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All Posts, Transport

Author Guest Post: David Knapman

Steam Heritage 1972 to 1985

Steam Heritage 1972 to 1985 follows a tried and tested format of historic pictures with informative captions to stir the memories of readers.

In looking through the book once more to provide comments on what makes this book special, there are very few, if any, photographs that have been published previously.

History is in the making here, in that a number of the locomotives pictured here in steam, have today been withdrawn from active service and are unlikely to steam again, sadly.

Let us have a look at some of the candidates:

  • 6000 King George V, which led the return to steam on the main line in 1971 is now silent in the STEAM museum at Swindon.
  • 6998 Burton Agnes Hall made numerous forays on the main line is now silent at GWS, Didcot.
  • 4771 Green Arrow, a very well respected main line performer rests in the new museum at Doncaster, while debates are held about the historic value of it’s all in one cylinder block casting.
  • In the period covered by the book, we were treated to the sights and sounds of venerable machines such as Midland Compound 1000, Precedent 2.4.0 790 Hardwicke, Stirling Single No. 1, and Great Northern Railway 4.4.2 990 Henry Oakley in steam at various locations across the country. We shall probably never see these locomotives working again so these photographs have an historical interest.

Some museum pieces have occasionally escaped into the daylight to reveal their lovely liveries in the sunshine, for example the Johnson ‘Spinner’ 673 at the Midalnd Railway Centre.

There are also some journeys or historic events that took place in the period which may not be repeated, such as the running of old carriages on the main line, the GWS set being shown here on its final run in January 1980. Then there is the level crossing at Morar on the Fort William to Mallaig line, where the guard had to walk to the crossing gates to open them by hand , whilst the steam locomotive waited patiently for the route to be cleared. Those gates did not last much longer!

One of my favourite events was standing in a foot of snow at the lineside in February 1983 at Ais Gill, on the Settle to Carlisle line, waiting for the southbound Cumbrian Mountain Pullman, headed by a classic combination of Midland Compound 1000 and Jubilee 5690 Leander. To see that train working its way up Mallerstang to the summit of the line at Ais Gill will forever stay in the memory.

October 1981 found 1838 built 0.4.2 Lion in steam at Didcot and that just had to be seen. Sadly the weather was dismal, but the occasion was historic and so worth witnessing.

Other delights include Flying Scotsman in single chimney LNER form in apple green livery. So much more elegant than the BR form we see today.

Do please dip in to the book and enjoy these sights of yesteryear. Who would have thought that history would be in the making in these years!!

Happy Reading!

Order your copy of Steam Heritage 1972-1985 here.