For twenty-three years, up to the First World War, Alfred Williams worked in the Great Western Railway's Works at Swindon, the locomotive capital of the west. The population of the town was then about fifty thousand, all more or less dependent upon the factory for survival. About twelve thousand men normally worked there. Every single aspect of life is covered in his book, first published in 1915, and he does not pull any punches in describing the appalling working conditions in the foundries, blast furnaces, blacksmith's shops and engine sheds which made up this vast industrial complex. If you want to know how a locomotive was made, and about the people who made them, read this book.
Alfred Williams (1877-1931) had a love of working, country people and their traditional ways which was reflected in his writing. His other works include A Wiltshire Village (1912) and Villages of the White Horse (1914).