In Great Britain, the Victorians built
the vast bulk of the country’s railway system and constructed steam locomotives to work them -
many different designs were created, with many different results. The final
form of the steam locomotive was seen in the designs introduced in the early
years of the 20th century, from there on development was in detail and power.
Using footage from the last quarter of a
century, this programme looks at the way this final form was refined by some of
the most famous engineers of their time, right up to the last steam locomotives
built for main line service in the country.
This is The Austerity Age, examining the last private locomotives.
The Second World War virtually brought steam locomotive development to a halt
in Great Britain
- the watchword became "Austerity", as engineers tried to produce
simpler and cheaper designs.
This was the case everywhere except on the
Southern Railway, where the mercurial Oliver Bulleid produced some of the most
complicated and expensive steam locomotives ever to work on Britain’s
railways. Elsewhere, the GWR continued on its own course, while the LMS
produced a series of efficient smaller types to work almost anywhere. Gresley’s
sewing-machine engineering was swept aside by Thompson’s simple designs on the
LNER and even the Government got in on the act by specifying special
"Austerity" designs for the use of the WD, or War Department.
This DVD is also available as part of the 5-disc Ages of Steam box set.