By Peter Tuffrey (hardback, Ian Allan, 144pp, £22.50, ISBN 0 7110m 3847 9).
It seems that there can never be enough books on Sir Nigel Gresley’s A4 Pacifics, one of which placed Britain back at the top of steam locomotive development, if only for its style and speed record.
While most of what can be said about A4s has been written many times, this new volume succeeds admirably in condensing a complicated subject into a very lucid and readable history, bringing the story up to date.
Separate chapters cover the search for speed from 1911-34, style, comfort and prestige before the Second World War, during the war and immediate postwar years, reaching the peak between 1948-66 and the heritage era from 1963 to the present day. The fresh and detailed overview not only places the class within the context of British locomotive development but what was happening around the world at the same time.
The author’s superb flowing writing style makes what could be yet another dry locomotive history into a gripping read that is superbly illustrated by colour and black and white pictures throughout.
For those who think they know the class inside out, there will be much that places it in a fresh perspective.
For those newcomers that have been ‘switched on’ to A4s by the Mallard 75 celebrations, there are mountains of delights.
COMPLETE ENTERTAINING HISTORY
For more reviews, letters, opinion, news and views see Issue 220 of Heritage Railway