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Biography of British Train Travel (Hardback)

A Journey Behind Steam and Modern Traction

Transport History Trains and Railways

By Don Benn
Imprint: Pen & Sword Transport
Pages: 264
ISBN: 9781473858442
Published: 7th June 2017

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Biography of British Train Travel is a collection of mainly previously unpublished articles and short stories, covering a lifelong interest in railways. It spans a wide spectrum over the years, from the early days in Kent in 1960, through the many hours on the lineside on the Surrey Hills line and the South Western main line, to the last frantic years of steam on the Southern, and the current steam scene, as well as the privileged and exciting times spent riding on the footplate of steam locomotives.

It majors on the author’s main railway passions of steam locomotives, train running performance, including modern motive power and all matters Southern. Locomotive performance in Europe and a tramway are also included, as is a fascinating minor- and little-visited narrow gauge railway in southern England, plus heritage traction on the London Underground.

The book comprises approximately 350 illustrations, many in colour, as well as contemporary timetable extracts and copies of notebook pages, which cover shed visits in Scotland. Fifty train running logs are included, together with some detailed records of days spent by the linesides of railways when steam was still the predominant motive power in parts of the south.

A book that is diverse and curious and interesting for those who are on the rails.

Read the complete Spanish review here.

José Manuél Rico Cortés (Mister JM) - Miniaturas JM

Beautifully illustrated book chronicling Britain's railway heritage. No one can fail to be moved by the contents of this book, it really is superb.

Read the full review here.

Books Monthly

Don Benn, the author of this book, was born about half a generation earlier than me, so he got to see the transition from steam to electric that I JUST missed. However, the area he covers is where I grew up riding on the Southern Railway, and so I was delighted to see the wonderful pictures, and to read his reminiscences about railways in Kent, Sussex, and Surrey just before I experienced them.

The personal nature of the stories brings an immediacy to the material presented, and complements the excellent selection of photographs and other snippets such as timetable extracts notebook extracts.

While reading this book, my memories of being a youngster on the trackside and on the trains was rekindled very evocatively.

I highly recommend this book as a great repository of personal reminiscences combined with a wonderful set of photographs capturing the spirit of Southern Railways.

James Petts

About Don Benn

The author was born in south London and developed a love for railways and steam locomotives at an early age. Most of his career was spent in the transport industry, both public and private sector, including ten years owning and running his own bus company. The author spent many hours covering the end of Southern steam and, following this, chased down the remaining steam in Europe between 1970 and the early 1980s. Since retirement he has worked part time for two transport companies and writes a monthly column for a railway magazine. He often travels across Britain and Europe in search of steam.

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