The Somerset & Dorset from the Footplate
In 1987 the original Oxford Publishing Company produced an amalgam of two paperback books written by former Branksome fireman Peter Smith. Mendips Engineman and Footplate over the Mendips told the story of a young railway fireman and his driver Donald Beale. Enthralling the reader with stories of working trains over the old Somerset & Dorset line, the two books encompassed not just ordinary workings, but also early footplate experiences of his driver Donald Beale as well as the climax of Peter's own railway career, driving the very last northbound 'Pines Express' in 1962.
The Somerset and Dorset route from Bath to Bournemouth across the Mendip Hills passed through magnificent scenery but had difficult gradients and tunnels which taxed the abilities of both S&D enginemen and the line's ever changing motive power. Each mile of the long closed line could tell a story, tales which the author recounts in this book with accuracy, clarity, and humour.
This edition contains the complete original text and also includes a new set of black and white images with which to illustrate what remains a still lamented cross-country railway.
The Somerset and Dorset from the Footplate is a book to be savoured, not just by those who remember this line, but by a whole new generation of railway enthusiasts.
Paperback, 288 pages, 57 black & white photographs
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Updated: 29 December 2021