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.

Feature Premium

The Class 390 Pendolino

One of the most successful trains in service is the Alstom-built Class 390 Pendolino, which has monopolised West Coast Main Line express services for almost two decades. EVAN GREEN-HUGHES looks into the history of this ground-breaking design.

Feature Premium

The Lynton and Barnstaple Railway

Perchance it is not dead but sleepeth’ said a wreath at Barnstaple Town station when the Lynton & Barnstaple Railway closed in 1935. EVAN GREEN-HUGHES charts the history and remarkable revival of this famous railway.

Feature Premium

Railway Realism: 70 Years of the Talyllyn

Heritage railways are now an everyday part of life – but 70 years ago when volunteers took over the isolated Talyllyn Railway in Wales the idea of amateurs running trains was considered not only controversial but also completely crackpot, as EVAN GREEN-HUGHES describes.

HM170 Reality Check Feature Premium

Reality Check: SECR Wainwright ‘D’

At the turn of the 20th century, the 4-4-0 was the most popular wheel arrangement for passenger work, so it was natural that when the South Eastern & Chatham Railway was looking to upgrade its fleet it opted for some, with the resulting ‘D’ class amongst the most handsome locomotives of the period, as EVAN GREEN-HUGHES describes.

Feature Premium

Railway Realism: Doncaster

Doncaster is synonymous with the word railway, having an extensive works and a large station, but had events taken a slightly different turn it might never have been on a main line at all, as EVAN GREEN-HUGHES found out.

HM169 4-BEP Reality Check Feature Premium

Reality Check: The 4-BEP EMU

During the 1950s and 1960s the Southern Region massively extended its electrified network, and in doing so introduced a number of new classes of Electric Multiple Unit, with one of the least numerous of these being the 4-BEP which was designed to provide catering on services on the South Coast lines. EVAN GREEN-HUGHES looks into the history of this small but unusual class.

BR Mk 1 at 70 Feature Premium

British Railways Mk 1 carriages

Born out of necessity and constructed in a time of skill and material shortage the BR Mk 1 coach was one of the outstanding success stories of the nationalisation era. EVAN GREEN-HUGHES looks back on its history.

Feature Premium

Hitachi IEP Class 800

Launched with a massive fanfare in 2017, the Hitachi Class 800 and its derivatives are set to become the predominant express train in use in this country. EVAN GREEN-HUGHES looks into the development of this futuristic unit.

Feature Premium

Reality Check: The ‘Coronation Scot’

The 1930s saw remarkable advances in railway technology, which produced improved journey times and better comfort for travellers. One of the most progressive trains of this time was the London Midland & Scottish Railway’s ‘Coronation Scot’ - an initiative that war cut short, as EVAN GREEN-HUGHES explains.

HM168 Railway Realism Feature Premium

Railway Realism: Settle-Carlisle railway

Soaring high into the Pennines in spectacular scenery, the Settle & Carlisle Railway has always held a special place in the hearts of enthusiasts and modellers. However, this railway had a troubled history with threats to its existence from the very start. EVAN GREEN-HUGHES explains.

Feature Premium

Derby’s Class 25/3

Perhaps one of the most recognisable diesel locomotives of the 1960s was the popular and versatile Class 25, a design that reached its best with its final version, the 25/3, which first appeared in 1965, as EVAN GREEN-HUGHES describes.

Class 37/4 Reality Check Feature Premium

Electric Train Heat Class 37/4

EVAN GREEN-HUGHES

The Class 37 is nearing its 60th birthday and continues in daily use on the national network. One of the most useful variants is the ‘37/4’, which was upgraded to supply Electric Train Heat in the 1980s. EVAN GREEN-HUGHES looks at the development and life of this 31 strong sub-fleet.

EVAN GREEN-HUGHES
Feature Premium

EYE IN THE SKY

A modeller's Model railways are viewed from above in most circumstances, but how much do we really think about how the landscape around the line looks? TIM SHACKLETON takes to the air to discover how railways really interact with their surroundings.

Feature Premium

The Brush Class 31

One of the most recognisable and longest-lived of the Modernisation Plan diesel locomotives is the Brush Type 2, which later became much better known as the Class 31. EVAN GREEN-HUGHES examines this design, which despite its longevity has not been without its problems.

Feature Premium

Dining by Rail

Dining on the rails was once an essential part of long-distance travel, but now this facility is limited to very few routes alongside special or tourist trains. EVAN GREEN-HUGHES investigates how changing times have led to the demise of the restaurant car.

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.

Feature Premium

The GWR railcars

The Great Western Railway is more often remembered for its fleet of copper-capped chimney steam locomotives rather than for technological innovation - but in fact the company was amongst the first to introduce viable diesel traction, in the form of a series of self-propelled railcars, as EVAN GREEN-HUGHES explains.

Feature Premium

Vossloh’s Class 68

Although the Class 68 has been with us for only three years, it has already amassed a considerable following. EVAN GREEN-HUGHES takes a closer look at this handsome and groundbreaking locomotive, which is set to be an industry standard for many years to come.

Feature Premium

S&D '7F' 2-8-0s

Throughout the history of the railways there have been many small classes of locomotive designed for specific tasks but, as EVAN GREEN-HUGHES describes, few have gained the popularity of the former Somerset and Dorset '7F' 2-8-0s.

Feature Premium

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.

Feature Premium

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.

Feature Premium

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.

HM165 Class 45 Reality Check Feature Premium

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.

HM165 Railway Realism Feature Premium

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.

Feature Premium

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.

Feature Premium

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.

HM163 English Electric GT3 Feature Premium

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. 

HM162 Reality Check Feature Premium

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.

Feature Premium

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.