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Backtrack Vol 35 No 5 - May 2021

Backtrack, Britain's Leading Historical Railway Journal, covers all aspects of railway history from its earliest days through to more recent events up to around ten years before now including, early railway history from the 'pre-Stephenson' era, steam, diesel and electric locomotive history, railway company history, railway carriages and wagons, railway stations, railway ships, hotels & road vehicles, railway economic and social history, railway publicity and advertising. Backtrack's contributors include many of today's leading railway history writers. From the beginning the magazine has maintained a reputation for its production values and each issue contains a wealth of photographs reproduced to the highest standards, including a generous selection of historic colour. Published monthly, Backtrack is THE magazine for all who are interested in British railway history.

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United Kingdom
Warners Group Publications Plc
12 Issues

in this issue

5 min

Last month’s guest editorial highlighted a matter of increasing concern – that of providing secure futures for important collections of photographs, negatives and transparencies, particularly when a deceased photographer has not formally stipulated what should be done with them. Many of the esteemed photographers whose work has graced our pages from BT’s earliest days have moved on to the great yonder but fortunately had the foresight to ensure their collections have found homes with reputable organisations who are only too glad to ensure this great treasury is made available to railway enthusiasts, researchers, writers and publishers in line with the wishes of their benefactors. We are rightly grateful to them all. The Pendragon Archive features in BT do what it says on the label – show off a selection of our…

2 min
‘on the difficult stretch from the tyne to the border’… and onwards

Many would argue that by far the most interesting section of the East Coast Main Line is north of Newcastle where the railway does indeed at last encounter the sea from the clifftops, crosses the Tweed at Berwick by a superb viaduct and runs through some of the route’s finest scenery. GAVIN MORRISON is our photographic guide.…

7 min
the preston & longridge railway including the whittingham hospital railway

The first railway into Preston was the North Union Railway from the south in 1838, followed in 1840 by the Lancaster & Preston Junction Railway, the two eventually forming part of today’s West Coast Main Line from London to Scotland. However, a few weeks earlier Preston’s second railway had been opened on 4th May 1840, a horsedrawn line of 6½ miles to convey stone from quarries at Longridge to build many prominent buildings in Preston, docks at Liverpool and Fleetwood, and sea defence works on the Fylde coast. Longridge stone was also included in the North Union Railway’s bridge over the Ribble at Preston. The Preston & Longridge Railway was authorised by Act of Parliament of 14th July 1836, including a final ¾-mile inclined plane up to quarries at Tootle Height…

22 min
steam railmotors and push-pull auto trains in the wrexham district part one gwr steam railmotors 1904-1933

The Denbighshire coalfield around Wrexham and Ruabon formed one of the cradles of the Industrial Revolution. By the mid-eighteenth century shallow coal pits, early blast furnaces and stone quarries were being worked. Transport of materials and products slowly evolved from pack horse and carting to narrow gauge horse-worked plateways. Some fed the canal wharf at Telford’s 1805 Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. Volume output awaited conventional standard gauge railways. A dense network was to develop between 1847 and 1901. Most of the branches were single lines which became Great Western Railway. The London & North Western penetrated marginally from Mold. Later incursions saw the Manchester, Sheffield & Lincolnshire/Great Central reach the coalfield over the 1866 Wrexham, Mold & Connah’s Quay Railway from the north. In 1895 a Cambrian branch was completed to Wrexham…

17 min
strabane – a lost railway centre: killed by partition and religion part one

Any visitor to Strabane in 2020 would struggle to believe you if you told them that Strabane was once one of the largest railway centres in Ireland until 1965. Today virtually no evidence remains of the railway station in Strabane, which has mainly become yet another supermarket car park near Railway Street. Strabane was once a major railway town served by five different railways of two different gauges, owned by four different railway companies. The geographical location of Strabane made it into an important market town over 200 years ago, linked by canal to Derry/Londonderry since 1796. The location of Strabane would attract railways in the latter half of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. After the partition of Ireland, by 1922 Strabane now found itself divided by a new…

23 min
orbiting london

Travelling on a London Overground train from Clapham Junction, comparing it with a similar journey not so many years ago, I could not help again being struck by the query: “Where on earth have all these passengers come from?” – and noting again the amazing transformation that has taken place over a comparatively short period of time. But we need to go back to a date about 100 years ago, if we are to get the measure of what has happened – and is still happening. In the second half of the nineteenth century, London was well into the stage of urban development beyond being a ‘foot city’ – that is, a city where most people just walked from place to place. The main railways had often built their termini on…