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.

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Metropolitan Vickers Type 2 Co-Bo

EVAN GREEN-HUGHES

In the rush to modernise the railways in the 1950s many diesel designs were ordered straight off the drawing board. EVAN GREEN-HUGHES looks at the chequered history of one of the least successful, the Metropolitan Vickers Co-Bo.

EVAN GREEN-HUGHES
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RAILWAY REALISM: Winter on the Line

EVAN GREEN-HUGHES

​Winter brings special challenges for the railway, with snow, ice and fog making operation particularly difficult. EVAN GREEN-HUGHES examines how the system coped in the past and today, highlighting some of the special equipment used.

EVAN GREEN-HUGHES
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The Beattie '0298' 2-4-0 Well Tanks

EVAN GREEN-HUGHES

Many steam locomotives were given second lives in industrial and heritage railway service but seldom did this happen on the main line network. EVAN GREEN-HUGHES takes a look at the Beattie well tanks, which first escaped the scrapman 116 years ago!

EVAN GREEN-HUGHES
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Reality Check: The North British D600 ‘Warships’

EVAN GREEN-HUGHES

Although much is known about the Western Region’s famous ‘Warship’ diesel-hydraulics, British Railways owned another set of locomotives with the same description and mechanical layout - but these were rather unreliable and made an early exit, as EVAN GREEN-HUGHES explains.

EVAN GREEN-HUGHES
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Class 59 heavy-freight diesel history

EVAN GREEN-HUGHES

More than three decades ago a small fleet of Class 59 diesel locomotives arrived in this country, and immediately proved themselves far superior to anything that we already had on our railways, starting a revolution that would, in time, see hundreds of similar locomotives brought to our shores, as EVAN GREEN-HUGHES explains.

EVAN GREEN-HUGHES
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North Eastern Railway pioneer electrics

EVAN GREEN-HUGHES

While electrification is very much in the news these days, the release of a model of a pioneering North Eastern Railway locomotive reminds us that such schemes have been around for more than 100 years. EVAN GREEN-HUGHES has the story.

EVAN GREEN-HUGHES
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The final HST wind down

EVAN GREEN-HUGHES

British Rail’s Inter-City 125 is one of the most recognisable and successful trains in railway history but is now reaching the end of its operational days. Some units, however, are enjoying a second life, as EVAN GREEN-HUGHES explains.

EVAN GREEN-HUGHES
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The LNER’s elegant ‘B12’ 4-6-0

EVAN GREEN-HUGHES

At the turn of the 20th century, many British railways developed more powerful passenger locomotives, and amongst the most elegant were the Great Eastern Railway’s long-lived ‘B12’ 4-6-0s, as EVAN GREEN-HUGHES describes.

EVAN GREEN-HUGHES
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Railway Realism: Chinley

EVAN GREEN-HUGHES

Once the centre of a busy railway network Chinley, in Derbyshire, is now but a shadow of its former self. EVAN GREEN-HUGHES looks at the rise and fall of this important railway landmark.

EVAN GREEN-HUGHES
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Reality Check: GWR ‘Kings’ - the ultimate 4-6-0

EVAN GREEN-HUGHES

Widely regarded as the ultimate development of the Great Western 4-6-0, ‘Kings’ were locomotives of great beauty and extremely powerful workhorses as well, as EVAN GREEN-HUGHES relates.

EVAN GREEN-HUGHES
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Reality Check: The ‘Electric Scot’ - BR’s Class 87s

EVAN GREEN-HUGHES

For many years the premier express locomotives on the West Coast Main Line were the Class 87s, but they have now fallen from grace though surprisingly many are enjoying a second but rather less glamorous career, as EVAN GREEN-HUGHES explains.

EVAN GREEN-HUGHES
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Reality Check: Stanier’s ‘Duchess’ class 'Pacifics

EVAN GREEN-HUGHES

Although eclipsed in the public’s imagination by engines from rival railways the LMS ‘Duchesses’ were the most powerful passenger locomotives of their time and given other circumstances might have even held the world steam speed record, as EVAN GREEN-HUGHES explains.

EVAN GREEN-HUGHES
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Class 92 Electrics

. EVAN GREEN-HUGHES

Throughout the history of Britain’s railways there have been many locomotives and trains with troubled histories, with amongst the most recent the Class 92 electrics - a design that has struggled to find its rightful place on today’s railway despite its immense capability, as EVAN GREEN-HUGHES explains.

