British Railways Steam 1968 : The final chapters
This book follows, in strictly chronological form, the decline of the steam locomotive on British Railways in North West England during 1968, the last outpost of steam operation, up to its final extinction in August of that year. It is seen autobiographically through the eyes of the author and his friends, who had been following steam around the country for much longer than that final year.
Each area of working steam is visited and described in the order in which it became dieselised. Statistical methods of portraying traffic, locomotive allocations and diagrams are interlaced with stories surrounding the many full day, part day, evening and overnight trips undertaken and how they affected the participants in terms of success and failure, satisfaction and frustration. Not overlooked is just how this culminating year's intensive absorption of the shrinking steam scene influenced those involved in relation to the other things in their lives.
A social network among enthusiasts built up during 1968 as all strove to track down the diminishing steam workings and capture the live events in locations likely to produce good action from the engines, often captured on film or in recordings. The former is well represented by a variety of photographers who have contributed examples of their work which is often very relevant to the text and what was actually being experienced. This is an elegy for a lost era and a railway network which has changed radically in the 50 years since the events it recalls.