The International Steam Pages
International Steam Books (2002-5)
Please note that this page accesses reviews to the end of 2005, please click here for later reviews.
Keith Chester acts as Editor of our books page. Keith is a well-known globe trotter who has turned to writing his own books. He wrote back in 1997(!):
"Welcome to our books page. We'd like to provide a forum for all those books on international steam which are either ignored by the mainstream publishers or are so superficially reviewed as to be useless; so this will not be a page for reviews of books on "Steam on the Severn Valley" or the umpteenth account of the A4 Pacifics. We will look at photo albums, historical works, even lists of statistics, as long as they are of "international steam".
Quite how this will work remains to be seen. I live in Vienna and can relatively easily cover the German speaking market, plus obscure languages in eastern and central Europe. On a selective basis I purchase books from the UK, but clearly there are many I do not get to see; this is even more true of countries like France and Spain, for example. So if anybody wishes to contribute a review to this column, then please feel free to do so, first contacting me on:
And of course, if you wish to send me a review copy of your latest opus, then I would be very happy to receive it (particularly if your book is a very expensive one!) and write a review of it. Equally, if you don't like or disagree with my review, then let me know."
Ångturbinlok (26th November 2001)
Deutsche Reichsbahn in Österreich (8th November 1999)
Dropping the Fire (29th October 1999)
Extreme Steam (17th December 2000)
Famous Last Lines 2 (28th January 2000)
Far Whistles (4th May 2000)
Forestry Railways in Hungary (29th October 1999)
Halfway to Heaven (19th February 2001)
Indian Narrow Gauge Steam Remembered (RD 7th November 2001)
"Istoria locomotivelor si a cailor ferate din Banatul Montan" (Updated 26th October 2000)
Locomotives of Quality (21st August 2001)
Lokomotiven der "Groß"-Deutschen Reichsbahn (8th February 2000)
Lokomotiven für die Ostfront (22nd September 2000)
Manning Wardle Locomotives (25th May 1999)
Mariazellerbahn in der Landschaft (6th April 2001)
Mountain Railways and Locomotives from old picture postcards (26th April 2000)
Narrow Gauge Rails to Esquel (4th November 1999)
Parovozy - Russian & Soviet Steam Locomotives Volume 1 (17th October 2000)
Queensland Canefields Steam Era (11th June 1999)
Railways and War (22nd April 1999)
Railways of the Caribbean (21st August 2001)
Reihe U (26th November 2001)
RENFE Steam Remembered (RD 5th November 1998)
Reseau Breton and Vivarais Narrow Gauge (25th May 1999)
Siberian Postcards (updated 1st December 2001)
Steam and Rail in Indonesia (22nd September 2000)
Steam and Rail in Slovakia (18th October 1998)
Steam Train Adventures in the Americas (RD 26th September 1998)
Sugar & Railroads. A Cuban History, 1837-1959 (28th January 2000)
Tales of Asian Steam (27th September 2001)
The Barbados Railway (1st December 2001)
The Era of the Bush Tram in New Zealand (11th June 1999)
The Hunslet Engine Works (4th November 1999)
The Railways of South America (1st June 2001)
The Red Devil and Other Tales from the Age of Steam (18th October 1998)
The Smoke that Thunders (13th October 1999)
Today's Steam on the Sugar Lines of Cuba (Vol 1) (18th October 1998)
Woosung Road the story of China's First Railway (RD 11th November 1999)
Estonia has become much more accessible since the end of the Soviet empire, but that was sadly just too late to see their extensive narrow gauge railways which had largely disappeared by the mid 1970s. There has been little published on Estonian narrow gauge, and we must welcome this book by the eminent Estonian railway historian Peeter Klaus with further input and its English text shaped by the experienced hand of Keith Chester.
Narrow gauge started in the Tsarist era in the 1890s as privately financed 750mm gauge public “feeder” railways, which became quite extensive light railway routes, and with the development of military fortress lines at Tallinn before the First World War, by 1919 there were 367km of narrow gauge – nearly all of 750mm gauge, with a few elements of 600mm using German military Feldbahn equipment. Yet it was to be the inter-war years from independence in 1919 that was to be the golden era with an extensive network of state-owned 750mm public lines developed in the central and southern regions which totalled 675km by 1939, without significant wider gauge competition, where they had absorbed the private lines, and re-used some military locomotives. Many of these lines were regarded as main routes with expresses and sleeping cars and comprised nearly half of the entire Estonian network. The Second World War was a time of considerable hardship and turmoil with both German and Soviet occupation, but at least the USSR provided them with some of their best steam power in the late 1940s before substantial dieselisation from 1957 saw steam ousted. In parallel there were an extensive range of industrial lines where no less than 59 separate enterprises are listed.
As its title implies, this book concentrates on the locomotives that operated these systems although it also provides a good historical context for the reader. If the numbers of steam locomotives on the public lines rarely exceeded 100, their diversity and the wartime drafting in of locomotives uprooted from Germany, Poland, neighbouring Baltic States, and the wider Russias means the rosters changed considerably. For instance, the first narrow gauge public railway steam locos had come from Belgium and a number of Russian “standard” 0-8-0 classes built by Kolomna, but the military locos were largely of German origin, and during the First World War Alcos were imported from the USA. Bolstering their military resources in Estonia, in 1915 the Russians commandeered locos from Finland including a Baldwin 2-8-2T from the Jokioisten Railway who never got it back. There is also a fascinating account of Latvian skulduggery in “retrieving” locomotives in 1945 where they conveniently renumbered Estonian engines to disguise them as their own to ensure they got the best survivors – ignoring minor issues such as loco type and wheel arrangement!
Locomotives ranged in size from small 0-4-0Ts to ten-coupleds where main line power relied on eight-coupled tender engines. Between the wars Estonia was short of resources and rebuilt older engines as well as construct a few new 2-8-0s in the Franz Krull works of Tallinn. High speed diesel railcars emerged from 1936: on a special long distance trial in 1936 one touched a record 102kph and averaged 69kph: a fantastic achievement on 750mm gauge. After 1945 steam had its swansong with an influx of the war reparation East German “Gr” and the “PT-4 family” 0-8-0s before the standard Russian diesel-electric Bo-Bos of class “TU” took over. The industrial railways were just as diverse with a motley collection of locomotives where some were war booty. The Lavassaare peat railway is included where operations still survive, and it is also today the site of the Estonian Railway Museum.
The book proceeds chronologically with railway histories and rosters plus individual loco accounts which chart a complex story logically and clearly, well supported by several maps and diagrams, plus a series of appendices which expand and summarise. There are over 140 black & white photographs largely from Klaus’ collection reflecting his research over thirty years which are well reproduced despite some being very challenging – their interest overrides that. They reflect operation on the railways going back to the beginning and are well suited to a book where the author has drawn on a wide variety of sources of personal reminiscences from railway workers, many of whom are no longer with us.
Highly recommended as a study in narrow gauge as well as providing insight into a country and its narrow gauge railways, and also continuing the Stenvall's tradition. The book is printed on high quality glossy paper.
THE NARROW GAUGE STEAM LOCOMOTIVES OF ESTONIA
FRANK STENVALLS FORLAG
Christopher Walker has followed his Railways of Latin America in Historic Postcards with this pictorial history of the narrow gauge in Colombia, from the same publisher. It fills a gap in the English language publications of railways in South America. The author’s passion for the railways of that continent is reflected in the considerable research, and comprehensive collection of photographs, that form a significant part of this publication. The photographs are supported with detailed captions. Each of the thirty-one private, Department and State railways are given a section concisely describing their history and locomotive policy. Additionally, there are chapters devoted to the standard locomotive designs and the nationalization era. The coverage of P.C.Dewhurst’s work, and his influence, highlights a contribution to British and Colombian locomotive history that is little known.
The railways were built to three feet and metre gauges. This gauge anomaly is decidedly odd as they were mostly intended to connect! Many of the metre gauge lines were later converted to three ft. gauge. The number of manufacturers and locomotive types, often built in small numbers, more than compensated for the lack of gauge variety. There was no allegiance to the builders of one country, with locomotives produced by eight British, eight American, six German, two Belgian and one Czech builder. The types ranged from 0-4-0 to 2-8-2, from 0-4-2T to 2-6-6-2T Mallets and 2-8-8-2T Kitson Meyers. Other unusual types included a six-engined Sentinel locomotive, a Shay, two 4-6-2 2-6-4 Beyer-Garratts and two 4-6-0 0-6-4 Armstrong Whitworth look-alikes. Add to this a BMAG steam railcar, a steam tramway and the import of a surplus Southwold Railway locomotive, and the variety is as impressive as it is interesting.
The publishers have followed their traditional format and produced a high quality publication with sharp and clear photographic reproduction. The only criticism is that the detailed location maps lack the level of definition and clarity that would make them easier to refer to.
The book reflects good value for the price and is an essential addition to the libraries of aficionados of the narrow gauge, unusual locomotives or the romance of South America’s railways.
Narrow Gauge in Colombia – Railways and Steam Locomotives by Christopher Walker
The survival of steam operations on Cuba into the twenty-first century has kindled interest not only in the railways of that country but also of the other islands of the Caribbean. In recent years we have been treated to a number of interesting books on this subject: Chris Walker's Railways of Latin America in Historic Postcards, David Rollinson's Railways of the Caribbean and Jim Horsford's The Barbados Railway (all of which were favourably reviewed here). To this admittedly small but growing list we can now add a fourth book The St. Kitts Railway, also from the pen of Jim Horsford.
St. Kitts is one of the less well-known islands in the Caribbean, as well as being one of the smallest, encompassing a mere 176 sq km. Like many others in the region, its fortune was based on sugar, which was first planted commercially in the 1640s. By the 1770s St. Kitts was reckoned on a per capita basis to be the wealthiest colony in the British Empire but thereafter the industry went into genteel decline and was only rescued from its traditional methods of production, and hence oblivion, by the opening of a modern, central sugar factory in 1912. To serve this a 2 ft 6 in gauge railway, approximately 12 miles long, was opened along the northern coast of the island; this was extended in 1925 around the western and southern coasts to form a circle of track some 30 miles long (aptly likened to a Hornby Dublo train set) around the entire island. Initial motive power came in the form of six Kerr Stuart "Brazil" class 0-4-2STs. Diesels gradually took over and the last steamer was retired in 1972; one survives - just - and hopefully will be restored. Economically, the sugar industry on St. Kitts has not been viable for many decades and has only been kept afloat by government subsidies for social reasons. At the time of writing its future is very much in the balance, though a new tourist operation may save at least part or all of the railway.
