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 Standard Age, examining the Standard locomotives.
Following the Second World War, the railways were somewhat worn out and run down, as was the steam locomotive fleet. The idealistic new Labour Government was committed to nationalising the railways, and thus produced a homogeneous railway system for the first time in Great Britain’s history.
However, there was no money for investment in the new technology of electrification or diesel locomotives which was taking place elsewhere in Europe and the USA, so steam designs were continued from the "Big 4" days and a new range of Standard locomotives was produced for construction in the 1950s.
There was to be one final steam ‘fling’ as the reconstruction of the controversial Bulleid Pacifics of the Southern produced what was to be effectively the last main line steam type of all.