Jonathan Glancey
steamindex homepage

Giants of steam. London: Atlantic Books, 2012 (Paperback 2013). 376pp.

This is a "popular" book (Norfolk County Libraries has bought several copies of the paperback version) and I was able to pick it off the shelf in Sheringham. I assume that a review copy was not received by the Railway & Canal Historical Society (which should establish a database of books received) and has not been reviewed in Backtrack. The author is a Guardian journalist and the work may be regarded alongside that of Christian Wolmar, but extended to mechanical engineering which Wolmar largely avoids. Sometimes Glancey appears to take a rather too opinionated stance, for instance in his condemnation of Lord Stamp as being pro-German.

The paperback cover title includes a sub-title: "the great men & machines of rail's golden age". This "golden age" appears to be the inter-war period with the embers still glowing in the post Second World War period, but the period prior to WW1 is thinly covered and concentrates on a few notably Churchward, Schmidt, de Glehn and Garratt. It covers steam locomotives on a global basis, but with British development considered first. This period is well-known to Kevin Jones (and steamindex is cited) and to Phil Atkins (who is listed in the index). There is a list of (presumably key) people in bold type which excludes Fowler and T. Henry Turner (who is listed in the index). Golsdorf is a key omission. Webb is included (but not in the "list of people", whereas Ramsbottom is excluded. This omissuion is so serious that one wonders what the author considers happened between 1830 and 1890. Ahrons is a very serious omission from the bibliography.

The writing is enjoyable to read and one is made to feel the sight, sound and feel of that brief period just before the Second World War when the streamlined steam locomotive was routinely capable of running at speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour hauling luxury trains on which only an elite could afford to travel. Glancey also considers the steam freight Goliaths, notably the giant American Mallets which culminated in the Big Boys on the Union Pacific Railroad.

Louis Armand (1905-71),
France: Chief Mechanical Engineer, Western Region SNCF; chief of Resistance-Fer; General Manager SNCF

Max Baumberg (1906-78),
Germany: Chief of Locomotive Design, Deutsche Reichsbahn (East Germany). Was not in steamindex

Roland Bond (1903-80),
Great Britain: Chief Mechanical Engineer, British Railways

Jean Gaston du Bousquet (1839-1910),
France: Chief Mechanical Engineer, Chemin de Fer du Nord

Alfred W. Bruce (1879-1955),
USA: Director of Steam Engineering, Alco (American Locomotive Company). Was not in steamindex, but badly handled by Glancey who includes him in his list and bibliography, but not otherwise in text.  

Oliver Bulleid (1882-1970),
Great Britain: Chief Mechanical Engineer, Southern Railway and BR Southern Region; CME (Coras Impair Eireann)

Kenneth Cantlie (1899-1986),
Great Britain: Consulting Engineer, Chinese Ministry of Railways; technical advisor to Locomotive Manufacturers Association

George Carpenter (b. 1923),
Great Britain: Locomotive engineer, historian

Marc de Caso (1893-1985),
France: Principal locomotive design engineer, Chemin de Fer du Nord, SNCF. Was not in steamindex

Andre Chapelon (1892-1978),
France: Principal locomotive design engineer, P.G-Midi Railway; Chief Engineer, SNCF

George Jackson Churchward (1857-1933),
Great Britain: Chief Mechanical Engineer, Great Western Railway

Daniel Kinnear Clark (1822-96),
Great Britain: Locomotive superintendent, Great North of Scotland Railway

Tom Francis Coleman (1885-1958),
Great Britain: Chief locomotive draughtsman, London Midland & Scottish Railway; chief locomotive and rolling stock draughtsman, BR London Midland Region

Ernest Stewart Cox (1900-92),
Great Britain: Executive officer design, British Railways

Thomas Russell Crampton (1816-88),
Great Britain: Civil and locomotive engineer; inventor of the Crampton locomotive

Ctesibius (fl. 285-222 BCE)
Pioneer of pneumatics

Nicolas Joseph Cugnot (1725-1804),
France: Inventor of steam vehicle

Rudolf Diesel (1858-1913),
Germany: Mechanical engineer; inventor of the diesel engine. Was not in steamindex

