It is now around half a century since those prized and polished steam locomotives, which star today on Britain’s main line and heritage railways, were just part of that great, grimy fleet that plied the country’s rail network, day in, day out, with scarcely a second glance from the world at large. The rescue of hundreds of these engines over that half century, and their return to steam, is a story every bit as fascinating as the lives of the engines themselves in every day service long ago.
One of the leading photographers of the era, Roger Siviter, was able to capture many of the historic scenes of this story, ranging from the first tentative forays by King George V in the early 1970s to the wide variety of locomotives, great and small, in steam by the turn of the millennium. The story takes us around lines, some famous and spectacular, some surprisingly little-known; while the variety of locomotives, and the various ways by which they came to escape the scrapyard, could scarcely have been imagined in the closing days of B.R. steam. Roger Siviter’s filmed record tells a story that evolved and grew in dozens of unexpected ways, and is here presented as a unique and fascinating record of a remarkable era.