Graveyard of Steam by Brian Handley Dust Jacket 1979 99 Pages
Graveyard of Steam by Brian Handley Dust Jacket 1979 99 Pages
Graveyard of Steam by Brian Handley Dust Jacket 1979 99 Pages

Graveyard of Steam by Brian Handley Dust Jacket 1979 99 Pages

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Graveyard of Steam by Brian Handley Dust Jacket 1979 99 Pages
 
Graveyard of Steam by Brian Handley Dust Jacket 1979 99 Pages
The County of Glamorgan can boast within its borders both the birthplace of the steam railway and its final resting-place in Britain. For in February 1804, in the valley town of Merthyr Tydfil, a Cornishman named Richard Trevithick who was working as an engineer at Samuel Homfrey's ironworks in Penydarren built the first steam locomotive to draw a load on rails. Now, just thirty-two miles away, lies the graveyard of steam at Barry.
The graveyard lies in the middle of the South Wales dockland. The land which it occupies belongs to the Dockyard Authority and, once the site of a large pond, it is still known today as the West Ponds area of the dock. With the improvement of facilities and expansion of the docks the pond was subsequently drained, leaving a large flat area which was later developed by the Dock Authority for storage and marshalling purposes. The area of West Ponds is now regarded as redundant by the Dock Authority and is leased to Woodham Bros, railway dismantlers.
The late 1950s saw the first batch of deflated locomotives arrive at the breakers' yard, the beginning of the end of a glorious era. The steam locomotive, born in the early nineteenth century, had become the vital catalyst of the Industrial Revolution and later the backbone of the national transport system. Now it was on its way down: the days of riddling ashes in the firebox and cleaning steam pipes in the boiler were fast drawing to an end, overtaken by modern transport technology. Steam power was gradually and reluctantly giving way to dieselisation and electrification, and by 1968 the transition was complete. Steam had disappeared from the rails altogether.
The superseded locomotives were sold in job lots as scrap to be broken up for their valuable metals. The Barry yard with its rail access was ideally placed to accept these redundant heroes and so the locomotive graveyard began to evolve. Soon an impressive selection of several hundred locomotives from all the four regions were packed onto the rusty rails, cab to cab, shoulder to shoulder, row upon row. Some faced slow dismantling, being robbed of their wheels, axles and valve gear to leave those carefully machined bearing surfaces lying open to corrosion. Axle boxes once religiously lubricated would stand full of rainwater and choked by thriving weeds. For others the cutting torch, quick and clean; their magnificent towering driving wheels, expertly cast and finely balanced by master craftsmen, would be crudely devastated in minutes by oxyacetylene gas. Ironically, these engineering masterpieces may continue their lives in transport, first melted down into ingots, perhaps eventually to be fashioned into parts for cars and aeroplanes.
With the advent of the 'sixties and the continued dissolution of steam power, the numbers of discarded locomotives arriving at the breakers' yard began to increase steadily. The last consignment of locomotives from British Railways arrived in 1967, an assortment of standard classes. Some of them had served only a few years before being thrown aside in the wake of progress, and had had neither the time nor the chance to prove their capabilities.
In 1968 the first of these cast-offs won its reprieve. It was a Midland 4F o-6-o freight locomotive no. 43924 which had last seen service in 1965, and was rescued by the Midland 4F Preservation Society. After many painstaking hours of painting and refitting their proud acquisition was returned to the permanent way, to run again under its own steam across the picturesque West Riding countryside, on the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway.
With the vanishing of steam from British Rail tracks, the overwhelming public interest in steam railways was reflected by the growing memberships of the societies who were avidly searching for locomotives worthy of preservation. Consequently the graveyard became a veritable mecca for these new and expanding groups of enthusiasts, and they will need no introduction to Barry. Many of their proud exhibits were once sad heaps, rusting slowly in the fresh, salty air blowing in from the Bristol Channel. Over the past nineteen years the Barry yard has sold over eighty locomotives to numerous societies and associations throughout the country but now the majority of these locomotives have left the yard, the lucky engines destined for rebuilding, to have dials and gauges returned to their cabs, their boilers soon to be gushing steam and chimneys belching smoke.
For those left behind there is no shelter and little prospect of preservation. Cold impoverished cabs that were once Aladdin's caves for many boys are now empty and damp. Fireboxes are cold and wet. Wooden floors have long since rotted away to reveal crumbling chassis, punctured by numerous rusty holes. Flowers grow between the rusty tracks, and the silence is broken only by the songbirds, who have found ideal nesting places in the steam pipes and brake linkages of the motionless giants.
The idea for this book originated from many hours spent wandering among the condemned locomotives. The task of compiling a series of photographs to tell the story of these forlorn giants offered an interesting and enjoyable challenge, and here is a photographic rather than a narrative record of steam's final resting place.

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