The steam railway was the backbone of the Victorian age,
the bridge link between the Industrial Revolution, the
British Empire and the modern age.
As railways rapidly evolved from being small local
concerns serving mines and factories into main lines
shrinking travelling times firstly throughout Britain and
then the rest of the world, the scramble was on for
locomotive engineers to produce more powerful, versatile
and reliable locomotive types to suit every purpose.
As the national rail network came together, rival companies
competed to produce faster locomotives to claim a
greater share of potential trade. There were the great
Races to the North to see who could reach Scotland in
the shortest time from London, which produced steam
icons like Patrick Stirling’s legendary Great Northern
Elsewhere, smaller locomotives made a huge impact
in industry, allowing sprawling private railway systems to
serve colliery, ironmaking and quarrying complexes. The
mid-19th century pioneering introduction of steam on
lines like the Festiniog and Talyllyn railways opened up
many new possibilities in the field of narrow gauge,
hitherto the domain of horse traction.
By the end of the Victorian era, the earlier locomotives
typified by gleaming brass steam domes, no cabs,
huge stovepipe chimneys and enormous single driving
wheels had given way to what we immediately recognise
as ‘modern’ steam locomotive types – some of which
were so successful that they lasted into the final decade
of British Railways steam in the 1960s.
Not only that, but by the 1890s, steam locomotives
were being built for tourism and leisure purposes, as
evidenced by the Snowdon Mountain Railway and Sir
Arthur Heywood’s pioneering miniature railways.
Expert Robin Jones looks at the engines that made
Victorian Britain’s railways the envy of the world. In more
than 60 images and with a sharp and incisive text,
Victorian Steam is the ideal brief guide, in Halsgrove’s
collectible, pocket-size format.
A graduate of the University of Central
England, Robin Jones, founding editor of
Heritage Railway magazine, was a news
editor and chief investigative reporter at
the Birmingham Evening Mail, and over
the years has produced several books
and special publications, along with
historical features for numerous other
newspapers and periodicals. He has
been interested in railways from a very
early age, when his elder brother
Stewart took him trainspotting at
Widney Manor station in Solihull at the
age of four, at the end of the British
Railways steam age.
Imprint: PiXZ Books. ISBN 978 1 906887 89 6, hardback, 110x155mm, 64 pages. Published September 2010. Reprinted June 2015.