By the 1950s, for more than a century, steam had ruled supreme on the railways of Britain but even before this there were signs that the awesome locomotives that were an everyday part of life and had their roots in the birth of the industrial revolution would not survive for ever.
In Europe nations were progressing with diesel and electric traction and on our own shores experimentation was carried out even before the birth of the nationalised British Railways Company. Europe had been devastated by the ravages of war and the UK’s rail network, in particular, was now in a very run down state, structurally and in terms of rolling stock and motive power. The Government instigated modernisation plans under the auspices of the British Railways Board that had been set up in 1948 and this lead to the total eradication of steam from the national network in little more than a decade and a half .
The practice of saving significant historical railway artifacts, including locomotives, for the national heritage had long applied and eventually led to the establishment of the National Railway Museum in York. Had it not however been for certain quirks of fate, circumstances could have been very different and we may never have experienced the major renaissance of steam power that has ultimately led to today’s thriving preservation movement.
In this programme we take in the final years of steam as it is was replaced by diesel power. The significance of Dai Woodham’s Barry Island scrap yard, which quite by accident provided large numbers of engines that could be rescued and restored to running order, is discussed along with that of the famous Beeching plan, which actually provided the mainstay of our current wealth of preserved lines.
Like a phoenix from the ashes the rise of steam is followed to culminate in the rich wealth of railway history that we can now all enjoy, right the way across the country, and that acts as a major part of the tourist scene in Britain.
THIS DVD WAS PREVIOUSLY RELEASED AS
THE FALL & RISE OF BRITISH RAILWAYS STEAM