Railway history: companies, locomotives, rolling stock, train working, gazetteer, accidents and more!


This database serves to lay out in a catalogue style, a number of key railway topics, some of which are newly attempted. Included in these lists are the classification and numbering of locomotives through the Grouping and Nationalisation. The time span of 1920 to 1970 takes in the latter days of steam traction but a certain amount of latitude has been allowed to provide extended historical background. British railways include those of mainland U.K., the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.

The contents are sectionalised on an alphabetical basis: abbreviations, accidents, coaches, engineering, and so on. Some sections have sub-files for ease of reference. Fortunately a variety of gazetteers of stations have appeared over the years and the author has been spared the task of validating and repeating such a list.

Of the main themes, Abbreviations has two sections covering those used in the text and of railway companies. You are advised to acquaint yourself with the more common ones used.

Companies includes their location, liveries, grouping and subsequent nationalisation. There follow sections on independent and narrow gauge lines, and light railways.

Coaches deals with their types and follows with sections on their codes, chronology and numbering.

The Gazetteer leads to sections on goods yards, motive power depots, summits, tunnels, bridges and viaducts, and company workshops. The closure proposals contained in the Beeching report of 1963 are also listed together with the relevant outcomes.

Engineering provides a glossary of terms and there are then sections on train working, locomotive builders for industry, signals and signalling (including Clearing House rules), trackwork and inclines. The train working section covers a variety of topics including couplings, push-pull working, route availability, shed facilities, slip coach working and train classification.

Express speeds gives information on speed records and fastest scheduled runs. This leads to a section on named trains.

Locomotives has full numerical lists for the main companies. It also includes sections on steam railcars and tenders of the major companies. Diesel and electric locomotives are listed with the B.R. Standard locomotives.

Personalities includes engineers and architects, followed by lists of locomotive superintendents.

Many a book is published these days with an inadequate or no bibliography. Where did all those facts come from, and more importantly, why is the reader, who may not even recall the golden days of steam, expected to understand so much vintage jargon and technicality? What, when and where? are common responses to many cryptic descriptions found in the current literature. The railways were clearly a prolific breeding-ground for nicknames, classifications and codes.

A brief scan through these files may suggest to the reader that all is too indigestible and lacking the appeal of the current railway pictorial histories and specialised texts. Yet, this database is produced with the sole purpose to guide the railway enthusiast (and modeller) through his/her various researches.

The compiled information has been carefully cross-checked where possible, but the usual disclaimers are offered for the errors of other authors (and their proof-checkers). Some particular references have provided very useful sources of information; this condensed database in no way supplants these valuable works. Omissions or possible errors are flagged thus **.