. EVAN GREEN-HUGHES
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The Crosti ‘9Fs’ - a bold experiment

EVAN GREEN-HUGHES

One of the most easily identifiable of the ‘standard’ classes was the small group of Crosti boilered ‘9F’ 2-10-0s, a peculiar design which had the chimney halfway down the boiler and which was anything but a success.

EVAN GREEN-HUGHES
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The Southern Railway 'Lord Nelson' 4-6-0s

EVAN GREEN-HUGHES

During the 1920s the Southern Railway identified a requirement for a powerful yet fast locomotive for use on its continental boat train services, and this was to lead to the development of the ‘Lord Nelson’ class, a design that perhaps never really lived up to its full potential. EVAN GREEN-HUGHES takes up the story.

EVAN GREEN-HUGHES
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TRACKSIDE EQUIPMENT - PART 3

In the final part of his series looking at lineside equipment, SIMON PALEY turns his attention to the all-important signs which provide vital information.

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BARROW HILL ROUNDHOUSE

The circular engine shed, or roundhouse, was once one of the most common structures on the railway but over the years hundreds have been demolished, leaving the one at Barrow Hill in Derbyshire as the only example still working and in anything like original condition, as EVAN GREEN-HUGHES describes.

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MODERN TRACKSIDE EQUIPMENT - PART 2

In this second installment exploring lineside equipment on today’s railway, SIMON PALEY focuses on track mounted infrastructure and outlines how you can model it.

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KEEPING TRAINS MOVING

Although trains run on what is usually termed the permanent way, in fact it is anything but permanent and requires constant attention and replacement. EVAN GREEN-HUGHES looks at how track is maintained and how that process has changed over the years.

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REALITY CHECK: The Fell diesel locomotive story

In the quest to replace steam locomotives, one of the most remarkable designs was the one-off Fell diesel, which combined an innovative engine and transmission system with multiple power units, as EVAN GREEN-HUGHES explains.

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British Rail's Mk2 DBSOs

Railway operators are always seeking ways to improve efficiency, and one of the most interesting results of this process was the conversion of a number of brake coaches to include a cab, enabling a train to be driven from either end. EVAN GREEN-HUGHES looks more closely at British Rail’s Mk2 Driving Brake Second Opens.

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MODERN TRACKSIDE EQUIPMENT - PART 1

Have you ever wondered what the various items of lineside equipment are on today’s modern railway? In the first of a series of articles, SIMON PALEY outlines the role they play and how you can replicate them in model form.

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Mail by Rail

At one time an important and profitable source of income for the railways, mail traffic has largely disappeared from the system. EVAN GREEN-HUGHES traces the history and decline of mail by rail.

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CLASS 769 BI-MODE UNITS

Repurposing and recycling are very much in vogue at the moment, but are principles rarely applied to trains. However, that is now all changing with the rebuilding of surplus electric multiple units into versatile and useful bi-mode trains, as EVAN GREEN-HUGHES explains.

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Eastern promise... UNFULFILLED

The recent introduction of a model of the 1903-built petrol-electric Autocar has aroused much interest in early forms of alternative traction – many of which were pioneered by railways in North Eastern England, as EVAN GREEN-HUGHES explains.

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EASTERN REGION HISTORY

Of all the regions created when the railways were nationalised, the Eastern was perhaps the most forward-looking, yet many aspects of its advances are today not widely appreciated, as EVAN GREEN-HUGHES explains.

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NATIONAL ‘GRIDS’ - THE CLASS 56

The Class 56 is one of only a few British diesel locomotive classes to be designed specifically for heavy freight work and has nowadays largely disappeared from the network - although those that remain could have an interesting future. EVAN GREEN-HUGHES explains all.

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DEEP UNDERGROUND

With a route mileage of just under 250 and serving 272 stations, the London Underground network carries around five million passengers a day, yet attracts little attention from enthusiasts and modellers. EVAN GREEN-HUGHES delves into the fascinating history of this unique system, much of which is normally well hidden from public view.

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Farewell to the ‘Bubbles’ Class 121 and 122 DMUs

On May 19 2017, the final examples of British Railway’s famous ‘bubble cars’ were withdrawn from mainline service after a remarkable career spanning 57 years, during which time they have gone through many modifications and changes to their duties. EVAN GREEN-HUGHES reflects on the story of the Class 121 and 122 DMUs.

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The East Coast Class 91s

Although a staple of the East Coast Main Line for the last three decades the Class electrics are now coming to the end of their illustrious careers, during which time each has covered more than seven million miles, as EVAN GREEN-HUGHES reports.