Such are the barebones of the sugar railway on St. Kitts as revealed in Jim Horsford's new book. This is very different from his previous offering on the Barbados Railway. This latter had closed in 1937 and inevitably the book was a history of the line, complemented by a fascinating collection of old photographs. By way of contrast The St. Kitts Railway has survived until the present day and the focus is very much on it as a working railway. The history of the line is only briefly described and the number of illustrations of the steam era is comparatively few. Rather we are treated to a detailed examination of what is still, thanks to those government subsidies, a traditional Caribbean sugar cane railway: apart from the switch from steam to diesel traction, operations have changed little in nearly one hundred years. Jim Horsford gives us a fascinating insight into both the sugar industry and how it has been long and well served by narrow gauge railways. He writes well and interestingly, and the book is profusely illustrated, with the majority of photos in colour. In short Jim Horsford has produced another very good book on a Caribbean island railway and it can only be hoped he will be encouraged to continue the work - and in the same vein, for The St. Kitts Railway can be highly recommended.
The St. Kitts Railway
ISBN : 1-900340-18-6
Price : £9.95 (post free worldwide; add 20% if airmail required)
Available from :
Paul Catchpole Ltd.,
Bukovina, the land of beeches, was perhaps the poorest and most remote of all the provinces in the old Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. It was thickly wooded and thinly populated. Railways arrived in 1866 in the form of the notoriously impecunious Lemberg - Czernowitz - Jassy Eisenbahn and over the years other lines were added to the system, including a number of secondary railways built by the quasi-legendary Bukowinaer- and Neue Bukowinaer Lokalbahnen. To save money two of these were constructed to the 760mm gauge standard in the Monarchy. These were the Czudin - Koszczuja and Brodina - Seletin railways. Opened in 1908 and 1912 respectively, they were both common carriers, though their primary purpose was the transport of timber. Motive power came in the form of four Krauss compound 0-8-0Ts.
Bordering on the Russian Empire, Bukovina was ideally placed to suffer considerable destruction during the Great War as the Habsburg and Romanov armies moved to and fro; the two narrow gauge railways certainly did. Occupied several times by both sides, buildings and bridges on the Czudin line were destroyed and both the Austro-Hungarians and Russians lifted track to use elsewhere in their war effort. At Brodina, the story was similar, save for the fact that when it was occupied by the Russians for a second time in 1916-17, they started to rebuild it to standard gauge, a task completed by the Austro-Hungarians in late 1917. As a narrow gauge railway, it had been but four years in service. In 1918 Bukovina became part of Romania and in 1945 it was divided between Romania and the USSR.
The convoluted history of these narrow gauge railways, together with that of 11 forestry and field railways, is the subject of Volume II of Wolfram Wendelin's series "Karpatendampf", which is devoted to the study of the railways in this somewhat obscure corner of the Monarchy. The author wisely limits his attention to Northern Bukovina, the part of the old Habsburg province now in Ukraine; wisely, because many of the narrow gauge and forestry railways in Southern Bukovina have already been treated by railway historians (most recently, albeit in a more cursory fashion, in Beier & Hufnagel's 1993 book "Wälder and Dampf Volume II", which is still in print). By way of contrast, there has been to now little or nothing in print on Northern Bukovina's narrow gauge railways. This gap has been ably filled by Wolfram Wendelin.
In layout and appearance, the book follows the pattern set in its predecessor, reviewed here on 13 December 2002. The history of these lines and their locomotives, together with a survey of what remains today, is comprehensively dealt with and I doubt if there is much more to be said about most of them. This is likely to be the definitive work on the subject. The text is supported by an interesting collection of photographs, though it has to be said that in general the black and white reproduction lacks contrast and is muddy.
"Schmalspurbahnen in der Nordbukowina" is a valuable and most welcome addition to the ranks of railway history. It is the result of many years of research both in archives and in the field and demonstrates that there are still many subjects out there awaiting an author and a book. The good news is that Wolfram Wendelin is aiming to produce further volumes in this series and we can only look forward to each one with great expectation. There is more to railway history than yet another rehashing of the life and times of Gresley's A4 pacifics or the Steyrtalbahn.
"Schmalspurbahnen in der Nordbukowina" is recommended without reservation.
KARPATENDAMPF Volume II
by Wolfram Wendelin
Published by and available direct from the author:
Price (within Europe) : EUR 29.00 including post and packing.
Books on forestry railways are clearly very popular at the moment. Though very different in both concept and content to the Czech photographic album recently reviewed here, Waldbahnen in Österreich 2 (Forestry Railways in Austria 2) is an excellent publication and a worthy addition to the growing ranks of books devoted to Central European forestry railways.
It comes from the pen of Manfred Hohn who has devoted a lifetime to the study of forestry, agricultural field railways and narrow gauge industrial lines in his native Austria. In 1980 Hohn published his first book on Austrian forestry railways, Waldbahnen in Österreich, which listed 76 lines; this was followed by a second, somewhat expanded edition in 1989. In the intervening years sufficient additional new information has emerged to justify a second volume.
It should first of all be made clear that Waldbahnen in Österreich 2 does not contain the material already published in the two editions published in the 1980s: the author proceeds from the assumption that readers already possess one of these. Waldbahnen in Österreich 2 falls into three distinct sections. Part I describes no fewer than 23 forestry railways which the author has unearthed (sometimes quite literally) since the 1980s. These range from short lines, perhaps a few hundred metres long using animal or human power, to surprisingly large and complex systems, with a small fleet of steam and/or diesel locomotives. Here the most notable was the 600mm gauge line built to serve a POW camp at Knittelfeld during the Great War. The more than 20,000 POWs were put to work in the local forests and a railway, some 15km long, was built to move the timber and to serve the needs of the camp. Seven locos worked here. Part II provides us with some corrections, but above all additional material in the form of information and photographs on some of the 76 forestry railways dealt with in the original 1980 volume. This can vary from a few lines or single photo to several pages of text and photos.
The third part of the book deals with an examination of the antecedents of the forestry railway which emerged in its now familiar form about 1890. Many of these were quite bizarre and fortunately never left the drawing board. My favourite is an 1864 scheme by an Austrian engineer to harness the power of water. Running water was conveyed in a chute well above the track level. From this water was to be pumped and then fall by gravity onto a large water wheel mounted on a four-wheel truck. The energy thus generated was converted by a series of gears to drive the wheels of the truck, which thus became a kind of mobile watermill. Additionally, Hohn looks at the development of the technology of forestry railways, as well as of rolling stock. He also reproduces a number of advertisements and catalogues, which reveal just how large an industrial sector the forestry railway once was. This is a very comprehensive book.
The (German) text is always interesting and authoritative, and the book is well illustrated with a wide range of photos, ranging from pin sharp professional works to amateur snapshots. Quality of course varies, but the photos are never uninteresting. Reproduction is to a high standard, though it must be said that some of the colour photos are rather anaemic. An English summary of the book is available.
All in all this is a first class book. Manfred Hohn has the reputation of being a tireless researcher and it is unlikely now, after forty years of delving into Austria's forestry railways, that there is much more left for him to discover about these railways, the last of which closed in 1974. Waldbahnen in Österreich 2 may thus be seen as being the definitive work. It comes highly recommended to anyone with an interest in narrow gauge and forestry railways.
Waldbahnen in Österreich 2
In addition to publishing books on narrow gauge railways, Karl Paskarb also sells them and has a very wide range in stock. Anyone interested in narrow gauge railways is well advised to check out his website:
Donald Binns has made the study of the Kitson Meyer his lifelong quest, and this book is a nominally a revised edition of his original work published in 1985 [by Wyvern] and a subsequent edition in 1993. It is however substantially different from its predecessors and concentrates largely on a detailed assessment of the 78 Kitson Meyers built by Kitsons themselves together with some closely related "look-alikes" from other builders.
This is, without doubt, the definitive work on this distinguished locomotive concept, which challenged to be one of the most successful designs of articulated locomotive from the 1890s until the Garratt finally became ascendant in the 1930s. Its history is intertwined with some of the most interesting railways of South America and sales were also achieved in Spain, southern Africa, India, The Philippines and Jamaica.
Its most celebrated work was serving on the most demanding of railways that penetrated the Andes: Tocopilla, Tal Tal, Antofagasta-Bolivia, and both the Chilean and Argentine Transandine railways. Early machines had two adhesion power bogies and some of these were to remain in service for long lives of nearly 80 years. The combined rack and adhesion engines for the Transandine railways were amongst the most complicated locomotives ever built, but it was the late locos built in the 1920s-30s with leading and trailing wheels for Colombia that represented the ultimate designs. Had these refined machines arrived a little earlier they might have given the Garratt greater competition, particularly where continuous grades and curves were encountered.
The author has investigated a wide range of sources to establish the detailed history: the origins of the design, each Kitson Meyer delivery, and some wider comparisons. Diverse sources include an extensive dialogue with the family of P C Dewhurst whose career had included experience with the Chilean Transandine, Jamaica Government Railway, and the state railways of Colombia: all of whom operated Kitson Meyers, where Dewhurst significantly influenced Kitson's development of the design.
The book is in a large format using high quality paper and is heavily illustrated with many pictures reproduced to a high standard, often in large sizes. Diagrams, maps and historic photographs and postcards support more modern action shots where enthusiasts such as David Ibbotson, Roy Christian and Dusty Durrant managed to capture them in operation before the last working steam disappeared in the 1970s.
Whilst I am not entirely disinterested as a supplier of some images, this is an absolutely essential book for any enthusiast of locomotive design and Latin America in particular. It is unlikely to be superseded as the definitive statement on these fascinating locomotives. The author states that this is to be his last word on the subject, and as this edition is limited in number, you should buy it without delay.
Kitson Meyer Articulated Locomotives by Donald Binns
144pp, page size 21 x 27.5 cm. substantially illustrated. Softbound.
The Carpathian Mountains stretch from Bratislava through Slovakia, northern Hungary and southern Poland, southern Ukraine and into Romania, where they curl around the heart of the country in the form of an inverted "C". They are at times spectacularly beautiful and, as readers of Bram Stoker's Dracula will know, the stuff of legend.
The Carpathians were once thickly forested and as the pace of industrialisation picked up in late nineteenth century Central Europe, so narrow gauge forestry railways (usually 760mm gauge) began to penetrate its wild and remote valleys, and the rape of the Carpathians commenced.
The reign of the forestry railway by and large came to an end in the 1960s. In the Carpathians the decline was a little slower thanks to the skewed world of Marxist economics, but with the exception of Romania and Ukraine, there were virtually no forestry railways still operating when the Iron Curtain fell in 1989; today the survivors can be counted on the fingers of one hand.
Fortunately for us, Czech enthusiasts were very active in recording the declining years of these charming forestry railways, first in Slovakia and neighbouring Hungary and Poland, then Romania, and finally after 1989 in Ukraine. The results are brought together in the 400 (!) pages of this quite remarkable new photo album: Karpatské lesní zeleznice (Forestry Railways in the Carpathians).
