Author(s): R. H. N. Hardy
This fascinating volume illuminates the world of Britain's railways during the Age of Steam, seen through the eyes of legendary railwayman Richard Hardy. One of the last of the 'old breed', Richard is the author of innumerable transport articles and biographies of Dr Beeching and Bert Hooker as well as Conway's 'The Railwayman's Pocket-Book'. During much of his early career, from 1944 through to the early 1960s, Richard took hundreds of pictures of life on the railways and the men he knew and worked with on a daily basis, using his trusty Brownie 620 box camera. These unique and largely unpublished images form a fascinating and hugely evocative portrayal of the height of the steam era, during the age of the 'Big Four', and after 1947 on the sprawling nationalised network known as British Railways. Many of the pictures capture the railways in wartime, providing a valuable social record of the nation at war. In addition there is a sequence of rare photographs of French engines, railways and railwaymen, which offer a superb contrast to the British rail network (it quickly becomes evident that whereas the British rail system ran on tea, the French system ran on wine).
Great characters are the unifying theme of the pictures, and they include famous figures associated with the railways such as the poet John Betjeman. This lavishly illustrated book sets Richard's personal photographs and text alongside a carefully collated selection of ephemera, artworks and photographs drawn from the National Railway Museum, York. Collectively these images and artefacts tell the stories of the great brotherhood of railwaymen.
Richard Harry Norman Hardy worked on Britain's railways for over forty years, serving his apprenticeship at Doncaster Locomotive Works and Running Shed between 1941-44, before becoming a shed master, locomotive engineer, divisional manager at King's Cross and Liverpool stations and an Engineering and Research development adviser. He retired in 1982 with more than 60,000 miles of footplate experience on all classes of LNER, GC and GN engines. Richard is the author of four books and numerous articles, originally writing under the pseudonym of Balmore. He completed two autobiographical works, Steam in the Blood (1971) and Railways in the Blood (1985) as well as biographies of Beeching: Beeching: Champion of the Railway? (1989), and Bert Hooker: Bert Hooker, Legendary Railwayman (1994).