Great value trains bundle featuring the whole spectrum of preservation action: from tiny slate engines to steam giants and best-loved diesels.
Slate Engines of Snowdonia
The industrial history of Great Britain is full of companies from the Victorian era which were built on the power of steam. One aspect of this was the use of specially designed steam railway locomotives which, whilst not having the glamour of the big main line types, were truly the backbone of industry.
Many were the varieties of such locomotive and many have reached a comfortable retirement on the heritage steam network of the country today. Amongst them is a fleet of very special locomotives which served out their working days in North Wales in the heart of the slate industry of Snowdonia. These machines, running on a narrow gauge of 2 foot tracks, were especially associated with the Dinorwic Quarries which were located on the opposite side of Lake Padarn to Mount Snowdon itself and most were versions - with minor detailed variations - of a class built by the Hunslet Engine Company of Leeds. These became known as "The Quarry Hunslets".
They were gradually withdrawn from service in the quarries in the 1950s and 1960s, just as the preservation of railways was booming. Narrow gauge lines were the pioneers and many found the Quarry Hunslets ideal for their lines, so much so that most of them still exist - and run - today. Rejoicing in names such as Holy War, King of the Scarlets, Lilla, George B, Maid Marian and Chaka’s Kraal No. 6 here you can see them in action on all sorts of railways, many still in the heart of Snowdonia.
Top Ten Steam Locomotives
Everyone has their favourite steam locomotive, so which are the Top 10 in popularity? Without causing offence to those who treasure one particular engine here we bring - in no particular order - the ten best-known of Britain's amazing collection of giants of the steam age.
In this programme you will see the following locomotives: Clan Line, Union of South Africa, Duchess of Sutherland, Britannia, King Edward II, Clun Castle, Braunton, Mayflower, Leander and, of course, Flying Scotsman - together with their classmates - across the British railway network, on both public and private lines. All are seen in detail and working hard, as good today as they have ever been.
Relive the romance of those crack ‘named locomotives’ – the great Expresses of the Golden age of steam in this nostalgic programme - and choose your own Top 10!
Great American Steam
The development of the steam locomotive arguably reached its zenith on the railroads of North America. On those lines massive articulated machines worked hard for their living, mostly hauling incredibly long (by UK standards) freight trains on which the economy of the United States of America relied.
Unsurprisingly, in view of the enormity of these machines, few have the resources to restore the survivors and even fewer can afford to run them. Notable amongst those who can and do is the famous Union Pacific Railroad, which still even has its very last-built steam locomotive alive today and on its roster.
That locomotive is Northern type 4-8-4 no.844 - known as The Living Legend - and it is featured in this programme, working across the old West together with its stablemate UP 3985 - the Challenger. Other UP engines - and those of other railroads - are to be seen working on railroads across the continent including Consolidations, Mikados and classic American types. American narrow-gauge locomotives are also massive - easily bigger than most European machines - and examples of these can be seen in Colorado and New Mexico working on lines that climb the Rockie Mountains. Sit back and watch these locos exude power!
Top Ten Historic Diesels
Although to many diesels will always be thought of as the machines that killed steam, there have been many notable diesel locomotives which have created their own followers and fans. Who can fail to be excited by the roar of a Deltic when the power is cranked up as its two massive engines release 3,300 horsepower and move a train up to 100 miles an hour? Or witness the seemingly-disconnected sound of the hydraulic powertrain of a Western or a Warship? Or thrill to the unique sound of the great English Electric type 4s - the Whistlers?
All these and more are amongst our Top 10 diesels, the others being class 33 Cromptons, class 35 Hymeks, class 37 Growlers, class 45 Peaks, class 50 Hoovers and the unique class 73 Electro-diesels. They are presented in their class numerical order so as not to hurt anyone's sensitivities!
These magnificent machines have all but disappeared from main line service as soulless all-powered-vehicle DMUs and EMUs now rule the rails. Nevertheless, many of these classic diesels still work on heritage railways and some even still run on special trains on the Network. You don't have to go anywhere to see them - just enjoy this programme!