In this book L. A. Summers investigates the facts behind the myths and mysteries using modern research and newly discovered information. What was life really like for railwaymen in the days of steam? Did the locomotive superintendents of some companies network their ideas, and further, was GWR influence to be seen in far-flung parts of the world like Egypt, Malaya and Australia?
The author reveals the facts about the mythical 'Hawksworth Pacific' and in the projects that were never progressed, the Stanier-Hawksworth 4-cylinder compound, the express passenger Pacific tank of the early 1930s, the wide firebox 2-8-0 based on the LMS 8F, the coal fuelled gas turbine, the Caprotti County and the one that was completed - Dean's express passenger 4-2-4T, only ever to run a few yards outside the works. The author paints a broad canvas putting Swindon in its British, European and world wide context.
Son of a GWR engine driver L A Summers was a professional teacher and historian for 30 years. He was involved with research on errant pupil behaviour and on teaching history through computers. After leaving teaching, a lifelong interest in railways, inspired by a Didcot school teacher, led to his joining the Great Western Society as editor of the Great Western Echo magazine which has been revolutionised under his direction. He strongly believes in the primacy of research over the long-accepted but often erroneous writings of old-style railway authors. His first railway article was published over 40 years ago and since 1990 he has contributed regularly to railway magazines, sometimes controversial and often revealing articles, in particular, about locomotive design. He has travelled widely and photographed trains all over the world; an artist and graphic layout specialist, the last skill he readily admits to having picked up almost entirely from his wife, Barbara. His other interests include walking the dog, admiring his wife, music, politics and (same thing really!) writing fiction.