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The Locomotive Pioneers (Hardback)

Early Steam Locomotive Development 1801 - 1851

Transport Trains and Railways

By Anthony Burton
Imprint: Pen & Sword Transport
Pages: 192
Illustrations: 150
ISBN: 9781473843684
Published: 1st November 2017

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This fascinating book explores the development of locomotives over the course of fifty years. From Richard Trevithick's first experimental road engine of 1801 up to the Great Exhibition some fifty years later, locomotives have come far in reimagining and reinventing themselves to serve the people and British industry.

The early years showed slow development amongst locomotives: Trevithick's first railway locomotives failed significantly as the engine broke the brittle cast-iron rails. The story is continued through the years when locomotives were developed to serve collieries, a period that lasted for a quarter of a century, and saw many different engineers trying out their ideas; from the rack and pinion railway developed by Blenkinsop and Murray, to George Stephenson's engines for the Stockton & Darlington Railway. The most significant change came with Robert Stephenson's innovative Rocket, the locomotive that set the formula for future developments.

British engineers dominated the early years, although in France Marc Seguin developed a multi-tubular boiler at the same time as Stephenson. The next period was marked by the steady spread of railways in Europe and across the Atlantic. Timothy Hackworth of the Stockton & Darlington railway supplied locomotives to Russia, and his men had an exciting ride to deliver parts by sleigh across the snowy steppes, pursued by wolves. In America, the first locomotives were delivered from England, but the Americans soon developed their own methods and styles, culminating in the Baldwin engines, a type that has become familiar to us from hundreds of Western films.

This is more than just a book about the development of a vital technology, it is also the story of the men who made it possible, from the steadily reliable team of William Buddicom and Alexander Allan, who developed their locomotives at Crewe, to the flamboyant Isambard Kingdom Brunel, whose broad gauge was served by the magnificent engines of Daniel Gooch.

The writing is exceptionally clear in dealing with such technicalities as valve gears, boiler pressures and wheel arrangement. Simple diagrams and photographs of original or replica locomotives help to provide additional insights. Yet this is by no means a dry history of mechanics, there is a good balance with commentary on the personalities involved , the commercial consequences of locomotive development and some amusing incidents.

Highly recommended to both general readers and students of engineering.

Railway Correspondence and Travel Society

As Burton concludes, in his welcome, easy-read style, few might have predicted the complete end of steam within a hundred years, but as visionaries our leading engineers were not much given to nostalgia.

Steam World, February 2018

A volume to my understanding of great general interest for all audiences.

Read the complete Spanish review here.

José Manuél Rico Cortés (Mister JM) - Miniaturas JM
 Anthony Burton

About Anthony Burton

Anthony Burton, is a much respected and published author of industrial and transport books, starting with his first book, Remains of a Revolution, the author has ongoingly researched and had published many volumes on the history of industry in Britain and abroad.


He has a passion for canals, stationary steam engines, railways and industrial history, which he has recorded for the last fifty years.


The author is probably Britain's foremost authority on the history of industry, from its beginnings to the present day, this is his one hundredth book.

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