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Men of Steam (Hardback)

Railwaymen in Their Own Words

British History

By David Wragg
Imprint: Wharncliffe Transport
Pages: 256
ISBN: 9781845631338
Published: 26th October 2011



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Few modes of travel have the enduring appeal of steam railways. Today preserved lines, locomotives and rolling stock attract not just expert enthusiasts but more casual visitors who are keen to savour the distinctive atmosphere of a lost era in transport history. Yet these relics are but one aspect of the long story of steam, for they cannot reveal the human side of working life on the railways – the experience of the railwaymen who operated the machinery of the steam age.

It is this, the human aspect of railway history, that David Wragg has chosen as the subject of this landmark book. He has selected extracts from the personal reminiscences of railwaymen to create an allround portrait of the industry in its prime. He records their memories, anecdotes and insights, and he brings the routines of the steam railway vividly back to life.

As this fascinating portrait of the industry reveals, the men who worked on the railways during that era knew a different world from today’s electric and diesel network. The railways were not simply a job for life, but the job was their life. They could spend their entire careers advancing step by step through the industry, from engine cleaner to fireman to driver, and from working on a shunter to operating a famous named express.

Fortunately for us, the railwaymen of that time shared their experiences with one another through their employee magazines
and their books, so they have left behind them a fascinating record of their work, their attitudes and concerns. The observations, eyewitness accounts, operating procedures, complaints, anecdotes, and simple descriptions of the long-lost daily routines of the steam railway are the raw material for David Wragg’s remarkable book.

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About David Wragg

Born into a naval family in 1946 David Wragg was educated in England and Malta.He has worked in journalism and PR, writing for The Sunday Telegraph and Spectator and Scotsman. Has published with Harper Collins, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, Suttons, Hale, and others. Lives in Guildford.

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