Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

The End Of Steam

I was watching a documentary about the end of the steam era last night. It was on; I had nothing better to do. And I rather like steam trains- not passionately, but with a steady affection. I think they're among the most beautiful things we've ever invented.

Here are some stray facts.

1. Britain held onto its stream trains long after most of Europe had abandoned them. That's because our rail network was less smashed up by the war and- money being short- we made do with what we had.

2. We were still building steam engines in the 60s- lots of them- right up to the moment that the decision was made to go diesel.

3. Most of the reconditioned steam trains still in use or on display come from a single dump in Barry. The owner of the dump held off dismantling his engines because he had other work in hand- and then found it was more rewarding to sell them to sentimentalists. Also he was a bit of a sentimentalist himself.

4. The wildlife artist David Shepherd is a steam enthusiast and owns several engines.

5. The romance of steam was rarely felt by the men in the cab. It was dirty, back-breaking, ill-paid work. Most railwaymen (except for those who lost their jobs) were very happy to switch over to diesel and electric.  
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