Railway History

RAILWAY HISTORY

Join us and delve into the archives to discover the stories of locomotive classes large and small, learn how the railway worked, and why it was built in this amalgamation of the popular Reality Check and Railway Realism sections from Hornby Magazine.

HM166 Reality Check Feature Premium

Thompson's ‘A2/2s’ and ‘A2/3s’

Although the ‘Pacifics’ of the LNER are generally considered to be some of the best-looking locomotives ever built, there was one batch of locomotives that defied this rule. EVAN GREEN-HUGHES and ANDREW RODEN look into the history of the ‘A2/2s’ and ‘A2/3s’ which, while they looked ungainly, were an intelligent response to wartime pressures.

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Bulleid's diesel dinosaurs

Although diesel-electric locomotives are still thought of as ‘modern traction’, pioneering models were in service more than 65 years ago, with some of the first being the Southern Region’s main line trio 10201-10203, as EVAN GREEN-HUGHES describes.

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GWR '57XX' 'Pannier'

The ‘Pannier’ tank, and in particular the ‘57XX’ class, is a design which synonymous with the Great Western Railway, but although hundreds of them were constructed, they were never included in Churchward’s masterplan, as EVAN GREEN-HUGHES explains.

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The BR Sulzer Class 45

For many years the Class 45 was the backbone of the Midland Region, and one of the most recognisable designs of the early diesel period. EVAN GREEN-HUGHES delves into the history of this solid but old-fashioned workhorse.

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The final years of the Class 45s

While many of British Railways’ early diesel classes were failures, the Class 45s were so useful that many were upgraded and refurbished to extend their lives, as EVAN GREEN-HUGHES explains.

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Nuclear Trains

Spent nuclear material being moved by rail generates much criticism from environmentalists despite its impeccable safety record, but it also generates a substantial income. EVAN GREEN-HUGHES finds out more.

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Direct Rail Services Class 20/3

Throughout railway history there have been many instances of obsolete equipment being repurposed for a second life, with few being as successful as the rebuilding of a small fleet of almost 40-year-old locomotives to become the Class 20/3s, as EVAN GREEN-HUGHES explains.

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BR’s traction options

Much has been written about British Railways’ post-war traction policy and in particular its decision to continue constructing what many regarded as obsolete and outdated steam engines. EVAN GREEN-HUGHES looks again at the dilemma BR faced and reviews whether, with hindsight, it came to the right decision.

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ENGLISH ELECTRIC’S GT3

In the rush to replace steam during the 1950s and 1960s a number of different propulsion systems were proposed, with gas turbines being the least successful. A number of experimental locomotives were, however, built with one of the shortest lived being English Electric’s GT3, as EVAN GREEN-HUGHES remembers.

HM163 Railway Realism Feature Premium

Brewery and Distillery lines

Drink production was given a huge boost by the development of Britain’s railways, with beers, wines and spirits becoming a large part of the economy. EVAN GREEN-HUGHES looks at how this traffic developed and how it became such a major source of income. 

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JOHNSON’S ‘1P’ 0-4-4Ts

For more than half a century, the Midland Railway’s primary lightweight passenger design for secondary duties was a very neat and attractive series of 0-4-4T engines designed by Samuel Johnson. EVAN GREEN-HUGHES looks back at the history of one of the variants of this once numerous class, and finds out why it was so long-lived.

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Railways of the Lake District

The railways of the Lake District have long drawn admiration from passengers and enthusiasts – but as EVAN GREEN-HUGHES reveals, they also prompted poetic outrage from one of Britain’s legendary wordsmiths.

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Reality Check: The prototype HST

The High Speed Train has proved to be one of the icons of British railway history since its inception almost half a century ago. EVAN GREEN-HUGHES finds out how the concept was developed and looks back at the first of the type.

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Gresley's 'Quad-Art' coaches

Articulated coaches are often provided for the modern railway as a way of saving weight, improving capacity or for cost effectiveness, but the idea is not new and first appeared in the UK almost a century ago. EVAN GREEN-HUGHES takes a look at the famous ‘Quad-Arts’, which were amongst the most successful articulated vehicles ever to have operated in this country.

