Vale, the Lancashire and Yorkshire, and of the Hull and Barnsley alongside would have provided an interesting study in the different ways in which it was found possible to adorn a black engine. In this respect, of course, pride of place among our illustrations had to be given to the London and North Western.
In the great days of the steam railways of this country a black engine did not mean a dull or drab thing. Today we are well enough aware that a magnificently turned out Rolls-Royce, or Bentley, in black, can be outstanding among a group of gaily finished lesser lights, and the way Camden shed used to turn out the engine for the 2 p.m. "West Coast Corridor" express from Euston was such as to make her a very aristocrat among locomotives-not that there was much of the "Rolls-Royce" about the roaring, fire-eating, dividend-earning engines of Crewe. But there, in this one example, lies much of the fascination and the appeal of the British steam railways. I am old enough to have seen nearly all of the major lines in their pre-grouping colours; to have seen the Continental boat expresses of the South Eastern and Chatham run out on to the Admiralty pier at Dover, in days before the Marine Station was built; to have seen the Dean "singles" of the Great Western, and to remember vividly the impression created when a new number of The Railway Magazine brought news of the construction of the "Sir Gilbert Claughton."
As the years roll by, and so much that was good and beautiful on the railways of Britain is replaced by innovations that the exigencies of the present situation demand, one naturally tends to treasure these old memories, and in this book by writing of them, and of days far beyond my earliest personal recollections I have endeavoured to present something of a picture of the British steam railways in their most attractive days. Although it was much diminished after grouping, in 1923, the attractiveness of the railways did not cease by any means, and to symbolize the very climax of steam we have included the colour-plate of the "Silver Jubilee" express. The picture was painted for Olivia, my wife, many years ago; for since she first set eyes upon them twenty years ago the "Gresley A4 Pacifies" have been pre-eminent among locomotives in her eyes. It is a pleasure to include it, both as a tribute to she who, as usual, has typed the manuscript, and as a tribute to one of the greatest achievements in British steam locomotive engineering.

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