A Fascination for Steam Engines.

West Country Class Express Engine, Lord Dowding, No 34052. Originally Named Braunton, No 34046, It was renamed to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

For as long as I can remember I have always been fascinated and admired steam engines. Whether it is a main line express engine or a small industrial locomotive they have always enthralled me.

This all comes about from an early age when we always seemed to be looking at and watching steam locomotives.

My family have history and connections with the railways. My grandfather worked on the railways on the East Coast mainline. He clearly had a fondness for the engines. I remember clearly when visiting my grandparents there were numerous books about the railways and we often went on walks via the local railway station and stood to watch the trains pass by.

An A4 pacific locomotive pulling an open wagon goods train at Sandy, Bedfordshire.

My father has always been a steam enthusiast. He speaks of days when he would go train spotting when he was a boy, and it seems he never got out of the habit. His enthusiasm has clearly passed onto me.

Hornby model of the Mallard A4 pacific engine, No 4468.

Model railways have always been present in my life. When I was a boy, I was introduced to the pleasure of making a layout and running the trains and today I have a collection of model trains. Regretfully they are hiding in our attic, but it is my hope to have a permanent layout one day.

Llangollen Railway Station on the Llangollen Heritage Railway.

I love visiting heritage railways to see steam engines in action. It is difficult to explain but the noise, smells, motion of pistons, clatter of coaches and wagons, even the workings of the track and signalling still have me enthralled.

It still amazes me when you consider that so much railway was constructed during the industrial revolution. So much has disappeared, and yet it is a pleasure to find and explore places where the railways were constructed. Discovering our industrial past gives me great pleasure. I study old maps to find old railway lines and use current maps to see if anything remains.

Great Linford and Bradwell Railway Stations, Milton Keynes.

In Milton Keynes we have an old railway line that is now a Redway (a path for cyclists and pedestrian). The old Wolverton to Newport Pagnell line. There are still remnants of the railway past and it makes for an excellent route to go running. So I can do two past times that I love at the same time. Exploring an old railway whilst going for a run. Absolute bliss for me.

Race the Train at the East Lancs Railway in Bury, Lancashire.

I shall never forget an amazing experience of Racing a Train last year. This was made possible by a dear friend – https://savagemumruns.wordpress.com/ – who gifted me the opportunity to do the run. It occurred at the East Lancs Railway in Bury, Lancashire. On arrival we discovered we would be running against the Union of South Africa, an A4 streamlined pacific locomotive. I am not going to bore you with details of the engine, its history, and heritage, but suffice to say that it was a fantastic experience that I will not forget. Thank you. Read about the adventure in her excellent blog – https://savagemumruns.wordpress.com/2018/06/21/savagemum-races-a-train/

The Mallard, No 4468, in the National Railway Museum, York. (Credit to K. Platt for the photo)

I find the way how railways and steam engines evolved fascinating. From the very early days of steam traction and the engineers (Richard Trevithick, George Stephenson, et al) through to the time when steam was being replaced with diesel and electric locomotives, right up to today.

Not forgetting the pinnacle of steam engine achievement with the Mallard locomotive creating the world record for steam engine speed in July 1938, achieving a speed of 126 miles per hour.

The commemorative plaque on the side of the Mallard.
Tornado, No 60163, at Milton Keynes Central Railway Station, April 2013.

From the first days of steam railways, right through to the present-day they have always commanded admiration, fascination, excitement, and awe. Even today, the Tornado mainline express steam engine (which was only constructed ten years ago), and the Flying Scotsman engine along with others draw large crowds when they are working, and I love being one of the crowd.

Steam trains and engines will always be working. They will always be popular and create an attraction. Heritage railways are becoming more and more popular as the years pass by and crowds are drawn to a railway line if there is a steam train passing.

May it always continue……..

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