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Backtrack Vol 35 No 9 - September 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

Who goes where? When drafting this editorial around the beginning of July, it came to the forefront of my mind that it was nigh on eighteen months since I’d made a journey on a main line train, a span of time not equalled since my age was reckoned in low single figures and my public transport experiences amounted to no more than being bundled on to a Bury Corporation bus. I couldn’t say when my first train journey was, nor conjure up any recollection of it, but it would undoubtedly have been on the electric train to Manchester. The last occasion wasn’t anything particularly worth writing about, other than that it was, I think, in early March 2020 and was from Thirsk, currently my nearest local station, to Leeds. While walking through…

2 min
riding with the ‘glens’

The North British Railway had established quite a stock of 4-4-0 locomotives by the time the Class K ‘Superheated Intermediates’ were introduced under W. P. Reid in 1913, with 32 being constructed at Cowlairs Works up to 1920. The majority of the class started out at Eastfield shed in Glasgow and thus began a lasting association with the West Highland line to Fort William and Mallaig, whilst they also worked across to Edinburgh and extensively on the east side of Scotland. The company named them after glens, hence they became known as the ‘Glen’ Class, and later the LNER’s classification was D34. The RCTS Locomotives of the LNER described the ‘Glens’ as “popular, efficient and versatile” and the last of this excellent class remained at work until 1961.…

30 min
a great western tenancy

“We’re looking for someone to research Great Western Railway camp coaches!” The speaker was Paul Karau, boss of Wild Swan Publications in his front room/office in Didcot, talking from behind a table piled high with photographs, maps, plans, signalling diagrams, manuscripts and proofs. He was undoubtedly the man who did more than any other to raise the bar in railway publishing and research in the 1980s. I had just brought fifteen years of investigation into the Malmesbury branch to fruition with the delivery of a work on the history of the old Wiltshire line, which would result in a hardback branch line tome two years hence. Paul rightly felt that I should capitalise on the impetus and skills gained from the project by getting my teeth into another. I wasn’t…

10 min
frustrations of fuel efficiency: feed-water heaters part two

THE WORK OF F. H.TREVITHICK Frederick Henry Trevithick was the son of Francis Trevithick (Locomotive Superintendent of the Northern Division of the London & North Western Railway until 1857) and grandson of the ‘giant of steam’ Richard Trevithick, and he was the first locomotive engineer to carry out methodical experiments and trials to test different designs of feed-water heater. He had been appointed as chief mechanical engineer of the Egyptian State Railways in 1883, his first few years being devoted to rationalising and modernising the chaotic condition of the locomotive stock. Having achieved this objective, he turned his attention to incorporating improvements of his own invention in areas of feed-water heating and superheating. The level nature of the track and the invariable weather conditions in Egypt meant that each modification could…

17 min
battling beeching in the high peak part one

The report The Reshaping of British Railways by Dr. Richard Beeching was published on 27th March 1963. Many who accepted its basic tenets were surprised by the inclusion in the services scheduled for withdrawal of some well-used commuter or outer suburban routes, serving provincial cities. The sole criterion for their listing appears to have been heavy financial loss, exacerbated by the large ratio of peak to off- peak traffic requiring resources under-used for much of the day. Nevertheless, the loss per passenger may have been relatively modest and no allowance was made for the overall benefit of the service to the conurbations served, a point discussed later in this article. The first such service formally proposed for closure, and indeed the first of its type to be reprieved, was from Buxton…

28 min
the ‘royal scots’ britain’s greatest main line steam locomotives

The year 1948 was only eight days old when a memorandum was circulated among the six Regions of the new British Railways. Entitled ‘Interchange of locomotives between regions’, the document advised that the Chairman (Robert Riddles) of the British Railways Mechanical Engineering Committee had decreed that it was “desirable to obtain a preliminary comparison of the performance of the different standard locomotives in service’. The term ‘Standard’ was employed loosely here, referring to the classifications used by the former pre-nationalisation companies and should not be confused, by the modern reader, with the BR steam designs introduced after 1951 and which owed something – although, arguably not a lot – to the results of the 1948 Trials. Incidentally, the Mechanical Engineering Committee, one of eighteen in the Railway Executive, comprised an impressive…