There are some older photos of earlier times on forestry railways as well as some of the few lines which have survived into preservation, but the vast majority of the photos were taken by the authors and their collaborators between 1960 and 2000. Whilst the scenes in Romania will be familiar to many, those in the other four countries covered in this work will certainly be less so. Here Slovakia and Ukraine dominate, but Hungary and Poland are reasonably well covered. Most of the photos of Slovakia and Romania are of steam (though some tasty old electrics do make an appearance), whilst diesels feature heavily in the photos of Hungary and Ukraine (Poland falls between the two). Captions, at the rear of the book, are adequate and are in Czech, German and English (though the latter at times needs some imagination to interpret).
Nearly all of the 372 photos are reproduced one to a page and to a generous size (no need for a magnifying glass with this book); approximately 80 are in colour, though inevitably the pre-1989 material is ORWO quality. Printing is on art paper and reproduction is generally good, though it has to be said it is often a little on the dark side; in a few cases, detail is completely lost. This is a great shame as the photos themselves are consistently of a high standard.
What sets Karpatské lesní zeleznice apart is the predominate position the authors give to the people who worked or travelled on these often quite isolated forestry railways. When, now nearly two decades later, I look back on my own first visits to forestry railways in Romania, I am struck by how relatively unimportant the locomotive was to the total experience of the forestry railway: it was also the breathtaking scenery, the genuine quiet and solitude, the big black bears glimpsed from a passing train, being squeezed into the corner of a crude unheated coach by 30 sheep being taken down the valley for slaughter; but above all, the people who shared their simple ways of life and food with you. Karpatské lesní zeleznice conveys this great intangible of atmosphere superbly. This is undoubtedly the best collection of photos of forestry railways I've yet seen.
If like me you have long been under the spell of forestry railways, then you will certainly wish to acquire this book; if you have never visited one, then Karpatské lesní zeleznice will, better than any other book I know, show you what you have missed. But be warned: it weighs in at nearly two kilos, so strong arms are needed to enjoy it; the effort will be worthwhile. Highly recommended.
Karpatské lesní zeleznice
by Ale Kucera and Ale Bílek
ISBN : 80-903308-0-0
Either send Euros 40.00 to Ales Kucera (U svobodárny 18, 190 00 PRAHA 9, Czech Republic)
Or send a sterling cheque for £27.00 to Keith Chester (Kornhäuselg. 9/8/22, A-1200 WIEN, Austria).
Some first things first: "21st Century Extreme Steam" (not the sexiest of titles) could have done with a good sub-editing and with fewer pictures of the authors. It is the follow-up to "Extreme Steam" published in 2000 and reviewed here. That was, with a few reservations, a good book: "21st Century Extreme Steam" is a considerably better one.
In some 300 photos the authors have chronicled those steam operations in China which have survived into the 21st century. They write that the book "vividly brings to life the final chapter in the history of working steam" and the claim would seem reasonable. The book covers the last pockets of steam workings on China Rail and on the various regional railways. In comparison with "Extreme Steam", it includes a substantial section on purely industrial lines (and as this is being written comes news of fresh discoveries of industrial systems for the authors to visit) and on the few remaining narrow gauge railways. Overall, "21st Century Extreme Steam" is far more balanced book than its predecessor. Even if you have never been to China, you will come away from this book with a comprehensive idea of steam operations in that vast country in their final phase. And those of you who have visited China in recent years will have memories jogged by what is a splendid collection of photos.
For "21st Century Extreme Steam" is also to be enjoyed for its photos. Not every one is a masterpiece (and frankly some should have been left out), but in general picture quality and reproduction are both of the highest order. Again "21st Century Extreme Steam" scores over its predecessor by a far wider use of photographic techniques - there is a good variety of shots and camera angles. These are complemented by including the work of a number of other photographers, who also add their own styles. And best of all is the inclusion of a number of black & white photographs, which for my money are consistently good and are amongst some of the best images in the entire book. Looking at them, one starts to realise what has been lost by the almost universal triumph of colour photography in the last three decades.
So congratulations to the authors for braving the winters of northern China and providing us with a worthy tribute to the dying days of steam in China. The authors speculate that Chinese steam will have disappeared completely by the time of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing: so they have at least another five years to put together another album - hopefully as good as this one. "21st Century Extreme Steam" is a must for anybody interested in Chinese steam (and circumstances of late have rather dictated that many of us have become so) and is much recommended.
21st CENTURY EXTREME STEAM
This is a book I never thought I would see: a quality photo album dedicated to Russian and Soviet steam locos (well, there are a few shots of diesels and electrics) in which not one preserved loco or special working appears; nor will you find any works photos. Having sweated to find illustrations for my own PAROVOZY series, this is a major achievement. But not only has a collective of Russian steam photographers succeeded in putting together an album of Soviet steam, but they have done so superbly.
Steel Rhapsody, a black & white album, spans the best part of the twentieth century in its coverage, with its earliest photos from pre-Revolutionary days. The real revelation, however, is the number of photos included dating from the 1920s and 1930s. These appear to be enthusiast photos rather than official, staged ones. Here we are provided with some rare treats: a bevy of 4-6-0s, an Sv 2-6-2 working a local of four-wheelers out of Moscow, shots of M class 4-8-0s on passenger trains and, best of all, one of the Kolomna streamlined 4-6-4s at speed on the "Red Arrow" express between Moscow and Leningrad in 1939. Loco types previously known only from works photos suddenly come to life.
The bulk of the book, however, is given over to postwar views of standard Soviet types, ranging from the 1950s to the 1980s and early 1990s when the odd loco was still fired up for the occasional working. These were difficult years to be a railway enthusiast in the Soviet Union: photographing trains most definitely discouraged and the threat of arrest (and sometimes worst) hung over anybody daring to do so. Yet clearly there was a small, determined - and brave - group of men who pursued their hobby and whose work we can now admire. That a high proportion of the photographs in the book taken in this period show trains in the distance bears perhaps mute testimony to the difficulties these men faced.
What surprised me was the relative sophistication of the images. Here was a small group of photographers, presumably isolated and unaware of developments in railway photography elsewhere, of the work of, say, Link or Gifford, and yet who produced photos which often go well beyond the standard ¾ shot. Though there are images in Steel Rhapsody that are fairly forgettable (and even these may be excused by the fact that they are virtually the only photos of real Soviet steam we are likely to see), there are also some damn good steam photos in the book.
Text throughout is in Russian with an abbreviated parallel English version. Reproduction in Steel Rhapsody is good on good quality paper (those of you who have the Moskalev book on narrow gauge steam will be pleasantly surprised). My particular copy was a gift, but I understand the book is available from Moscow and costs USD 30, including postage anywhere in the world. (The local price in rubles is also the equivalent of 30 dollars, so there's no way of getting it cheaper!) Perhaps somebody can advise us where and how to order it, for this is a good book and deserves a wide audience.
STAL'NAJA RAPSODIA (Steel Rhapsody)
This is what Chris Walker had to say about the book:
"This is the third of the three planned volumes on Russian steam produced by Keith Chester as both author and general editor over the last three years.
Like the other two volumes, it opens the door on a whole range of information that has not previously been generally published, or is only available in fragmented forms in various languages. The writing is shared with other authors from Russia and former Soviet states, and collectively they provide a detailed account of a number of Russian themes.
The introduction recounts the arrival of narrow gauge which came early to Russia, influenced in 1871 by the pioneer Robert Fairlie, although the first railways were wider than he proposed at 3' or 3' 6" gauge. An impressive looking wood fired Double-Fairlie from Sharp Stewart was their first narrow gauge loco, and other early machines came from Kitson and Manning Wardle. After 1892 the use of narrow gauge was regulated, and lines thereafter tended to be mainly of 750mm gauge. Equipment imports were then German-influenced, but volume Russian production came to dominate, with designs that I was only generally aware of. Loco builder Kolomna was the main protagonist with a range of six and eight coupled machines from the 1890s onwards although hardly any have survived. The activities of agent Arthur Koppel are an interesting part of this.
War booty locos transported back to the mother country and convoluted locomotive transfers provide intriguing diversity. By the early 1960s at its zenith, there were no less than 50,000 km of narrow gauge, before it went into abrupt decline, and these were largely unrecorded in railway history outside Russia until now.
The book wisely does not attempt to be a total survey of all narrow gauge railways in detail, and subsequent chapters deal with the Russian Imperial Army field railways, Peat Railways, and children's Pioneer Railways, all of which had locomotive exchanges with other industrial lines. The war reparation locomotives supplied after 1945 also have a separate chapter including the GR and OP-2 types of 0-8-0s, which are probably the best-known Russian machines.
The final chapter is a history of the 750mm gauge Beloretsk Railway. If you haven't heard of it that is probably because it was well away from Western Europe serving the mining industry in the Urals. Its credentials as a major narrow gauge system are impressive: 426 km in length at its maximum, 2.5 millions tons transported annually, with well over 100 steam locos on its all time roster, including a diverse range of imports as well as Russian built. The sheer scale of this is a testimony to the previous absence of information that this new book now provides.
Like other publications from Trackside it is crammed with historical information, drawings, lists and illustrations that are an entertaining mixture of official pictures plus some amazing photographs of unsung steam engines toiling away in obscurity. [Even the Russians photographed trains in peat bogs!] The Kolomna narrow gauge family of locomotives is a constant theme and their narrow arched cab windows are a refreshing contrast to more familiar shapes.
This book is an essential addition to the narrow gauge student's bookshelf. Even if you have previously had no interest in Russia, it provides a whole new insight, and if nothing else, it tells the story of what happened to locomotives imported from the rest of Europe and the USA, whose fate was largely unknown.
Like the other volumes the print run is limited, so order your copy now!"
Paravozy - Volume 3: Narrow Gauge Steam Locomotives in Russia and the Soviet Union
By Keith Chester - Author and Editor
This is a nice book. It tells the story of the Brazilian São Paulo Railway, the Paulista, opened in 1867 and renamed the EF Santos a Jundiaí in 1946. This was built by British capital and engineered by two Scots, James Brunlee and Daniel Fox. The result was, as the title of the book suggests, a railway which, in terms of its physical plant and much of its rolling stock, could easily have been found in the English Home Counties.
The railway was constructed to transport exports, above all coffee, from Jundiahy north of São Paulo to the port of Santos, a distance of about 115km. Nothing unusual in that save for the fact that São Paulo lies on a plateau some 760m above sea level and which extends to within a few kilometres of the coast, where it precipitously drops down an almost sheer mountainside to the coastal plain. Early attempts to provide a railway to transport the lucrative exports of the Brazilian interior to the coast foundered on the ability of engineers to overcome this obstacle. The solution lay, as it often did in the early to mid nineteenth century, in an inclined plane, or rather in a series of four inclines ranging from 1780 to 2139 metres in length and worked by cables. By the mid 1890s traffic was well beyond the capacity of the original system and a new parallel route with (slightly) easier grades and five inclines was built. At the same time the opportunity was taken to introduce some rather curious looking steam brake locomotives, which resembled a tram loco somewhat. These had the dual purpose of acting as powered brake vans on the inclines and of shunting on the short level sections between each incline. Eventually 20 of these were built in the UK. This method of operation prevailed for nearly seven decades. By the 1960s the inclines were gain proving incapable of coping with all the traffic on offer and in 1968 it was decided to replace the inclines by an electrified rack line laid on the trackbed of the original inclines. This was completed in 1972, but such was the pressure of traffic that for a further decade the old and the new operated side by side until the inclines finally closed in 1982.
