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Alfred Raworth's Electric Southern Railway (Hardback)

Transport Photographic Books Colour Books 20th Century Trains and Railways

By Peter Steer
Imprint: Pen & Sword Transport
Pages: 344
Illustrations: Black and white illustrations & maps, 16 page colour plate section
ISBN: 9781526778413
Published: 16th February 2022

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The Southern Railway between 1923 and 1939 was the only British company to carry out a sustained programme of electrification which became known as the Southern Electric. Unlike many recent projects, each incremental step was completed on time and within budget. This successful project was more impressive as it was achieved during a period of economic stagnation (including the ‘great depression’) and despite government disapproval of the method of electrification. The driving force behind this endeavor was the railway’s general manager, Sir Herbert Walker, but at his side was his electrical engineer, Alfred Raworth, the man one journalist described as an ‘electrification genius’.

Alfred Raworth’s career began working with his father the eminent consulting engineer and entrepreneur, John Smith Raworth. Following the collapse of his father’s business Alfred joined the railway industry and devised an ambitious and innovative electrification design. This was discarded when the railways of southern England were ‘grouped’ into the Southern Railway after which he took responsibility for the implementation of the electrification schemes. With Walker’s retirement in 1937, those who continued to support steam traction took the policy lead. A marginalised Raworth retired but was later to witness the fruition of many of his discarded ideas.

"This is a beautifully produced large-format
hardback book which describes the life and
work of Alfred Raworth."

Tenterden Terrier, Summer 2022

"Produced to Pen & Sword’s usual high standards, this must be one of the most important books on the history on any of the ‘Big Four’ companies published in recent years, and is highly recommended."

Tony Kirby, The RCHS Journal

Featured in

Heritage Railway Magazine

If you like to get your teeth into a mega read which covers all aspects of electrification from the early innovations to the massive plan to transform Southern, then you will really enjoy this book.

PB Preservation Group members magazine - March 2022 Issue No88

Book review as featured in

Rail Express

This scholarly book by Peter Steer is an absolute masterpiece on the subject and covers not only the work carried out by Alfred Raworth and the electrification of the Southern Railway but, also looks at the achievements of his father John Smith Raworth, a distinguished consulting engineer and entrepreneur. This most interesting book is highly recommended to all electrical railway enthusiasts and all devotees of the Southern Railway in general.

Peter A. Harding - Branch Line & Light railway Publications.

As featured in

The Bookseller

In 1961 I was given at the age of 11, my first box brownie camera. The very first photograph that I took was of the Brighton Belle passing Streatham Common while staying at my Grandparent’s house in Balham. Ever since I have had a love of the Southern Electrics.

This is probably the best book on the subject ever published. Well illustrated it not only covers in detail the history of the electrics but also explains the technical as well as operational details. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Essential reading for all.

James Simmonds

About Peter Steer

A life-long railway enthusiast, Peter Steer’s career was as an engineer and manager in the electricity supply industry. He is a member of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (MIET). Since retirement he has written articles for and edited the Southern Railway Group’s magazine ‘Southern Notebook’. To add to his technical and managerial qualifications he has been awarded a Master of Arts Degree in Railway Studies by the University of York.

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