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 fascinating series 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.
These are the Ages of Steam.
We look at the Victorian and Edwardian locomotives
of The Golden Age – from the early
works of the Victorian engineers who were artists as much as engineers to the
first decade of the 20th century, when locomotive size would double and the railways
would reach their zenith.
Jazz Age covers the locomotives of the 1920s, when,
following the Great War, the railways of Britain had to renew war damage and
then re-group, forming four large companies – the "Big 4". We follow
the progress of locomotive design as each of the "Big 4" developed
its own style.
The years of the Great Depression are examined in The Streamline Age, measuring the impact of the financial crisis of
the 1930s on Britain's
railways. The urgent need for fleet renewal ensured there were major changes,
despite the depression, with many emerging locomotive proving to be the final
designs of their types.
The last private locomotives are the
subjects of The Austerity Age when
steam locomotive development almost came to a halt in Britain. We
look at the companies which chased simpler and cheaper designs, as well as the
most complicated and expensive steam locomotives produced by Oliver Bulleid.
The last programme in the series features The Standard Age, when the railways and
the steam fleet were worn out and run down. There was no money for investment
in electric or diesel technology to produce the Labour Government’s
nationalised railway system, so steam continued with the Standard locomotives.
Each title is also available individually.