This is the story recounted in "A Very British Railway". At its heart lies a superb collection of photographs illustrating many aspects of the line; these were taken from an album believed to have been assembled for presentation to the King of the Belgians on the occasion of his visit to the railway in 1920. Officially posed and taken with a full plate camera, these are magnificent photos. They are supplemented by a number of older views and postcards from the collections of various contributors, plus some photos from enthusiasts who visited the railway in the 1970s and 1980s. In addition to Paul Catchpole's well told history of the Paulista Railway and its inclines, there is an enthusiastic account by the late Dusty Durrant of his day on the line in 1983. The book concludes with a survey of all the locos, steam and electric, used on the railway over the years.
All in all, this is a very interesting and attractive looking book, even for somebody like myself whose interest in South America's railways is marginal. It is warmly recommended.
"A Very British Railway" by Paul Catchpole
Published by Locomotives International and available from:
Locomotives International, The Haven, Trevilley Lane, St TEATH, PL30 3JS, ENGLAND
Price £15.95 or Euros26.00 (incl. postage)
ISBN : 1-900340-15-1
For a period of about 70 years until the lorry killed most of them off in the 1960s thickly forested Central Europe abounded in narrow gauge forestry railways. Fortunately a few survived in communist Eastern Europe until 1990s and a lot of people took advantage of the new freedoms of that decade to visit the last forestry railways of Romania, which were still steam-worked. I am sure that few who made that particular pilgrimage did not find it one of the great railway experiences. Yet the literature on forestry railways is rather thin. The Czechs and Slovaks have done a reasonable job on their neck of the woods, as have the Austrians on both their own country and on Romania; there's a little on Polish and Hungarian forestry railways but by and large the history of these fascinating railways has gone undocumented.
We are thus fortunate in a new book, "Karpatendampf" (Steam in the Carpathians) by Wolfram Wendelin, which not only fills an important gap in our knowledge but does so well. Geographically the book deals with the forestry railways in the former Austro-Hungarian province of Eastern Galicia. Before 1914 this was the poorest and most remote part of the Monarchy, a posting every soldier and bureaucrat dreaded. However, the presence of limited quantities of oil and its strategic position (it bordered arch-rival Russia) meant that the province was reasonably well railwayed. From about 1890 onwards, narrow gauge railways (almost all 760mm gauge, this being Austria-Hungary) began to appear. After 1918 much of Eastern Galicia became part of Poland and after 1945 came an even more substantial change when the old Habsburg province was absorbed into the USSR. Its narrow gauge railways were regauged to the Soviet standard of 750mm and equipped with Soviet rolling stock and locomotives, first steam and from the mid 1960s diesels. The twentieth century was thus a period of turbulent change in Eastern Galicia and this is reflected in the history of its forestry railways.
Initially attracted by the sheer natural beauty of the region, Austrian author Wolfram Wendelin then set out to discover what he could about these railways, once so very typically Austrian but closed to Western visitors for nearly half a century. This has led him to the remotest corners of Eastern Galicia, riding and photographing the few remaining forestry railways in service, but more often tramping the trackbeds of long-closed systems. The opening up of Ukraine since 1991 has allowed access to archives there and many hours have also been spent in archives in Vienna. The result is a book that is both well-researched and clearly a labour of love. The author provides a history of each forestry railway in Eastern Galicia. He has dug deeply and these are often surprisingly detailed. A clear map accompanies each system, as does a loco list. Given the upheavals in the region (four regimes and two world wars in 75 years), these again are often lengthier than we might have dared hope for. As may be expected, they are at their vaguest for the Soviet era and most detailed for the years pre-1918. Additionally, there are also accounts of visits made to individual forestry railways in the Austro-Hungarian era and of some of Wolfram Wendelin's own experiences in the 1990s.
To complement the text there is an excellent and extensive selection of photographs, in both colour and black and white. The colour work inevitably focuses on post 1991 (dieselised) operations, as well as scenes of the remains of closed forestry railways. I was very pleasantly surprised by the selection of black & white photos. I'd expected a few works photos, early official views and the occasional postcard. These of course all find their place but are richly interleavened with photos of locomotives and trains at work covering the entire steam era. So there are pictures of delightful Budapest built tanks as well as standard Soviet 0-8-0s. The author is to be congratulated on assembling such a splendid collection of photos.
I have three small gripes. First, both the title and subtitle (Narrow Gauge Railways in Eastern Galicia) are misleading. Diesel operations are given wide coverage and, apart from a rather cursory look at one or two peat and other industrial railways, the book focuses almost exclusively on forestry railways. Second, the photographs are, Slezak style, all lumped together. This presumably keeps costs down but clearly detracts from the book's visual appearance; as a book per se, "Karpatendampf" could have been better. Finally, the bindings on my copy don't appear to be too robust and I rather fear the book might well fall apart with all the use it is certain to get in the coming years.
"Karpatendampf" is published privately by Wolfram Wendelin. It might be difficult to find it in bookshops so is probably best obtained directly from him. See also the (German) website: http://www.schmalspur.at/karpaten.html
A second volume on the narrow gauge railways of another long-lost Austrian province, Northern Bukovina, is promised. Perhaps the author may be persuaded to produce a third volume, covering the many non-forestry narrow gauge railways of this region. If so, we will be in capable hands. Volume I is highly recommended.
"Karpatendampf: Schmalspurbahnen in Ostgalizien"
by Wolfram Wendelin
Available from the author:
As those lucky enough to have visited it during the 1960s will recall, Bulgaria was once home to some of the most interesting and, in their bright green and red livery, attractive steam locomotives in Europe. When the country gained its independence from Ottoman Turkey in 1878, there were just a few isolated railways in Bulgaria, but ten years later the state decided on a programme of railway construction to create a national network to be operated by the BDZ. Though Bulgaria was a poor and mountainous country and progress was slow, the BDZ built well-engineered railways and ran large modern locomotives over them. The BDZ was an early exponent of compounding, of eight and ten-coupled locos and in the early 20th century was to order unique heavy twelve-coupled tank engines. Not for nothing were the Bulgarians known as the engineers of the Balkans.
One reason the Bulgarian rail network developed so slowly was that the 1888 railway construction programme covered only standard gauge railways. Despite the apparent attractions of the narrow gauge to a country such as Bulgaria, it steadfastly ignored them until 1913. In that year it acquired large parts of Macedonia as its reward for its participation in the Second Balkan War. To save both time and money, a long 600mm gauge line was opened to connect the new territories with the capital, Sofia. As the Bulgarians were great admirers of German technology, this railway was built entirely using the field railway equipment of the German Heeresfeldbahn. Similar lines followed and by the end of the Great War, the BDZ was operating approximately 370km of 600mm gauge track, powered almost exclusively by Brigadelok 0-8-0Ts - German locos on a German gauge.
Having lost their narrow gauge virginity, the Bulgarians began planning other sub-standard gauge lines. Taking advantage of their position of the occupiers of eastern Serbia in the Great War, the Bulgarians lifted a complete 760mm gauge railway there, removed all the equipment to Bulgaria and re-laid it to form the basis of the Cerven Brjag - Orjahovo line (finally opened throughout in 1930 - remember the country was poor). This explains how the very Austro-Hungarian gauge of 760mm, and not the German one of 750mm, came to be found in this very Germany-oriented country. The success of the line to Orjahovo led the Bulgarians to plan yet more 760mm gauge railways, but the only one completed (over a period of 24 years) was the 141km long line from Septemvri into the Rhodopen mountains, which with its steeply-graded horseshoes and spirals is one the most spectacular narrow gauge railways in Europe. To work these two lines the BDZ introduced but three types of locos: ten 0-6-2Ts, six 0-10-0Ts and 15 2-10-2Ts.
Thus compared with many other Central European countries the story of the Bulgarian narrow gauge and its motive power is relatively clear-cut; indeed, the presence of just four or five types of locomotive is positively spartan. It is nonetheless a very interesting story and one which has previously never been told. That gap has now been filled by an excellent little monograph in German by the Dutch narrow gauge railway enthusiast, Paul Engelbert. Schmalspurig durch Bulgarien (Narrow Gauge Railways in Bulgaria) deals exclusively with the BDZ narrow gauge lines only (industrial systems are ignored). The history of both the 600mm and 760mm gauge systems is well and comprehensively told (there's probably little more to say on them), as is that of the locomotives (both steam and diesel) and rolling stock which worked over them. Detailed locomotive lists are provided. Printed on high quality art paper, the book is fully illustrated with a wide variety of both black & white and colour photos (though some of the latter have reproduced poorly). Even with little or no knowledge of German, readers should be able to garner a great deal of information from it.
The book's arrival is timely. The last BDZ 600mm gauge branch was closed in 1969 and the week Schmalspurig durch Bulgarien was published came the sad news of the closure of the Cerven Brjag - Orjahovo railway. This leaves the Septemvri line as the only narrow gauge railway in Bulgaria. Those who have visited it will know it as one of the great train rides in Europe; if you haven't been yet, then I can only recommend a visit - a great pleasure lies in store for you. But take a copy of Schmalspurig durch Bulgarien with you and enjoy your trip even more. Schmalspurig durch Bulgarien admirably fills a gap in railway history and is highly recommended to anyone interested in narrow gauge railways.
Schmalspurig durch Bulgarien
There are some countries which for one reason or another have attracted less attention from railway enthusiasts than others. One such is Romania. There are a few books in German on its forestry railways, but apart from Chris Halliwells 1970(!) listing of CFR locomotives, as far as I am aware there has not been one single volume devoted to the state railways of Romania published in the West in the last 30 or 40 years.
This is most undeserved. Romania has a fascinating railway history and, despite its early predilection for standardisation, the CFR had a rich variety of steam motive power on its books, ranging from some absolutely charming narrow gauge 0-6-0s of Hungarian origin to the magnificent standard gauge 2-8-4s and 2-10-2s of the 1930s. These were kept in supershine condition and worked through some of the most magnificent scenery in Europe. Happy indeed was the steam photographer in Romania in the 1960s before, a decade later, the police of the odious and unlamented Ceauçescu regime made photography so difficult and dieselisation made it unnecessary.
So Chris Baileys "The Railways of Romania" is to be welcomed. In eight chapters the author outlines the history of Romanias railways and surveys locomotive development. Given Romanias complicated political history, an introductory chapter is devoted to the history of Romania and its physical growth in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. There is also a section on industrial railways, but this is perhaps not as helpful as it might have been as it limits itself solely to those few lines which have been much visited by tour parties in recent years. The final chapters of the book look at modern traction and the preservation scene.
