James Gibb was an Admiralty apprentice in 1953. At the conclusion of his apprenticeship, he was conscripted into the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers and served two years working on guns in armored vehicles and on field and anti-aircraft guns. After his service he worked for some years in the aircraft industry in Vickers, Weybridge, and Smiths Instruments, Putney Vale. His interests include railways, genealogy and the history of manufacturing and technology, particularly in the fields of motorcycles, cars and aircraft.
Trainsby James Gibb
Railways changed the face of the world. They revolutionized the way that goods and people traveled, allowing industry to blossom by bringing raw materials and workers where they were needed. Rail travel made a huge difference to personal mobility, allowing the individual the chance of traveling a greater distance faster than before. Within a hundred years of its invention, rail travel was possible on nearly a million miles of track worldwide, from the London underground commuter network to the massive Trans-Siberian Railway that crossed the frozen wastes of Asiatic Russia.
By the early decades of the 20th century, nearly 900,000 miles of railroad had been built in the world, with some mileage in nearly every nation. In North America the lineage was huge: railway construction in general was very rapid in the post-Civil War decades and by 1890 the length of the U.S. rail system was 163,000 miles; by 1916 it had reached an all-time high of 254,000 miles. In Canada the first rail service started in 1836, and by 1880 the network had expanded to about 6,960 miles. The Canadian Pacific Railway was completed across the Rockies to the Pacific by 1885.
Even as railways exploded over the globe, signs of a decline in steam traction were apparent in the major industrialized nations after World War I. Early in the century the monopoly that had been held by steam railroads was challenged by a number of new modes of transport: electric trains; thousands and soon millions of private automobiles; intercity buses; larger and larger trucks; airplanes carrying mail, passengers, and high-priority freight; and a growing network of pipelines. As a result, railways in the United States and Europe went into decline after World War I, with substantial losses in mileage, employment, and traffic. However, steam railways had something that other forms of traction lacked. It's difficult to say exactly what that is, but for some reason the fire and smoke give the steam locomotive a life of its own. Today, even though steam has ceased regular mainline passenger transport, it retains its fascination and particular charm: look at the success of scenic railways and steam museums all over North America.
This handy book provides a valuable background to steam railways and a whistle-stop tour of the world's steam locomotives.
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- 8.10(w) x 15.10(h) x 0.40(d)
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