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Steam Power!

Published on April 28th, 2024

So many of us will forever feel a strong sense of nostalgia for the age of the steam locomotive which dutifully hauled freight and passengers trains. Thankfully, rail nostalgia seems on the rise, with nearly 100 preserved railways across Britain, many of which operate steam trains.

So give in to your memories of the great hum of the engine, the screech of the wheels, the smell of the coal and steam! Join us on a nostalgic journey back in time to the golden age of steam railways as captured by photographs from The Francis Frith Collection.

Isambard Kingdom Brunel built the famous Box Tunnel in 1841 as part of his ambitious Great Western Railway link between London's Paddington station and Bristol's Temple Meads. The 120 miles of railway line took five years to complete. Limestone from the excavated tunnel was used for building houses in nearby Corsham.

Photo: Corsham, Box Tunnel 1904.

Photo: Dover, Trains 1901.

Photo: Glyn Neath, The Viaduct c.1955.

Visitors came in increasing numbers after the Snowdon Mountain Railway opened in 1896, which provided easy access to the summit for hundreds of holidaymakers. The railway is the only rack railway in Britain, and runs for just over four-and-a-half miles from Llanberis to Snowdon Summit. This view shows the brand-new locomotive No 3, 'Wyddra', ascending out of Llanberis towards Snowdon—the rack is clearly visible. The line climbs over 3,000ft, with an average gradient of 1 in 7.

Photo: Snowdon, Snowdon Mountain Railway 1896.

The popular 10.25 inch narrow gauge railway, laid in 1949, is one the longest established in England. The line runs for half a mile round the smaller lake. Steam was replaced by diesel in 1970, but the four carriages are from the original train.

Photo: Poole, The Miniature Railway c.1960.

The magnificent sweep of York station dates from the completion of the Doncaster-Selby-York line. Opened in 1877, the station allowed through running of trains. The old station it replaced lay just within the city walls; its site and layout were such that trains had either to back in or out of it.

Photo: York, The Railway Station 1909.

Photo: Bampton, The Railway c.1955.

The Fairbourne Railway is a 12 1⁄4 inch gauge railway running for 2 miles from the village of Fairbourne on the Mid-Wales coast, alongside the beach to the end of a peninsula at Barmouth Ferry railway station, where there is a connection with the Barmouth Ferry across the Mawddach estuary to the seaside resort of Barmouth. Originally built to carry building materials, the railway has carried holidaymakers for over a hundred years. At its peak in the 1970s it was carrying in excess of 70,000 passengers a year. This photograph was taken c1960.

Photo: Fairbourne, Miniature Railway c.1960.

Photo: Swindon, G.W.R. Works 'trip' Train c.1913.

Photo: Blaenau Ffestiniog, Narrow Gauge Train c.1901.

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If you liked our "Steam Power!" Blog Feature, you might like to see and follow this Francis Frith board over on Pinterest.

This post has the following tags: Memories,Nostalgia.
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