As the author freely admits, this is a very general introduction to what is a very complex subject so do not expect any detailed discussion of locomotive history or lists (these at least you can find in Halliwell if you can ever get hold of a copy). But within these confines Chris Bailey tells his story well and provides a sound basis for anybody who might be encouraged to dig a bit deeper. A great strength of the book is the very good and comprehensive selection of photographs illustrating the text. These are nicely printed and reveal the richness of Romanias railway heritage. There is a colour section, which, though this is not always made clear, depends almost entirely on photos of preserved locomotives and special workings. (In this "The Railways of Romania" is not alone and I am always left wondering why, when there is so much good colour material of steam in regular service, publishers tend to rely so much on shots of preserved steam.)
I noticed some small errors in "The Railways of Romania" and once again Im afraid it has to be said that this is a book that would have benefited from a little more attention to proofreading and sub-editing. But all in all "The Railways of Romania" is a nicely produced work and can be warmly recommended to anybody wanting a general history of Romanias railways and locomotives.
"The Railways of Romania", by Chris Bailey
Published and available from:
Locomotives International, Paul Catchpole Ltd, The Haven, Trevilley Lane, St. TEATH, PL30 3JS, Great Britain. http://www.locomotivesinternational.co.uk
"Famous Last Lines 3" (FLL 3) should really need no introduction. It continues the formula established with the first volume in the series, published as long ago as 1993: a detailed photographic look at five specific railway lines each of which for some reason or another attracted the attentions of steam photographers in the last three decades of steam traction. It is sad to reflect that nearly every shot in all three books is now history and unrepeatable (pace the claims of those who say that preservation can recreate steam "just the way it was" it cant). FLL 3 looks in turn at the Rio Turbio line in southern Argentina, routes out of Saalfeld and Kimberley, the South Maitland Railway in Australia and at steams last stand over the Jing Peng pass in northern China.
The latter has inevitably received a disproportionate amount of coverage over the last few years and even for somebody (like me) who has never braved the sub-zero temperatures or the massed ranks of photographers at Jing Peng, there is already a strong sense of déjà vu. However, I was pleasantly surprised to see that by and large the photographers whose work is represented in this section have adopted a more creative approach and achieved something which rises above the ordinary. Three stunning shots of the curving viaduct at Xiakengzi almost alone make the book worth buying and demonstrate that there is more to steam locomotive photography than sun over the shoulder and a telephoto lens. This is one of the few books I have seen where good and imaginative use has been made of the wide-angle lens, an item of photographic equipment not normally associated with railway photography.
Unfortunately the other four parts of the book are not quite so good. The sections on Kimberley and Saalfeld disappoint, whilst those devoted to Patagonia and Australia are a mixed bag, some very good stuff indeed mixed up with photos best forgotten. In particular there are a number of silhouette shots which simply do not work, though this in some instances may be due to reproduction darker than the original slide.
Frankly I found FLL 3 the least satisfying of the three volumes in this series. But that is to judge it by the standards and expectations raised by the authors in their earlier work, for it should be stated quite unequivocally that, despite its parochialism (too much Australia) and self-regard (too many photos of the authors), taken overall the "Famous Last Lines" series has been an exceptionally good one. Though FLL 3 is not the best, it is still a good photographic album, better than most that will be published this year, and comes recommended.
"Famous Last Lines 3"
Compiled by George Bambery
ISBN 0 9577324 1 4
"Heeresfeldbahnen der Kaiserzeit", by Rüdiger Fach and Günter Krall
"Eisenbahnen zwischen Ostfront und Atlantikwall", by Andreas Knipping and Reinhard Schulz
Several years ago I reviewed here a pair of German books on the topic of railways and the Second World War. In a reprise, two very interesting large format photo albums have recently been published in Germany, one on the Great War and one on Hitler's.
To take them in chronological order. "Heeeresfeldbahnen der Kaiserzeit" by Rüdiger Fach and Günter Krall is a lavishly illustrated work devoted entirely to the 600mm gauge field railways of the Imperial German army. As early as the late 1830s strategists in Germany, or better said Prussia, had interested themselves in the possibilities of using the newfangled railways for belligerent purposes, but it was only with the American Civil War of the 1860s and the 1870-71 Franco-Prussian War that the true value of railways to the military machine (above all the ability to transport large numbers of men and material rapidly to the battlefront) came to be universally accepted. About the same time Paul Decauville was developing his system of light field railways and, with encouragement from the Frenchman, the potential of temporary narrow gauge railways to supply the frontlines also came to be appreciated. During the 1870s and 1880s, most of the Continental powers formed railway battalions and began experimenting with various forms of field railways and rolling stock, with the first steam locos appearing in the late 1880s.
Yet whilst the British, who paradoxically had perhaps been the first to employ a field railway in a war (a standard gauge line in the Crimea), displayed little interest in them, the French and particularly the Germans did. The concept of the narrow gauge military field railway was taken furthest by the Prussians, who had a well-developed system of training facilities and programmes and the requisite industrial base to supply locomotives and rolling stock. Here, two types of locomotive stand out, the "Zwillinge" back-to-back 0-6-0Ts and famous "Brigadelok" 0-8-0Ts, but as the book shows, the German field railways experimented with and developed other types of steam locos, such as a series of 0-6-0Ts and 0-10-0Ts, as well as numerous i/c locomotives.
In six main sections (rolling stock, training grounds & fortress railways, construction & operations, training railways, German South-West Africa and operations at the front), "Heeeresfeldbahnen der Kaiserzeit" comprehensively covers most aspects of the German field railways down to the collapse of the German empire in 1918. The format chosen is that of a photo album. Captions are sometimes quite detailed and each section (and sometimes sub-section) is introduced with a short, but very informative and authoritative text. At times I was left with the wish for a longer and much more detailed text. But this is now a very fashionable way of laying out books and presenting material and, whilst personally I might lament this trend, it has to be admitted it is done superbly well here. The approximately 450 photographs, which are beautifully reproduced, are a well-chosen mixture of posed official views, photos of men working on the field railways obviously taken as mementoes or to send back to loved ones at home, and amateur shots. Perhaps inevitably scenes of the front during the Great War are of the greatest interest, but throughout the book there is much to fascinate, whether you are a modeller, interested in military history or a steam engine buff. A knowledge of German is not really necessary as the pictures speak very much for themselves. The book, which reminded me very much of Keith Taylorson's books on the British WD light railways in the First World War, is highly recommended.
Andreas Knipping and Reinhard Schulz's book, "Eisenbahnen zwischen Ostfront und Atlantikwall" deals with the Second World War. It complements and repeats the very successful formula of their "Reichsbahn hinter der Ostfront" previously reviewed here: excellently reproduced photographs taken by professional photographers for, let us be frank, propaganda purposes from the collection of Reinhard Schulz.
In contrast to "Heeresfeldbahnen der Kaiserzeit", which concentrates almost exclusively on the 600mm gauge German field railways, "Eisenbahnen zwischen Ostfront und Atlantikwall" features mostly standard gauge locomotives and spreads its net far wider. It looks, albeit very much from a German point of view, at how the Nazi war machine engulfed the railways of Europe from the Atlantic coast to the Caucasus and put them to its own nefarious uses. As well as the inevitable photos of ex Prussian locos and Kriegslok class 52's in service on the eastern front, it includes photographs from the Baltic States, France, Spain, Italy, Poland, Austria, Czechoslovakia, the USSR and so on (though regrettably nothing of the war in the Balkans). A considerable portion of the book consists of non-locomotive photographs, ranging from a stunning sequence of shots showing a burning train of oil tankers and railwaymen bravely uncoupling loaded tank wagons from those ablaze (this its photojournalism of the highest order) to a photo essay on the many ways in which women replaced men on railway work during the war (the ladies portrayed tend, curiously enough, to be blonde, buxom and beautiful).
"Eisenbahnen zwischen Ostfront und Atlantikwall" is well worth buying for its photos alone. However to get the most out of it, some knowledge of German is necessary: partly to understand the highly detailed photo captions, but above all to appreciate the Andreas Knipping's essays interspersed among the pictures. As already observed in "Reichsbahn hinter der Ostfront", Knipping writes very well, with sensitivity and intelligence, and doing those things all historians should do: making connections and answering the question why.
Both books are unequivocally recommended and "must-buys" for anybody interested in railways and war.
"Heeresfeldbahnen der Kaiserzeit", by Rüdiger Fach and Günter Krall
Verlag Kenning, Borkener Hof 1, D-48527 Nordhorn, Germany
"Eisenbahnen zwischen Ostfront und Atlantikwall" by Andreas Knipping and Reinhard Schulz
Transpress Verlag, Postfach 10 37 43, D-70032 Stuttgart, Germany
This book is the second book by Hans de Herder about industrial locomotives in the Netherlands. Seven years ago he wrote a book about the s.g. industrial locos and now this book lists 982 known n.g. steam locomotives in industrial service.
The book is mainly based on the records of the Dutch boiler inspectorate. Additional information came from various sources: works lists, private notes of many other persons and company records. One can enter the system by loco builder and owner. To simplify cross-reference the author has given each engine a number. Every loco builder is represented by a separate heading/chapter. Many maps (lay-outs of brick works and big contracts which lasted several years) are included. In each case that a locomotive could be traced in the inspectorate's archives a chronoligical history is given.
The small summaries in English and German really are too small. The author should at least have added a glossary of the key words, like scrapped in ..., boiler certificate, transferred to ... etc, etc. One page for both the English and the German languages would have done the trick. Now the dedicated enthusiast is forced to investigate time to figure out those Dutch words. However, a lot of the information is "technical" and quite readable for someone used to read lists and historical information. Having said this, I admire this fine piece of work of Hans de Herder. For the first time there is an almost complete list of all those dozens of small industrial engines running in the Netherlands. A list which is reliable and a source for further study. The standard of reproduction of the photographs and drawings is good. Many of those pictures were unknown in the Netherlands, even to the most serious Dutch enthousiast.
This book I can recommend. If you are interested, don't wait too long. Bear in mind that this is not the type of book ever to be reprinted. At considerable financial risk the publisher printed a limited number of copies.
Nederlandse Industrielocomotieven; survey of the n.g. steam locomotives in the Netherlands used by industry, contractors and loco hiring firms. Author: Hans de Herder. Written in Dutch throughout.
Format: A4. Glossy paper. 168 pages. Price: 25 Euro.
Published by Uitgeverij Uquilar, PO Box 153, 5201 AD 's-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jan de Bruin
Prior to the introduction of the Mallet and the Garratt, one of the more successful answers to the locomotive engineer's perennial problem of getting powerful (and hence large) locomotives around sharply curved (and often lightly laid) track was the Fairlie locomotive. This was a double-boilered affair on bogies with a single centrally located cab and firebox.
