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Freight Trains in the North of England (Hardback)

An Illustrated Survey, 1955-2018

Local History Transport Photographic Books Colour Books Trains and Railways

By John Matthews
Imprint: Pen & Sword Transport
Pages: 144
Illustrations: 200 colour & black and white
ISBN: 9781526749154
Published: 18th August 2020



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We all remember the famous trains of yesteryear like ‘The Flying Scotsman’, ‘The Royal Scot’ and ‘The Waverley’, passenger trains from the great days of steam, but behind the glamour of these celebrated expresses were the dirty unloved goods trains. Well into the 1980s it was possible to ride behind and experience most locomotives on passenger services, but the arrival of the HST and diesel multiple units soon changed this, and with the odd exception, today’s locos can only be found working on freight trains. The interest in the goods or freight train has risen greatly in recent years even against a backdrop of reduced depots, yards and variety of workings. This book brings together the work of many of our most outstanding railway photographers featuring some of their best work from the mid 1950s right up to the present day. The old local trip with its wooden trucks, the long mixed goods, the heavy steel train and Speedlink services all feature from the steam, diesel and electric eras. Put these trains into picturesque Northern landscapes or set them against almost forgotten industrial backdrops and we hopefully have a book that captures the ‘Freight Train in the North of England’


An excellent effort from the author and the publisher – easily recommended.

Railways Illustrated, February 2021

I must confess that I am usually overawed by the hundreds of titles of railway books that I see on the shelves of bookshops.

It is not only the sheer quantity of such books, but also that the titles and subject matter tend to presume much existing knowledge on the potential reader’s part.

The text tends to be less appealing than the historic photographs, often being either dry and factual or over-emotional and, potentially, written with rose-tinted varifocal lenses!

John Matthews’ new book is, fortunately, not in that category. For such a comprehensive and detailed survey, Freight Trains in the North of England is an enjoyable reading and browsing experience.

Railwatch, July 2020 - reviewed by Richard Lysons

The final book on freight trains in the UK. Although the photographs only encompass the northern part of England, they are so good and the railway landscapes and branches they show are so picturesque that they allow them to get to know them better. Some of his 200 photographs could be considered the best photographs of freight trains that have been published so far.

Read the full Spanish review here

Unos Cuantos Trenes

Author article: ‘Enthusiast’s love affair with a lifeblood of the north’ as featured by

The Clitheroe Advertiser and Times and Burnley Express

Author article: ‘Love affair with a lifeblood of the north’ as featured by

Lancashire Post, The Gazette and Nelson Leader

About John Matthews

John Matthews was born at Preston Royal Infirmary in September 1951 and grew up in a terraced street devoid of a single car! He left school at sixteen with the achievement of two GCE ‘O’ levels in English and Mathematics and a job working in Lloyds bank at Southport followed. He is now a widower after the sad loss of his wife Sharon four years ago. He has two sons and two grandsons of whom he is very proud. He has adopted a snow leopard and other interests include watercolour painting and cricket.

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