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Colonel Stephens Light Railway Locomotives (Hardback)

Photographic Books Transport > Trains & Railways

By Brian Janes
Imprint: Pen & Sword Transport
Series: Locomotive Portfolios
Pages: 176
Illustrations: 250 mono illustrations
ISBN: 9781399023436
Published: 12th September 2023
This Week's Best Sellers Rank: #8


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Holman Fred Stephens (1868-1931) set himself up in the 1890s as an engineer and manager of the complete light railway as evolved by Victorian theorists to serve rural districts as yet bereft of the benefit of cheaper transport. To them, a light railway was not an assemblage of second-hand mainline equipment of dubious merit but of fit for purpose, new material. This ideal theory did not survive the near universal inability to raise sufficient capital to build and equip a light railway that would give a reasonable profit. Recourse was therefore made to the second-hand market.

Stephens became a master at the art of building and running railways with the minimum of capital. The history of the mechanical performance of his railways was also nearly always handicapped with inadequate engineering facilities. This left staff struggling, often surprisingly successfully, with a menagerie of locomotive types.

Limited standardisation was practised but most often expediency ruled. This gave rise to a glorious kaleidoscope of locomotives the history of each of which is outlined This variety was further coloured by Stephens generally regarding a locomotive name as far more important than its number.


"The author, curator of the Colonel Stephens Museum at Tenterden, is be congratulated on such an immensely-detailed and well-written book. He has brought together a diverse collection of individual locomotive histories, with access to a rich archive of surviving information and his specialist knowledge of where to obtain precious photographs. We have waited for a book of this quality for a very long time..."

Steam World - December 2023

"Another superb book from Brian James using his depth of knowledge of all things 'Colonel Stephens', whilst delving into the Colonel Stephens Museum archives...This book will become an instant hit with all Colonel Stephens enthusiasts."

Snowdon Ranger - No.22

"...the book is handsomely presented with decent-sized and well-reproduced illustrations, many new to your reviewer."

Tramway Review - December 2023

"...this book does succeed in its objective of being a comprehensive account of the locomotives selected, both steam and petrol, and the text is supported by numerous B&W photos which adequately portray the character of the Colonel Stephens empire."

Industrial Railway Society Bulletin 1117, November 2023

"This is a book that will act as inspiration for anyone seeking ideas for their next new build project."

Engineering in Miniature - November 2023

This is a fine book for not only anyone interested in Col.Stephens and his locomotives but also railway enthusiasts in general. As Curator of the Col.Stephens Museum at Tenterden and a leading member of the preserved Kent & East Sussex Railway, Brian Janes is well able and the right person to pass on a comprehensive record of this somewhat odd group of locomotives which Col. Stephens assembled for his rather quaint group of light railways. A most interesting and highly recommended book and a fine addition to the Pen & Sword Locomotive Portfolios.

Branch Line and Light Railway Publications

As featured in

The Pheonix/RVR

As featured in

The Colonel Stephens Society Journal - No 151, Summer 2023

About Brian Janes

Brian Janes is the Curator of the Colonel Stephens Railway Museum at Tenterden with which he has been closely associated for over twenty years. A Kent born resident he has family associations with Stephens’ Kent & East Sussex Railway and served as a director of that railway for many years after he retired as a Whitehall Civil Servant. He is a leading historian of Colonel Stephens nationwide collection of railways.

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