Though never built in vast quantities, though production of the type was confined mainly to the last three decades of the nineteenth century and despite the fact that nearly all of them operated on "foreign railways", the Fairlie has always, in Britain at least, attracted more than its fair share of attention. This may in large be due to the fact that a pair have survived on the Festiniog Railway in North Wales (which has succeeded in some criminal butchering of these historically important locomotives, plus erecting an aesthetically disastorous new version). That contemporaries paid so much attention to the newfangled Fairlie type can be attributed in no small degree to the vigorous self-promotion of its Scottish designer, Robert Fairlie, a man to whom the word modesty was an alien concept. Hype is by no means a modern phenomenon.
Somewhat surprisingly, there has been no book on the Fairlie locomotive since RAS Abbott's of 1970 and long out of print. This has now been rectified by the appearance of Donald Binn's "Fairlie Articulated Locomotives", the latest addition to a number of knowledgable tomes he has written and published over the years on various articulated locomotives. The present work is divided into two volumes, this, the first, being devoted to the Fairlies which were operated in the Americas. Vol 2 (the "Rest of the World") is expected to appear in 2003.
The book opens with a brief survey of the progenitors of the Fairlie loco. It would seem that as with so many other products bearing the inventor's name, Robert Fairlie did not actually invent the type - his patent being a distillation of earlier "Fairlies". From here we proceed to a detailed survey of the different Fairlies used on the American continent. As appropriate, these 12 chapters deal with the subject either on the basis of individual countries (ie Canada with its 6 (or 8) Fairlies) or individual railways (eg the nitrate lines in Peru and Chile). Five chapters and almost 50% of the book are devoted to the largest and most significant operator of Fairlies in the Americas, the FC Mexicano. This had an extremely difficult mountain section to operate on its main line from the port of Vera Cruz to the capital, Mexico City, 2223 metres above sea-level. This necessitated a climb of nearly 100km, parts of which were on grades of as stiff as 1 in 25 on uncompensated curves. The book includes a number of photographs of this section, showing splendid scenes of double-headed Fairlie hauled trains blasting up mountain sides. This must have been one of the great steam experiences. Sadly (but not unsurprisingly), the line was electrified in 1924.
In the 30 years or so since the publication of Abbott's book, much new information on Fairlies has come to light and this has been incorporated into "Fairlie Articulated Locomotives". It would appear that over the years a good deal of inaccurate information (much of it originating from the pen of Fairlie himself) has been published on this articulated type and Donald Binns takes this opportunity of making corrections wherever possible. The book is packed with information and contains some fascinating detail, as well as a wonderful selection of photographs, many of which show Fairlies in service. Author Donald Binns (and Chris Walker) are to be commended for their efforts gathering these together (no doubt over many years) and now making them available to the rest of us. Though the book would have benefitted from more careful proofreading, it is a fascinating read and is likely to remain the standard work on these curious articulateds for many years to come. Recommended.
by Donald Binns
Elements of Locomotive Development in Russia and the USSR
by Keith Chester
This is what Chris Walker had to say about the book:
"This is the long awaited second volume on Russian steam from Keith Chester who contributes two of the four main chapters with the rest written by Anthony J Heywood, Sergei Volkov and Aleksandr Kolesov.
The first volume [which go out of print soon] covered the development in detail of three of the most important standard locomotive classes produced in great numbers by the USSR. In contrast this volume deals with an extraordinarily diverse range of Russian and Soviet locomotives that are a part of their steam locomotive development, albeit it not always positively. I cannot recall a book devoted to one country with so many different types of locomotive.
Russian locomotive design and construction only took off in the last quarter of the nineteenth century when imports were constrained, and they were the pioneers of the locomotive testing plant in 1882. There followed thereafter to the end of steam, an era of locomotive design led from a theoretical and scientific perspective by an elite well removed from practical experience and operating realities.
The book deals with the consequences of this ongoing mismatch in four separate parts illuminating different aspects. This divide between theory and practice was coupled to political expediency of a high order, and resulted not only in continuous experimentation and evolution, which yielded both real progress and inefficient mediocrity, but also produced some seriously exotic designs that never performed properly.
The first chapter outlines the era of the most notable Russian engineer, Lomonosov, who evolved controlled scientific road testing up to the 1920s with much attention given to improving existing designs by providing a qualitative appraisal of their performance. There are a number of illustrations of his work with locomotives under test with observation shelters and large trains. He also managed the mass procurement of the classic freight design the "E" 0-10-0, but is perhaps best known for two pioneer main line diesel locomotives in 1924-5 which placed the USSR at the forefront of diesel design. It is ironic to compare this stage of his life with the remainder from 1927 as an exile, where he was largely limited to writing his memoirs.
Chapter 2 is devoted to the locomotives of the Vladikavkazskaya Railway serving the Caucasus, one of the most innovative in its motive power policy with steep ruling grades. A Pole, Lopuszynski was the prime mover in a career that lasted over 50 years. Their locomotives are dealt with in a logical fashion, illustrated class by class, to provide the most detailed appraisal of a Russian railway. Six and eight coupled freight classes show continuous development and culminated in 2-8-0s that lasted well into the Soviet era. The final freight design was the "E" 0-10-0 of 1912 which was to be in production for another 40 years, a prospect that cannot have been conceived by this progressive railway. Tank and passenger engines get similar treatment and I was intrigued by the 4 cylinder pacifics then of class "L", that was their last pre revolutionary design.
The Kolomna works is covered fairly simply in a short chapter 3. It was probably the best-known locomotive builder in Russia, producing a wide range of locos, and contributed to most of the important locomotive designs, being a pioneer in developments such as superheating, brotan boilers, and compounding. Early output is illustrated including Mallets and Fairlies, and construction reached 10,000 in 1953 with an "L" class 2-10-0.
The final chapter deals with the most radical motive power responses to ambitious central plans to upgrade capacity through greater power and speed, where the separation of railways from manufacturing and repair provided some stressful situations where no ideas seem to have been ignored whether they were practical or not.
Heavy conventional US-built 2-10-2 and 2-10-4 "samples" were ordered in the early 1930s with an intention to reproduce in large numbers, but their axle load far exceeded reality. This was followed by the unique 4-14-4 of 1934, which is given a detailed appraisal, where potential merits were lost in it being far too big for the railway infrastructure although its individual axle load was theoretically acceptable. An imported Garratt of 1932 was also lost in a wall of prejudice, and condensing locomotives were produced in quantity but not properly utilised.
Past failures of steam-diesel hybrid technology in the 1920s did not dissuade the Soviets from embarking in the 1930s on their own programme with freight and passenger imperfect prototypes that staggered on through official endorsement until after the war. Streamlined 4-6-4s were a more rational diversion although never used to their potential.
This chapter continues with the flourishing of post 1945 standard designs in large numbers which fortunately for the operating staff, offered much more realistic performance, but finished in a final fling of exoticism with the opposed piston 2-10-4, and enormous mallets which saw little service. There are many other diverse experiments covered in this chapter.
As a postscript, the influential role of one theoretician in boiler efficiency proposals that did not work is described as the "ivory tower of academia": a summing up of the history of Russian locomotive development. Without it life might have been much duller!
This book is crammed with information and unlike volume one; footnotes have a less prominent role in the flow of the narrative. There are many unpublished photographs, diagrams, and some maps that are well produced. It was a surprise to realise that it is only 78 glossy pages, which is a reflection of the usual concentrated layout of Trackside Publications.
The editor and author is an acknowledged expert in Eastern Europe and he has collaborated with others who also have an insight. There is little in the English language that covers these subjects and this book is highly recommended for any student of locomotive history. Like volume one, the print run is limited and it is likely to sell out, so a purchase should not be delayed."
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Austrian locomotives have always had a "discreet charm" that is hard to put into words. Whether by Rihosek or Gölsdorf, they had a highly-individual external aesthetic based on plump, dumpy grandmotherly low-slung boilers and bulbous smoke-arresters, or a graceful but gawky high-stepping coltishness. Many writers say that a locomotive's aesthetics are dominated by its chimney; This reviewer considers the cab to be much more important and influential. The Prussian standard designs are purposeful and wide-eyed, the Saxon cab with one divided window looks like a face with the eyes too close together, the Deutsche Reichsbahn standard classes have two side-windows which are almost, but not entirely identical in size; this gives them an earnest expression, an openness, a straining to fulfiil; the Austrian cab windows, in contrast, in different sizes, create an expression of awed amazement.
Add to this those strange and uniquely Austro-Hungarian cab sides, some of which are wide at the bottom half but curve graciously to become narrow at the upper half, often matching similar tenders, and the way that some bits of the motion are emphasized whereas others are coquettishly concealed, where some bits of frame curve and others are angular and bulky, chimneys slope gracefully whereas cylinder bulge like an obese granny in a pinafore, straight and curved lines are established which don't necessarily match the reality of where the running-board or the cab cut-out run, and one has an overall idea of a locomotive which is definitely feminine but isn't quite sure how much, or how self-confident it might be.
Is this all pure flight of fancy ? Perhaps - but design and aesthetics ARE important, just as much - to the observer, if not to engineer - as are the mechanical performance or the economy of operation. And Austria - however one defines the borders, whether in the Imperial, Republic, Occupied or Post-War periods - is always fascinatingly (to a Britisher) "almost like Germany but not quite". In art, psychology, wine and food and music - it is and it isn't. It is distinctive, unique. There is a softness of line, a Gemütlichkeit. To Germans this is often exceedingly irritating - they also feel a bit at a loss to explain how it is that these neighbours in the "Eastern Empire" (Osten Reich - they later referred to it as the "Ost Mark" after the "reconnection" of 1938) are somehow so different. The same language - but different, with different accent, different stress, different musical tone. Perhaps the nearest one can come to explaining this to a British reader is to consider the differences between England and America - one hesitates to suggest between England and Scotland - or maybe even, since we are speaking of geographical neighbours, between America and Canada. Much is shared, much is revealingly and tantalisingly different.
This lengthy introduction is only to explain how it is that one can recognise an Austrian locomotive immediately, whatever has happened to it since. And one is often left wondering how it is that so much effort so clearly went into the overall lines, and smoothness of surface, and yet so much gadgetry remains poking out from behind the veil. High-stepping passenger tank locos or stubby shunters or elegant express engines (elegant but not beautiful - this is the whole point of attempting a definition) - all are quintessentially of a different culture. These engines, to British eyes, were often bizarre, with square-cutaway cabs, a boiler that seems to be always straining forward, pipes and "gubbins" all over - and yet somehow they managed to be beautiful and ugly AT THE SAME TIME. For Slezak, they were beauties pure and simple.......
But they worked, and were successful, in a variety of difficult terrains. And this is the evidence that Austrian locomotive design and construction came in no way second to that of other countries more noted for their industrial production.
