Decline and Return to Mainline Steam
Special Trains in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s
- Laurie Golden
15th August 2024
During the 1960s, British Railways withdrew its thousands of steam locomotives from the national network. The process started gradually at the start of the 1960s but accelerated towards the end of the decade so that by 1968 the last steam-operated trains had ceased. The decade also saw a wave of line closures in an effort to make the railways more economical to run. However, railtours in the 1960s allowed enthusiasts what was often a final chance to enjoy special steam-operated workings, many over lines that were to close later. In 1968 BR established a ban on steam operation on any of its main lines (apart from Flying Scotsman) which was to last until the early 1970s. When the ban lifted railtours using steam returned and for many the 1970s and 1980s were a golden age of railtours, with many unusual workings.
In this book Laurie Golden recaptures these exciting years of railtours on Britain’s railways where so much was changing so fast, steam disappearing, lines closing and the old infrastructure being swept away, including mechanical signalling. With approximately half of the photographs representing the rundown of steam operation in the period 1963-68, and the rest of the photographs capturing the era of the return to steam on the national network for railtours in the 1970s and 1980s, this book is a portrait of an era that is now part of the history of our railways.