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Backtrack Vol 35 No 6 - June 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

1 min

You commented favourably on the presentation of an archive photograph instead of an Editorial on several occasions last year, so here we go with another one this month. Dillicar water troughs, south of Tebay, offered welcome refreshment for locomotives heading north through the fells on the West Coast Main Line having completed the Grayrigg bank and now facing the demanding climb to Shap Summit, and for locomotives which had surmounted the southbound ascent. LMS ‘Coronation’ Pacific No.46254 City of Stoke-on-Trent (the subject of an article in our April issue) is replenishing the tank while heading an express from Euston on 10th May 1956 and encounters Class 5 4-6-0 No.45414 on its way down from the summit.…

3 min
steaming through sussex

12 min
james fenwick - station master

James Fenwick was the son of Robert and Elizabeth Fenwick who lived at Greystead in remote, rural Northumberland. Greystead was located almost exactly half way between the villages of Bellingham and Falstone in what became part of the North British Railway territory south of the Scottish Border. (The Morpeth Herald newspaper later described James’s place of birth, in his obituary notice, as ‘Dalby Castle Mill’ near Bellingham; presumably this is near to Greystead). Robert and Elizabeth had five children of whom James was the second-eldest, being born in about 1848. His elder brother was John, born in about 1847 according to the 1851 census records. (This elder brother may have died in childhood as by 1861 James is shown as having a brother named John, some three years younger than he…

24 min
on a journey to nowhere: the origins and effects of the serpell report

On Thursday 20th January 1983 a colleague and I travelled early to London to collect our copies of the Serpell Report from HMSO in High Holborn, retreating to a nearby café for a preliminary study. Our first impression was of the text itself, dense with statistical tables and – unlike Beeching’s ‘Reshaping’ report, which has a seductive logic – its tone was disjointed. It set out well the reasoning behind the Inquiry and the issues facing the railways and was more thorough and analytical than it is given credit for now. However, a narrow interpretation of its remit meant that it largely presented alternatives, not firm conclusions. Standing out, as we shall see later, were seven rather crude computer-generated system maps, inevitably picked out by commentators with deadlines to meet. What…

17 min
express electric railways

At the turn of the nineteenth century there were many great trunk railways from the North and the West of England to London and these tend to have followed roughly the routes of the great roads which also all converged on the same city. From south of the Thames the position was similar with these shorter lines again all terminating in Central London. Neither in the south nor further north was there any equivalent fast way to travel from East to West – from the Eastern Counties the fastest services tended to run via London. There had certainly been routes across the Pennines for many years but none of these could be described as being fast and even in 2020 there is still only talk of creating one in conjunction…

27 min
south east by north british – to kelso

Kelso is a historic town in the Scottish Borders which was reached by branch lines built by two different companies, from opposite directions. Kelso station featured in two major rail operations 22 years apart, but never fulfilled the dreams of the railway builders so determined to reach it. The burgh of Kelso is distinguished as a ducal community with an impressive continental-style central square and a ruined 13th century abbey. Nearby, the impressive Floors Castle overlooks the confluence of the Tweed and the Teviot. Not surprisingly, the Guardian newspaper recently described Kelso as “a mighty fine town”. From the west, the North British Railway built towards the burgh in the mid-nineteenth century, while the York, Newcastle & Berwick Railway approached from the east. The latter, of course, became the North Eastern Railway…