This book is another in Slezak's series on Austrian railway history - one often feels there would be no published Austrian railway history were it not for his efforts. It is a composite work, with reproductions of contemporary accounts and photos from a range of sources, some brilliant works photos, some amateur snapshots (and captioned as such). In addition the author has submitted a series of water-colours of these locos in their prime, sometimes in imaginary locations. For non-German readers there is a brief English summary at the rear (page 94.) Despite the title the book incorporates the predecessor 4-cylinder saturated steam-dried 210 Class of 1908, of which only eleven were built, before moving on to the superheated 310 Class of 1911 (100 built, the last ten in the 310.3 sub-class), and even a model of a proposed improved 410 version of 1920, never built (p.75).
All the illustrations are fascinating, and all summon up a bygone world of international Luxury Trains (e.g. pp. 40, 43, 56, 57, 60 - the editor often notes specific types of carriage, and cannot refrain from caustic remarks about the loss of general parcels traffic on modern railways!), "Long-Distance Stoppers" that took almost 9½ hours from Wien to Salzburg (p.54) and international trains made up of Bavarian coaches (p. 44-45) .......
As is often the case with European railway history, the changes are confusing to one brought up on a more "rational" diet of three distinct British periods, the "pre-grouping, post-grouping and nationalisation" eras. Place-names and borders have changed, railways changed identities several times, submitted to different administrations (not always voluntarily), suffered organised robbery and organised restitution....... p. 71 has a 1920 photo of one of the engines that went to Poland - the caption notes the station at Lvov (Lemberg) was built by the Prussians, used here by the Poles, and is now in Ukraine... Several photos show "blackout" precautions, modified lamps etc. and locos in wartime service, or renumbered by the Reichsbahn in the "16" Series. On. p.78 we learn that two of the 210's were captured by the Russians as early as 1914, regauged to 5 feet and displayed in St. Petersburg, one possibly even being reserved for preservation in the 1920's before being scrapped in unknown circumstances..... From the photo captions and the accompanying notes one can learn how the last batch of these dainty 2-6-4's (the 310.3's) were built in 1918 for a railway that no longer needed them by the time they were finished, and with special Brotan boilers to compensate for the lack of copper for fireboxes; so they were sold straight from the factory, most to Prussia (which had just had to give up a large number of modern express locomotives under the Versailles Treaty rules) and some to Poland. So some typically Austrian locos worked for a while as Prussian Class S11 from Berlin (a photo on p.70 shows one as "1304 Berlin" at Berlin Grunewald) before being shuffled off to Silesia, from where the Deutche Reichsbahn during World War 2 brought them back to Vienna ! Post-war, the CSD handed over some derelict examples back to Austria (p.67), which promptly scrapped them, whereas the Soviet Administration compelled the return to Poland (to which Silesia now of course belonged) of several workable examples, one of which had been prepared for preservation. But one assumes the accountants at least were happy !
The text from early engineering publications (pp. 11-16, 81-93) is complex technical German with many tables, drawings and calculations which would demonstrate to the knowledgeable the technical genius behind the choice of this 2-6-4 wheel arrangement (a Krauss-Helmholz bogie linked the pony truck and first coupled axle, drive was on the middle axle, the trailing bogie was for carrying purposes only and trailed its own linkage, but served to allow a larger firebox for the poor-quality coal available than an equivalent 4-6-2 arrangement would have done.) At a 50% increase in weight over the Series 6 4-4-0 these engine provided a 100% increase in power. The term "Adriatic" was coined for it - a compliment to Austria whose main port, Trieste, lay on that sea - but somehow this name has never caught on so much as "Pacific" or "Atlantic". (No sluggish, incompetent engine was ever named after the Sargasso Sea !). The special series of distinctive tenders designed for these locos, with their non-flush sides, are included, as are contemporary 1920's accounts of operations. (Photos of the tenders are included in pp. 76-79 and drawings later - each tender was numbered, the captions often indicate the tender as well as the loco number and on p.51 indicate the pride in which one driver was able to get the "matching" numbers for "his" engine.
Initial operation was complicated by the fact that the 14.6m turntable at Wien West could not take both engine and tender until rebuilt to 20m in 1923, so that engine and tender were often uncoupled for turning ! - something that amazed this reviewer, though of course the early LNER Pacifics were also unable to be turned at Kings Cross at first. Photos of the operations involved are on pp. 38 and 40.
Nicely, a couple of photos (p.32) show Gölsdorf himself at work, and his grave, and there are some colour shots of the preserved 310.23 in action. (310.15 is also preserved in Prague as CSD 375.007.)
This book has clearly been put together by an author and publisher in love with their subject, and using photos from the handful of close friends (one of them appears in person) who between them have provided the majority of early photographs of Austrian railway operation. This reviewer was left with some questions concerning the oil-firing (or partial-firing ?) referred to obliquely in some descriptions of tenders, and the book itself is clear that much remains still to be discovered about these engines - especially in "difficult" times and places; nevertheless, one may classify this as a "definitive" history of some very distinctive - and typically Austrian ! - high-wheeling passenger express locos. Recommended.
Rabbi Walter Rothschild. Berlin.
"Gölsdorfs Glanzstück, die 310er", by Hans Peter Pawlik
The Introduction to this book defines what is possible and what is not in tracing the complex history of locomotives and rolling stock that found themselves forcibly transferred to other countries during the period surrounding the Second World War. As Slezak himself points out - and he is one of the dwindling number of the generation that were actually eye-witnesses of this period, and were able to make their own personal notes and (incredibly) take their own photographs - this time period is chosen because 1938 saw the annexation of Austria by Germany, and 1955 saw the approximate end of the period of repatriation of rusting items of derelict motive power between the post-war railway administrations. (This is not to say that everything was returned, and new discoveries are still being made of former German stock in Poland and Russia ! Still, one has to set the time boundaries somehow.)
The very title is also a deliberate compromise. There is no direct English translation for the German term "Schicksal" (Fate ? Destiny ?), and the term "Displaced" was itself originally used to mean People, not Machines. Slezak correctly makes clear the moral ambivalence of this title from the outset. And yet - what other term could one use ? Even for locomotives that found themselves during their careers in three or more countries whilst working from the same depots ? A Luxemburg metre-gauge tram loco (p.89) suddenly finding itself with a DR number is just as "displaced" in a way as if it had been transported to Lithuania. Then there is the issue of the short-lived railways of the puppet-states of Slovakia (p. 132f.) and Croatia (p.80), or post-war locomotives and wagons built for use in war-ravaged Europe - technically not 'displaced' but 'built for export'. But it would be churlish to deny these engines a place, for they were also a part of the post-war European railway scene (e.g. USATC S160 2-8-0's in Greece, p.70, in Austria p. 114, in Poland on p. 126, in Leningrad p. 139, Czechoslovakia p. 145, Turkey p. 148, Hungary p. 149; the USATC 0-6-0T's on p. 115, wagons on pp. 66, 116 and 156, WD 2-8-0 in the Netherlands on p.91, US narrow-gauge 0-8-0 for Yugoslavia p.83, UNRRA Vulcan 2-8-0's for Yugoslavia (p.82), even the SNCF 141R (p.73).
The book itself is conceived as a continuation of the earlier volume on the "Deutsche Reichsbahn in Austria", (it incorporates at the end several corrections and addenda to this volume) and deliberately avoids repeating much of the statistical and other information which can be found there. The captions are not overloaded, but contrive to present as much information as can be condensed into such a space, bearing in mind that some of the photographs are of unknown provenance, location and date. The work is a composite, Slezak as a "veteran" who saw these machines at first hand acknowledging the help of the younger, post-war-born Beier whose research has been of necessity at second hand but is nonetheless thorough. English translations of the summaries of the captions have been prepared by Keith Chester. Some of these captions are rather 'minimalist' and an ability to read the German remains helpful.
So much for the introductions. The book itself comprises approx. 316 photographs of varying quality but of astonishing variety and historical interest, arranged approximately in alphabetical order of the country of origin of a particular item, or sometimes the country where it ended up. This can be a little confusing if one is searching a particular topic, but there is no better way that can be considered for such a miscellany of images. For example, the two photographs of "Denmark" show a former DR 50-class 2-10-0 built in Belgium in 1943, given by DB to Belgium in 1950, bought by DSB in 1952, in use in 1958 - and, in contrast, an ancient Czech 0-6-0 of 1891 that had somehow found its way under a DR number to Denmark by 1944 and ended its days as a boiler in the Copenhagen harbour. So both come under "Denmark" rather than Germany, Belgium or Czechoslovakia.
A brief trawl of the photographs reveals that no less than forty-six show the German Class 52 "Kriegslok" in various incarnations, another five the Class 42 Kriegslok, there are three pictures of diesels, six of railcars of various types, forty-four show items of passenger or goods rolling stock, ten of narrow-gauge interest, five show electric locos - of course, these are not easy distinctions to make because of the overlaps; examples are a diesel railcar from Riga in postwar use on the narrow-gauge in East Germany, or a DR standard gauge wagons with Swiss SBB markings on a narrow-gauge transporter wagon (p. 130)....
One is left with a variety of thoughts. How on earth did an obscure little 4-coupled or 6-coupled tank loco make its way across half a continent? Was it pulling something or was it pulled ? What did the driver and fireman make of such an ancient piece of machinery as an outside-framed French 0-6-0, or a 130B 2-6-0 as they drove it across Poland ? (Both p. 68) For British readers, the fate of the GWR 'Dean Goods' that found themselves in Wien-Hütteldorf after service across Eastern Europe has been covered before, but is given fully on p.71. The 'Medloc' trains and the solitary SR goods wagon that remained in Austria are shown on pp. 74-75.
And there is the phrase that repeats itself in various forms: "At war's end the locomotive found itself at...." One is left wondering who last dropped the fire, and under what conditions; one is left marvelling at the sheer variety, perhaps due to not only to systematic taking of booty but also to the last-minute panic to use anything and everything that could move to pull one final train westwards away from the advancing Russians...... How did Austrian coaches end up in Belgium (p.14), a Russian wagon in Augsburg (p.140) ? Some locos were left half demolished, some intact in depots, some stored in long lines on minor tracks. Some came back bearing markings of several administrations. Some never came back.......
This book is a miscellany, but none the worse for that. Subjects range from a German rail-mounted gun in action in 1940 to rusting Austrian locos taken by the Soviets to Hungary, then Rumania, then Albania, whose standard gauge railway was not even built until 1947! The photographs have been chosen for historical interest rather than technical perfection, and for this reviewer, used to the mix of contemporary photos from the 1940's, this decision is more than justified.
