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The Locomotive Pioneers (Hardback)

Early Steam Locomotive Development 1801 - 1851

Transport History Trains and Railways

By Anthony Burton
Imprint: Pen & Sword Transport
Pages: 192
ISBN: 9781473843684
Published: 1st November 2017
This Week's Best Sellers Rank: #9

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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 has been a professional writer and broadcaster for over forty years, during which time he has largely concentrated on the history of industry and transport. His books include The Canal Builders, recently reprinted in its fifth edition, and The Railway Builders. He has written a biography of the great steam pioneer Richard Trevithick and is currently writing the story of railway engineer Joseph Locke. He has worked as writer and presenter on a number of TV programmes for all main channels, including documentaries on the National Railway Museum, the Great Western Railway, the locomotive trials at Rainhill and the Great Dorset Steam Fair.

Perfect Partner

Joseph Locke Civil Engineer and Railway Builder 1805 - 1860 (Hardback)

Most historians recognise the work of three engineers as being the men who developed the railways from slow, lumbering colliery lines into fast, inter-city routes. Two are very well known: Robert Stephenson and Isambard Kingdom Brunel. The third was Joseph Locke, who should be recognised for having made a contribution just as great as that of the other two. The Locke family had been colliery managers and overseers for many generations and Joseph, once he had completed his very rudimentary education at Barnsley Grammar School at the age of thirteen, seemed set to follow in their footsteps. However,…

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