Last Rites

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Steam's final fling proved a melancholy experience for the many enthusiasts who had witnessed the gleaming giants of the rails in their prime. One day's highly burnished rail tour favourite was the next day's candidate for the breaker's torch. This book takes a look at those latter days of steam, with an unashamedly nostalgic approach. As the modernisation plan gathered force in the mid-1960s, British Railways simply could not cope with a rejected army of steam engines that would previously have met their end discreetly at their own workshops, so a myriad of scrapyards sprang up to deal with Britain's hurried race to abolish steam, while yards and locomotive sheds seemed to have as many rusting hulks as working steam engines. John Evans took his camera to some of these haunts for one last look at some old friends, caught in their final hours. The sheds and yards he visited, like steam itself, are already part of history, but here you can visit them with him one last time. Sadly, almost none of the engines he pictured escaped the cutter's torch, so these are precious memories, published for the first time.


Having a father who ran a shop selling model railways probably sealed the fate of John Evans as a railway enthusiast. Spending all his money - and rather too much of his time - amassing a collection of railway pictures, he fortunately stored them carefully away. 'My education was undertaken at Northampton engine shed,' he jokes. He now lives in West Yorkshire and still ventures regularly to the lineside.