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Thompson, His Life and Locomotives (Hardback)

Colour Books Photographic Books Transport > Trains & Railways

By Tim Hillier-Graves
Imprint: Pen & Sword Transport
Pages: 288
Illustrations: 250 colour & black and white illustrations & locomotive weight diagrams
ISBN: 9781526731166
Published: 12th February 2021



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Edward Thompson was the London & North Eastern Railways second Chief Mechanical Engineer, following the death of Sir Nigel Gresley in 1941.

He was in office from 1941-1946, when he retired, after a long career as a mechanical engineer, working for several railway companies, including the North Eastern, Great Northern and after the grouping the London & North Eastern Railway.

He was a very controversial figure, often maligned by railway historians for his reconstruction of several classes of steam locomotive, including the Gresley prototype pacific Great Northern, which many people still feel was unnecessary.

However there is more to Edward Thompson than his period as Chief Mechanical Engineer of the London & North Eastern Railway, in that he had a complex side to him, which might have originated from his experiences in the First World War, during which he served with distinction in France.

This book for the first time, sets out to explain both the man and his philosophy, looking at the complex reasoning behind the way he came to his decisions over locomotive design and why he decided to reconstruct a number of Sir Nigel Gresley's locomotives.

"I enjoyed this excellent book, it is well written, very detailed and full of technical information."

Bradford Railway Circle

This is a splendid book and I commend it to our readers, especially as it forms the third book in the trilogy by this author, following Gresley and Peppercorn as significant LNER locomotive designers.

These are beautifully produced books, and any locomotive enthusiast should be proud to have any one of them gracing their shelves.

The author has a sympathetic and attractive style of writing which seeks not to condemn that which has taken place but looks for explanations of why it has happened.

Well done Tim Hillier-Graves! A splendid piece of work.

Reviewer: Richard Gibbon OBE

York Model Engineers, September 2022

As featured in

Best of British

"Definitely a recommended title if you have any interest in the former LNER; other readers will also find the descriptions of the changes in the early twentieth century railway workshop and engineering scene give a fascinating insight into this period of change."

The Journal of The Stephenson Locomotive Society - No.933 Volume 98

Featured in

Best of British Magazine - March 22 Issue

"This is an important work that gives a new and well-argued perspective about Edward Thompson. The book is extremely well presented and laid out, with an excellent selection of photographs, several or rare, if not unique, interest, together with many locomotive drawings, line diagrams and statistical information. It is essential reading, not just to LNER devotees, but to anyone interested in the development of the steam locomotive in the 20th Century."

Phillip Benham, NRM Review Autumn 2021

This excellently illustrated book is a first class defence of the man and his locomotives.

Roger Backhouse, York Model Engineers

Tim Hillier-Graves’ work on Edward Thompson, the LNER’s penultimate CME, is a thoroughly readable and comprehensive account of his career and provides fascinating insights into the man and his achievements. Often seen as a controversial character, who is seen by some as attempting to undo some of Gresley’s work, the reality is somewhat different and Thompson as CME needs to be judged against the background of circumstances in which he was forced to operate.

West Somerset Railway Association

Thompson seems to have rather divided opinion during his lifetime, and has certainly done so since his death; this book takes a commendably dispassionate view of its subject, and provides a useful overview of the man and his role in the LNER’s history.

LNER Society Newsletter, Spring 2021

About Tim Hillier-Graves

TIM HILLIER-GRAVES was born in North London during 1951. On leaving university he served as an officer with the Royal Navy, seeing wide service on land and sea. For much of this time he specialised in weapon development projects, specifically missiles and heavyweight torpedoes, and worked alongside BAe, Marconi Space and Defence Systems and McDonnell Douglas in the process. In support of this work, he undertook prolonged periods of study and research at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, and the Royal Military College of Science, Shrivenham. Late in his career he changed specialisms to become Head of Investigations for the MoD’s Estates Organisation. From this he moved on to become Head of Finance and Planning and then into Human Resource Management where he specialised in outsourcing to industry. Then as an Assistant Director he took on responsibility of housing for military personnel. He retired in 2011 to focus more fully on writing biographies and books related to military, aviation and engineering matters.

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