List of contents
The Loco Builders
• Oliver Vaughan Snell Bulleid CBE 12
• Charles Benjamin Collett OBE 32
• Sir William Arthur Stanier FRS 46
• Sir Herbert Nigel Gresley CBE 60
• Henry George Ivatt 72
• Robert Arthur Riddles 76
• Edward Thompson 112
Steam in the BR Regions
• Southern 22
• Western 38
• London Midland 52
• North Eastern 64
• Eastern 66
• Scottish 96
• BR Standard Locomotives 76
• War Department Locomotives 86
Stanier designed 8F 2-8-0 48632 is seen double heading with a BR Standard 9F 2-10-0, on a very long train of vans through the Cheshire countryside at Delamere.
BRITISH RAILWAYS - The steam years
Every page is a mine of information - with dozens of never before seen images.
s far as steam operations are concerned the figures are an even starker illustration of the changing times. On 1 January 1948 steam locomotives at work in the UK totalled just over 20,000; at the end of 1960 around 16,000 remained, but by midnight on 8 August 1968 that total was nil! Well in standard gauge terms that is; BR did continue to operate three narrow gauge steam locomotives for a little longer.
British Railways came into being on 1 January 1948, following Royal Assent being given to the Transport Act 1947. The four companies which came into being in 1923, LMS, LNER, GWR and SR became one entity with overall responsibility for the then mainly steam-operated network. The property and rolling stock of the four companies was re-branded and administratively six regions within BR were created. They were the London Midland Region, Eastern Region, North Eastern Region, Scottish Region, Southern Region and the Western Region.
To look forward it is sometimes appropriate to take a cursory glance backwards and, in the case of Britain’s railways, to the events of 1939-1945. To operate for the common good, and with cohesion, the four railway companies and their subsidiary operations were placed directly under government control. The control order was made on 1 September 1939, under the Emergency Powers (Defence) Act, 1939. Official statistics collated in 1943 illustrate the enormity and complexity of the network. The 19,624 route miles when translated into single miles and counting sidings, loops etc totalled an ‘actual’ 59,958 miles of standard gauge track (4ft 81¼2 in) on which 10,300 signalboxes were controlling movements.
The number of sleepers to one mile of track was recorded as 2112. More than 11¼2 million cubic yards of stone ballast and several hundreds of thousands of tons of steel rails were required annually. All carriage types totalled 45,838 vehicles providing 2.65 million seats, while over 1.25 million railway wagons and 17,318 containers were in service. There were some 7000 passenger stations augmented by 6900 goods stations.
Enormous tonnages of freight were carried, eg the weekly total of coal moved by the railways peaked at four million tons which was approximately 80 per cent of all that produced. The postal service was almost entirely dependent on the railways for trunk movements and over 25 million mailbags and 90 million parcels were annually moved by train. In addition to rail vehicles the companies owned approximately 35,000 horse-drawn and motor vehicles plus 130 steam ships.
Great strain was placed upon the railway system during WWII. The story of Britain’s railways at war is a fascinating one and has been well documented. Many of the steam locomotives which passed into BR ownership had been used way beyond their anticipated working lives, furthermore the debilitating constraints of wartime had meant that appropriate maintenance standards were understandably difficult to achieve.
Simply put the very constituents of a working steam locomotive, if left unmaintained, will conspire to produce impaired performance, or at worst failure. Water, steam, high temperature combustible gases, various metals both ferrous and non-ferrous and reciprocating motion are not naturally compatible bedfellows. Thus British Railways inherited a large amount of rolling stock, and indeed items of infrastructure, which in 21st century terms were less than fit for purpose. The post-war government considered that something had to be done, that something in their view was the creation of British Railways in 1948; that organisation would continue to operate steam locomotives albeit in decreasing numbers for 20 years.
BR continued to build (or buy from outside contractors) steam locomotives from the programmes already in place by the big four, in addition to building locomotives in their own right.
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