Sunday, 24 August 2008
1968 and all that
It's forty years since BR finished with mainline steam. I had hoped to to see the recreation of the Fifteen Guinea Special, but sadly I was working and was unable to go.
The end of steam fascinates me, it has done for a long time. I would dearly love to model the end and give a true reflection of the motive power in use. So many books do give the impression that steam was everywhere 'til August 1968 and then all of a sudden it was diesels instead! Though it is understandable in books on the subject to focus on steam and not diesels in this instance!
There have been a few publications appearing recently to mark this fortieth anniversary, some quite general about steam in Britain, others look at not just the end of BR steam but the preservation movement, which whilst an important development for the scene as a whole, but they do rather dilute the issue in this case.
One publication, which is a 'magazine special' which WH Smith's have taken a liking to, is a superb piece by Alan Castle - Steam - The Grand Finale. It is subtitled as as a tribute to the men and the machines, which is a nice touch as the railway is all about people, and in many ways is what makes railways such a rich subject. The photos are superbly reproduced and for £7.99 is it superb value!
My only real criticism is that it is produced as a magazine when really, something to this standard should really have been a book - bound in a similar to the British Railways Illustrated and Railway Bylines annuals. For all the work that has obviously has gone into the publication, being a softbound magazine seems to cheapen it slightly. However, the fact that such a superb piece has been published is the main thing and I can't recommend it enough!