The attraction of this book lies partly in the detail. Slezak noted when and what he saw, down to minutiae of different numbering schemes for Soviet "Trophy" locos and the crossed-out numbers that signified a sudden change of ownership, as well as more visible changes to smokebox doors. He clearly collected any reference to former Austrian or German locos in obscure Soviet publciations, made several photographic journeys under the auspices of the "Austrian - Soviet Friendship Club" that enabled he and friends to see remarkable and unexpected survivors still in service, and in general got to places and noted things that no-one else would have. And this is the value of the publication, for unless these things are recorded now, they will be gone for ever. Obscure symbols of triangles and circles on old van bodies (p.127) indicated their countries of origin or operation; the complex nature of post-war Austrian politics is explained, with the different Zones and numbering systems and the very, very American style of lettering applied to 'their' locos contrasted with the Cyrillic symbols on 'their' locos - these are things of detail yet they illuminate much wider matters of politics and treaties, of booty and hirings and agreements........ What is one to make of a Hungarian number-plate with the word "Royal" chiselled off by an anti-Monarchist ? (p. 150); That a stationary boiler from a 16-Class 2-6-4 which had come from a Polish loco was forcibly removed back to Poland by the Russians in 1948, and had to be replaced by an identical one from an Austrian loco of the same class ! (p. 93); That the DR used wagons with centre-couplers intended for China but undeliverable in 1941 following Japanese invasion, (p.66) was unknown to this reviewer; Or that Skoda built six Pacifics for Lithuania in 1939 - but by the time they were complete Lithuania had been conquered and regauged to 5', so that these engines worked in Czechsolvakia under their Lithuanian numbers ! (p.88, 103). And note the difference between "Ostbf." and "Ostbhf." ! Austrian and German remain to some extent separate languages.
There is clearly a need at some point for yet another book, which would detail the way the various items were eventually transferred back to their original railways (where these still existed) or to their post-war successors. Does anyone have photos of old French locos being dragged westwards through Germany, of Austrian locos being worked or hauled back from Poland (and vice versa) ?
By 1945 it was clear that nothing would ever be the same again, and by 1955 it was even clearer that Europe would remain divided. This book shows invaluably a small portion of the effects that the political upheavals had on railway systems and their equipment. One is left wishing for more.
Rabbi Walter Rothschild. Berlin.
Published by Slezak, Wiedner Hauptstrasse 42, A-1040
Wien, 2001. ISBN
Amongst steam enthusiasts, Zimbabwe has a special place in the pantheon: in the late 1970s and early 1980s it undertook an extensive refurbishment of its remaining Garratts, effectively prolonging the life of main line steam in that country until its abrupt end in 1993. With its fleet of modernised Garratts, Zimbabwe was the last country in Africa using this type, so synonymous with the continent, in any numbers and became a honeypot for aficionados of big articulated motive power working heavy main line trains. The food might have been appalling and the photo spots few, but the action in Zimbabwe was great.
In a little more than five decades steam locomotives in Rhodesia developed from tiny two-foot gauge 4-4-0s, through classic colonial style 4-6-0s and 4-8-0s to a variety of ever-larger Garratts. In truth this was not the boldest or most distinguished school of design, but the locos produced were for the greater part more than adequate for the work they had to perform.
Yet despite their perhaps rather modest claims to distinction, the locomotives of Zimbabwe have been fortunate in attracting the attentions of two renowned locomotive historians. A couple of years ago we reviewed here the late Dusty Durrant's "The Smoke that Thunders", which dealt solely with the steam locos of Rhodesia and Zimbabwe. Now we have a book from the pen of that other doyen of the country's locos, the Rev. E.D. Hamer. Entitled "Locomotives of Zimbabwe and Botswana", this updates and expands upon the author's own "Steam locomotives of Rhodesia Railways" dating from 1983. It is broader in scope than the Durrant book in that it also covers diesel and electric loco development in the country. There is a brief look at developments in Zambia (part of Rhodesia until 1964), as well as a chapter on Botswana. In the case of the latter this is basically a story of diesels, though there is (still) some industrial steam in this young country.
Two major books appearing on the same subject within a few years of each other inevitably will attract comparisons. Both clearly have their strengths and weaknesses. Ted Hamer worked for the NRZ and has an insider's knowledge of the railway. His approach is more of the broad sweep than Dusty Durrant's. Both men have a distinctive way of writing. I found Ted Hamer's rather chatty style a little irritating at first, but came to enjoy it. My gut feeling is that his judgements on the locos he describes are on balance the sounder of the two: in his enthusiasm and love for the steam loco Dusty tended to get a little carried away on occasion. A further plus point of the Hamer book is the chapter devoted to purely industrial railways. Few in number, these were, however, of great interest and are exhaustively treated here, together with some delightful photos.
"Locomotives of Zimbabwe and Botswana" is well printed on high quality art paper. It is illustrated with a wide and well-chosen selection of photos covering all periods of steam and diesel working in Zimbabwe. There is also a section of colour photos, including a number from the 1960s; colour reproduction, however, is not quite up to the high standards set by the black and white prints. The book concludes with several appendices. These include extremely detailed locomotive lists but also cover such facets as company history and opening dates of all the railways in Zimbabwe. The appendices alone would justify purchase of the book.
Ted Hamer's "Locomotives of Zimbabwe and Botswana" can be unequivocally recommended to anyone interested in African railways and steam locomotives in general. It differs sufficiently in content and style from "The Smoke That Thunders" that even if you already own Dusty Durrant's book, this should not deter you from obtaining a copy of "Locomotives of Zimbabwe and Botswana".
"Locomotives of Zimbabwe and Botswana"
Keith has been sent for review (October 15th 1999) a copy of "Light Railways", the magazine of the "Light Railway Research Society of Australia"; as the society's name suggests, this group is dedicated to the activities of industrial and narrow gauge railways in the Antipodes. He reports:
If the review copy of the magazine is anything to go by, the society's aims are well promoted and presented by "Light Railways". It comprises 32 (A4 sized) pages printed on art quality paper; pictorial reproduction, both black & white and colour, is thus of the highest order. The accompanying articles are both informative and well-researched, featuring a range of lengthy articles and shorter reports devoted to both the historic and contemporary light railway scene in Australia, as well as the preservation movement. This is undoubtedly one of the better railway society magazines I have yet come across and is recommended to any one interested in narrow gauge or industrial railways.
"Light Railways" appears bi-monthly and the current (summer 1999) subscription costs A$ 36 pa (for Australia) and A$ 52 pa (overseas). As well as the six magazines, this entitles members to a 25% reduction on the interesting range of books on similar topics published by the LRRSA. Some of these have already been reviewed on these pages and it is to be hoped that we receive further reviews from "Down Under".
Details of the membership of the LRRSA can be obtained from:
At this juncture, it might be useful to remind people that amongst the vast number of railway magazines published every month, there are increasing numbers of "Specials" devoted to one particular theme, often a specific steam locomotive class. German publishers seem to very good at this, notably "Eisenbahn Kurier" and particularly "Eisenbahn Journal", whose latest offering, as always beautifully printed and well-researched, is devoted to the lesser known class 42 "Kriegslok".
Why not? Here is Keith's first review (25th March 1999)
"I must confess that generally I have been disappointed by most of the railway websites I have visited: all too often the information they provide is superficial and trivial. There are of course exceptions - youre logged in on one of them now!! - and these are able to give up-to-the-minute news on steams last and latest gasps. If only we had had the Internet in the 1970s!
Very few railway websites, however, do what the web is really good at, i.e. acting as an easily accessible data bank of hard information available for research purposes. But I have just found one and it comes highly recommended, particularly for anyone interested in German locomotives and their history.
This is operated by Jens Merte out of Siegen University in Germany - and unsurprisingly is in German. This should not deter anybody. This website offers nothing less than complete lists of all German locos since 1925, the complete works lists for all German locomotive manufacturers, plus a short potted history of each one in sufficient detail to be of value and interest. One can only admire Herr Mertes industry in transferring all this data into his PC. (See below.RD)
Unlike most websites, sources are given where known. Herr Merte has, like we all do, relied heavily on the Schmeiser lists. These are not without mistakes, but due to the very nature of the web, it is now an easy process to offer corrections. The lists for the numerous smaller manufacturers, many of whom Id never heard of previously, are all on the website. The larger ones are available on a CD-ROM, which, as well as the works lists, also includes the lists of German locos since 1925, 700 pictures, information on various industrial railways in Germany and 300 railway links. The CD-ROM can be purchased from Herr Merte at DM 16 - which seems pretty good value to me.
Whether you have an interest in German locos or not, this is quite simply the best and most useful website I have yet come across and should stand as an example to others. It can only be hoped that other websites will follow in Herr Mertes footsteps and will put up in a similar fashion works lists for British, French, Bergian, Austrian, American, Japanese manufacturers etc etc. Or maybe Jens Merte can be persuaded to extend the range of his invaluable website to cover countries outside of Germany?"
Martin Murray adds:One correction to what Keith says, though. The website does not pretend to offer builders lists; these are available on the CD only, and then, for quite good reasons (impending publications) certain lists are not available (O&K, Henschel, Heilbronn, etc.) http://www.merte.de/eisenbahn.- note this has been changed (28th January 2000)
Currently we have mainly Keith Chester's reviews of our own Image of Rail CD-ROMs. There were too many of Keith's pictures on Tiger Steam so we got Chris Walker to review it. We hope to expand this as other products become available and are submitted. Watch this space.
This product has now been withdrawn for updating (14th November 2009).
This Windows CD-ROM claims to list some 17079 of the estimated 20600 survivors worldwide and is a monumental work. A quick browse through the records soon shows the vast extent of the coverage which is said to include some 130 countries.
Even as a computer professional I have yet to find a database which is intuitive to use and which can get me the information I require quickly and easily. This CD-ROM is, of course, no exception and I have to say that some persistence may be necessary to find particular locomotives, but much of the information included here is not readily available from any other single source including an Internet search.
There are some severe limitations in the edition I have had for review (version 1.2, an upgrade is promised shortly). On my Pentium 150 with 64 Mb of RAM which is now quite long in the tooth, installation took an unacceptably long time and until I removed the pictures on the recommendation of the author, searches took a very long time. To be fair, on my newer Windows 98 computer this was nothing like so noticeable.
The program itself is written using Visual Basic 3 which is a 16 bit program and should really have been updated to the current 32 bit Visual Basic 6 which would greatly speed it up and also ensure that the CD-ROM will run on later generations of computers.
I found the search facilities to be limited in the sense that having once done a search it is impossible to 'home in' by doing a sub search. There is no facility to use 'AND' / "OR' which would greatly improve the power of the program. Hence having searched for a particularly country you cannot look for, say, all the locomotives from a particular builder or wheel arrangement within it.
Similarly, having done a search there is no way to export the data so that you could produce a file of, say, Baldwin locomotives in India which is the kind of use I would like to put a program like this.
Error trapping is insufficient and it is all too easy to give the program indigestion by searching for an inappropriate word and, of course, with so many entries it is inevitable that there are mis-spellings and inconsistencies which may defeat a search.
To summarise, I consider that this edition reflects the fact that more time has necessarily been spent entering the data than actually ensuring that the database is sufficiently user-friendly. A little bit of time improving the front end will convert what is now more suitable for the hard-core number cruncher into a tool which would be really valuable for all students of the steam locomotive.
Available from James D. Hefner, PO Box 12491, Beaumont, TX 77726-2491, USA.
(This review is by RD and not Keith Chester!)