Steeped in Steam

W Elgar Dickinson

Those readers who enjoyed Elgar Dickinson's earlier autobiographical books for Silver Link, A Friend in Steam and Steam: The Mystic Harmony, will be delighted to learn that he has put pen to paper once more to produce this varied 'hotchpotch' of memories, gathered together from a lifelong love of railways. He recalls the railway scene of the 1940s and 1950s, calmer, simpler times when train journeys revealed a network still rooted in the past, and when a cycle ride into the Midlands countryside, not yet clogged with motorways and roaring traffic, was the prelude to a few magical hours at the lineside. He was often accompanied by his great friend and fellow enthusiast Fred Kirk, and, fortified by tea and cheese and Marmite sandwiches, he would sit back and watch the passing pageant of the steam age, as well as committing it to film, to be savoured once more all these many years later. The book has no restrictive structure. The reminiscences, like memory itself, are presented in random order, as are the accompanying 100 or so photographs, so the book can be dipped into at any point, and long-past scenes summoned up by the author's distinctive, joyous yet thoughtful prose. Elgar Dickinson likens his far-off memories of the steam railway to comets streaking through the night skies. A momentary flash, then the experience passes away, yet it trails behind it a sparkling tail that stays embedded in the memory for ever. This book is the vessel for those memories, every one steeped in steam -