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Reality Check: LNER ‘N2’ 0-6-2T

Perhaps the most popular model of the early Hornby Dublo period was the LNER’s ‘N2’ 0-6-2T, which launched the Dublo range alongside the Gresley ‘A4’ in 1938. Many variations, some more realistic than others, followed. EVAN GREEN-HUGHES looks back at the history of this often modelled but unappreciated class.

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Dublo in the '60s

The Modernisation Plan of the 1950s created huge interest, with many clamouring to model the latest trains. Hornby Dublo was quick off the mark and often produced models even before the prototypes had taken to the rails, as EVAN GREEN-HUGHES relates.

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The Clayton Type 1s

In its rush to dispense with steam locomotives, British Railways ordered many new diesels straight from the drawing board. One of the shortest-lived was the Clayton Class 17 – now the subject of a new model from Heljan. EVAN GREEN-HUGHES looks at the history of this handsome, but unreliable class in this feature from HM24 in 2009.

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Split box Class 37/0s - the early years

One of the most successful diesel locomotives ever to run in Britain is the English Electric Class 37, a design that has now given 60 years of front-line service to our railways. EVAN GREEN-HUGHES looks back at the inception and early years of this popular machine.

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Hard rock from the Mendips

Some of the longest and heaviest trains on the UK network originate in the Mendip Hills of North Somerset, and provide materials for many of the country’s biggest construction projects. EVAN GREEN-HUGHES takes a look at this traffic, which has grown tremendously over the years.

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British Railways Southern Region

Bulleid ‘Pacifics’ racing third-rail Electric Multiple Units might be many people’s vision of the Southern Railway, but as GRAHAM MUSPRATT explains, from bucolic branch lines to archaic tank engines, there was much more to this famous company.

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A load of rubbish!

Nudear waste has been a staple rail traffic for decades. SIMON BENDALL examines operation under Direct Rail Services following the release of Accurascale’s superb ’OO’ gauge wagons.

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THE PRESSED STEEL CLASS 117

One of the longest-lived of the first-generation DMUs was the Pressed Steel-built Class 117, intended for the Western Region but later used in many other parts of the country. EVAN GREEN-HUGHES delves into the history of these highly regarded trains.

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WARTIME HEAVY FREIGHT

In times of national crisis our railways are often called on to perform extraordinary feats, and in the Second World War freight traffic rose to such an extent that a special breed of locomotive was required to deal with it. EVAN GREEN-HUGHES explains all.

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The 'A4s’ Scottish fling

The dieselisation programme of the 1950s should have meant a swift end for Gresley’s streamlined ‘A4s’, but some enjoyed a memorable swansong, with duties far removed from those with which they were traditionally associated, as EVAN GREEN-HUGHES found out.

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Sliding doors

The Mk 3 carriage was one of the greatest designs ever produced for the railways of Britain and, although now almost 50 years old, it is heading for a new lease of life, thanks to the fitting of up-to-date features such as swing-plug and sliding doors. EVAN GREEN-HUGHES examines the latest developments.

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LMS ‘8F’ 2-8-0

One of the most numerous and effective classes of locomotive ever built was Stanier’s heavy freight ‘8F’ 2-8-0 – which varied careers at home and abroad, EVAN GREEN-HUGHES describes.

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All change at Heaton Lodge

The subject of one of this issue’s layouts, Heaton Lodge in the Calder Valley has had numerous alterations over the years, mirroring the changing fortunes of the surrounding area, as EVAN GREEN-HUGHES describes.

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‘Hymek’ Hydraulics

Lauded by many as one of the best looking of all the first-generation diesel classes, the Class 35 ‘Hymeks’ nevertheless had short working lives, with the last withdrawn almost half a century ago. EVAN GREEN-HUGHES explains the story of this distinctive hydraulic design.

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Immingham Docks

Although railway companies were primarily concerned with the transport of goods and passengers their influence spread to many other areas, one of which was the creation of new docks and harbours. EVAN GREEN-HUGHES takes a look at how the Great Central Railway created one of the most impressive of these, at Immingham in north east Lincolnshire.

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60 years of Evenıng Star

Sixty years ago this month a name was attached to the last steam engine to be built for British Railways. That name was Evening Star, and the locomotive on which it was mounted was to become one of the most famous in UK railway history, as EVAN GREEN-HUGHES recalls.