Joseph B. Ennis (1879-1955),
USA: Senior Vice President, Engineering, Alco. Was not in steamindex

Lawford H. Fry (1874-1949),
USA: Director of research, steam locomotive research division, Steam Locomotive Institute

Herbert William Garratt (1864-1913),
Great Britain: Mechanical engineer; inventor of the Garratt locomotive (KPJ: Sam Jackson, the Tom Coleman or Bert Spencer of Garratt design and Cyril Williams fail to receive their justifiable mention)

Adolph Giesl-Gieslingen (1903-92),
Austria: Locomotive design engineer; inventor of Giesl ejector

Alfred George de Glehn (1848-1936),
France: Chief Mechanical Engineer, Societe Alsacienne de Constructions Mecaniques

Herbert Nigel Gresley (1876-1941),
Great Britain: Chief Mechanical Engineer, Great Northern Railway, London and North Eastern Railway

Russell G. Henley, (1884-1953)
USA: Design engineer, Norfolk and Western Railway. Was not in steamindex

Hero of Alexandria (c10-70 CE)
Inventor of first steam powered device

Otto Jabelmann (1891-1943),
USA: Vice president, Research, Union Pacific Railroad

Ralph P. Johnson, (1890-1980)
USA: Chief Engineer, Baldwin Locomotive Works. Was not in steamindex

Paul Kiefer (1888-1968),
USA: Chief motive power engineer, New York Central Railroad

Kyosti Kylila (1873-1938),
Finland: Inventor of Kylala steam/gas exhaust

Lev Sergeyevich Lebedyansky, (1898-1968)
Russia: Head of Construction, Kolomensky Machine Building Design Bureau

A. I. Lipetz (1881-1950),
USA: Chief consulting engineer, Alco

Anatole Mallet (1837-1919),
Switzerland: Inventor of Mallet articulated locomotive

Vlastimil Mares (1896-1979),
Czechoslovakia: Chief Mechanical Engineer, railways, Czechoslovak Ministry of Transport

Raoul Notesse (1898-1944),
Belgium: Locomotive design engineer, SNCB

John Pilcher (1868-1949),
USA: Design engineer, Norfolk and Western Railway

Livio Dante Porta (1922-2003),
Argentina: Steam locomotive engineer; inventor of gas-producer firebox

R. A. 'Robin' Riddles (1892-1983),
Great Britain: Railway executive member for mechanical and electrical engineering, British Transport Commission

Wilhelm 'Hot Steam Willy' Schmidt (1858-1924),
Germany: Inventor of practical superheater

Hideo Shima (1901-98),
Japan:  Head of rolling stock, Japanese Government Railways, Vice president or engineering, Japanese National Railways; President, National Space Development Agency

William Stanier (1876-1965),
Great Britain: Chief Mechanical Engineer, London Midland and Scottish Railway

George Stephenson (1781-1848)/Robert Stephenson (1803-59),
Great Britain: Mechanical and civil engineers; creators with Marc Seguin (1786-1875) of mainline steam railway locomotive

A. J. 'Bert' Townsend (1892-1953),
USA : Chief engineer, Lima locomotive works

Richard Trevithick (1771-1833),
Great Britain: Inventor and builder of first steam railway locomotive

Richard Wagner (1882-1953),
Germany: Reichsbahnoberrat: Chief of design, Deutsche Reichsbahn

Egide Walschaerts (1820-1901),
Belgium: Mechanical engineer; inventor of Walschaerts valve gear

David Wardale (b. 1946),
Great Britain: Locomotive engineer; famous for Red Devil and SAT Project

James Watt (1736-1819),
Great Britain: Inventor and mechanical engineer; revolutionized the early steam engine

Friedrich Witte (1900-77),
Germany: Chief of Locomotive Design, Deutsche Bundesbahn (West Germany)

Adolf Wolff (1894-1964),
Germany: Chief design engineer, Borsig Lokomotivwerke

William E. Woodard (1873-1942),
USA: Chief Engineering Director, Lima locomotive works; originator of 'super-power' steam