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Backtrack Vol 35 No 8 - August 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.

United Kingdom
Warners Group Publications Plc
12 Issues

in this issue

5 min

One of our articles last month looked at the ‘traditional’ summer holiday and the whole business of reaching your destination resort by train, in particular the West of England; the concluding part is in this issue. The railway embarked on holiday specials on an epic scale and our author looks at the challenges faced, not least by passengers enduring lengthy journeys from London, the Midlands and the North as late running tested their patience to the limit and beyond. We might, as enthusiasts, salivate over double-headed trains on the Devon banks, even pairs of ‘Kings’, and note how often a restaurant car was included to provide civilised catering, but we shall see that going on holiday required stoical resolution. At least there was the exciting prospect of arriving at the…

2 min
up in the gallery

The Penrhyn Quarries, together with those on the other side of Elidir Fawr at Dinorwic, near Bethesda, became the largest producers of slates in the world. The industrial development of the quarries goes back to the 1700s and by 1870 over 90,000 tons of roofing slates a year were being produced. The slate was quarried on ‘galleries’ cut into the mountain and locomotive working on them began in 1876. The 1ft 10kin gauge Penrhyn Railway carried slates for shipment to Port Penrhyn, near Bangor, until 1962; the quarry system lasted until 1965. These photographs by A. BACON are recent additions to the Colour-Rail Collection.…

25 min
‘the branch’ – the kent coast railway company

After many vicissitudes, mainly financial, the East Kent Railway had opened between Chatham and Faversham on 25th January 1858 and crossed the Medway into the South Eastern Railway station at Strood two months later. With extensions authorised into both London and Dover, despite best efforts by the SER to prevent them, in 1859 the East Kent metamorphosised into the London, Chatham & Dover Railway. By virtue of running powers west of Bickley over the MidKent Railway and the West End of London & Crystal Palace Railway the Chatham got into the Brighton side of London’s Victoria station on 3rd December 1860. Faversham to Canterbury had opened five months earlier but it was not until 22nd July 1861 that the company finally reached Dover. The South Eastern had been in the Channel…

31 min
rocket, the liverpool & manchester railway and ‘public relations’

Rocket, the prototype of the modern railway locomotive, is one of the most famous and recognisable railway locomotives. Indeed the name Rocket has become synonymous with early locomotives and this author has heard both Planet (1830), Locomotion (1825) and even Steam Elephant (1815) referred to as Rocket. Rocket appears in the ‘Thomas’ stories both as itself and as the character ‘Stephen’. Rocket even appears on bank notes, albeit erroneously in conjunction with George Stephenson. This fame and recognisability is perhaps thanks on the one hand to Samuel Smiles’s biography of the Stephensons, but on the other to the excellent 190-year-old ‘PR’ of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway. The L&MR, and its own success, did much to publicise not only the Rainhill Trials but the winning entry Rocket and its builder…

19 min
yorkshire coastal engine sheds and their locomotives part two whitby town

The engine shed put up at Whitby in 1847 by the Whitby & Pickering Railway, for the first use of locomotives, was built of stone, 105 x 35ft with two roads, arched entrances and a hipped roof with central smoke vent; a coaling crane completed the external facilities while an annexe at the rear of the dead-end building housed the depot office and fitters’ workshop. By 1867 increased traffic brought a plan for an extension to double the building in length, at the south end, at a cost of £1,500. However, that was quickly stymied by a legal case brought by a local resident who complained that the extension’s proposed roofline would spoil his view over the River Esk, to the town! Accordingly the roof had to be redesigned and…

16 min
‘a very dangerous place’ the bradenham crossing accident of 1929

Sitting prominently on the hilltop at West Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, with a golden ball on top of its tower, the church of St Lawrence is a well-known landmark visible from trains on the line between High Wycombe and Princes Risborough. Originally built by the Wycombe Railway as an extension of its Maidenhead-High Wycombe line to Princes Risborough and Thame in 1862, this line was rebuilt as part of the Great Western & Great Central Joint Railway which was opened in 1906. It was thereby converted from a single track branch to a double track main line. In the churchyard at West Wycombe is a gravestone commemorating Edward Algernon Stone, born 16th February 1906, who was “accidentally killed 5th Dec. 1929 in the performance of his duties as a postman at Bradenham…