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Locomotives of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway (Hardback)

Local History Transport Photographic Books Colour Books Trains and Railways England

By Anthony Dawson
Imprint: Pen & Sword Transport
Pages: 296
Illustrations: 40 colour & black and white illustrations, photographs, map drawings & artists' impressions
ISBN: 9781526763983
Published: 16th March 2021


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The Liverpool & Manchester Railway was Britain’s first mainline, inter-city railway; opened in 1830 it was at the cutting edge of railway technology. Engineered by George Stephenson and his team – John Dixon, William Allcard, Joseph Locke – the project faced many obstacles both before and after opening, including local opposition and the choice of motive power, resulting in the Rainhill Trials of 1829.

Much of the success of the line can be attributed to the excellence of its engineering but also its fleet of pioneering locomotives built by Robert Stephenson & Co. of Newcastle. This is the story of those locomotives, and the men who worked on them, at a time when the locomotive was still in its infancy.

Using extensive archival research, coupled with lessons learned from operating early replica locomotives such as Rocket and Planet, Anthony Dawson explores how the locomotive rapidly developed in response to the demands of the first inter-city railway, and some of the technological dead ends along the way.

Anthony Dawson is a prolific writer on early railway history, and his books have an accessible and readable style. It could be easily imagined that everything that needed to be said about Liverpool and Manchester Railway locomotives has already been written about. Yet in 292 pages, Anthony Dawson uses extensive original research and his experience as a railway volunteer at SIM & NRM to bring together a new history of the locomotive power of the first main line railway in the UK. Written as part of a series - the first title is an Operating History - this book can also stand alone. It is not an account of the Rainhill Trials, although of course, the locomotives taken into the stock of the L&MR all are mentioned. Moreover it is an examination of the creation of a motive power fleet for a main line railway, including experimentation, the setting up of maintenance facilities and the establishment of a locomotive works. The subject of the people behind these innovations, developments and operations are also given coverage; a look into the names so familiar to us but also an insight into those less well known who nevertheless kept the wheels turning. For myself, I enjoyed the section on Melling's patent locomotives as Locomotive Superintendent John Melling sought new ways to make his locomotives more efficient. Rocket, Sans Pareil, Novelty and Planet are all covered, but there is so very much more in what I am sure will become a classic publication on the subject. So often a book on locomotives can become completely technocentric, but this is where Anthony's book comes into its own - by reviewing the personalities, the facilities and even the rolling stock itself - he is able to look into the realities of what was at first "The Grand Experimental Railway" full of trials, tribulations and technological dead ends - but within a decade became a mature main line with timetabled passenger and goods services. The text is referenced throughout, and a six page bibliography shows the depth of research to which the author went to ensure that he tells the full story. Board discussions, recriminations and wrong decisions, they are all recorded in a book that sets the standard for continued research into the Early Main Line Railways period. Copiously and well-illustrated, the foreword is by our very own former Head of Engineering Collections Richard Gibbon OBE - that should tell you all you need to know if you were in any doubt about buying this book. I look forward to more from Mr Dawson's pen, he is an historian to watch for the future.

Anthony Coulls, Friends of the NRM No. 176 Summer 2021

Using extensive archival research, coupled with lessons learned from operating early replica locomotives such as Rocket and Planet, Anthony Dawson explores how the locomotive rapidly developed in response to the demands of the first inter-city railway, and some of the technological dead ends along the way.

Salford Link - Issue 50, Winter 2021

This work complements the author's earlier work, The Liverpool and Manchester Railway.

Highly recommended.

Railway and Canal Historical Society

This book gives an excellent insight into what is known by its unofficial title as The Grand Experimental Railway. Anthony Dawson’s background working in museums, as a volunteer at the Science & Industry Museum and the National Railway Museum, plus research of the highest standard has resulted in a remarkable book, both scholarly and readable. The standard of production is up to Pen & Sword’s usual exacting standards. It is well illustrated with a sufficiency of mainly contemporary prints and drawings to support the story. It is thoroughly recommended if you are interested in early railways.

Ffestiniog Railway Magazine

This book displays a high standard of research and presentation. Anthony Dawson has written an excellent book. Definitely the best I’ve seen for some years and a credit to Pen and Sword.

Roger Backhouse, Friends of the National Railway Museum

There is a worthy tribute from former NRM Head of Engineering Richard Gibbon, whose foreword includes: “What sets this work apart form the rest is its thoroughness, diligence and attention to detail.” The author, whose five years writing this book generated 44 pages of references, has good reason to be proud of the result.

Steam World, September 2021

"A book that sets the standard for continued research into the Early Main Line Railways period. "

Anthony Coulls, The Journal of the Friends of the National Railway Museum - Summer 2021

I found it a fascinating read, and anyone with an interest in steam engines, engineering, or history of the industrial revolution will enjoy it too.

Read the full review here

Michael's Model Railways

The whole book is illustrated by an excellent selection of relevant drawings, engravings and photographs, many of which are in colour. It puts the importance of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway in British railway history into context.
In summary, this book is a fascinating read and is highly recommended.

London & North Western Railway Society

A book that every railroad history buff has to have in his library. It has all the information necessary to know this railway that was the pioneer in many things; the first based exclusively on steam locomotives, the first with double track throughout its route and the first with a signalling system among other things. In addition to all the information about this railway it also has a lot of good drawings and several photographs of the current state of some of its buildings.

Read the full Spanish review here

Unos Cuantos Trenes

About Anthony Dawson

Anthony Dawson is an historian and archaeologist with over ten years’ experience of working in museums and heritage, having worked for the Museum of the Manchester Regiment and the Science & Industry Museum in Manchester, home to the world’s oldest passenger railway station. He is a Railway Volunteer at S&IM and the NRM, working as a fireman on the unique replica of Robert Stephenson’s Planet. A graduate of the University of Bradford and a post-graduate research student at the University of Leeds, Anthony is also a member of the Railway & Canal Historical Society and the Newcomen Society. He has also written on the Crimean War, including the Charge of the Light Brigade (Letters from the Light Brigade, Pen & Sword, 2014).

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