Rail Books - Free UK Postage on Orders Above £20!
Rail Books - Free UK Postage on Orders Above £20!
Cart 0
The Craft of the Fireman
Silver Link Books

The Craft of the Fireman

Regular price £10.00 £0.00 Unit price per

Those who have been on a footplate experience course, been given a short talk on firing and shown how to use an injector, provided they can stand on a footplate and have minimal skill with a shovel, know that they can generate enough steam to get a lightweight train (generally one coach) from A to B. However, this is vastly different from having to provide steam at or near the registered pressure of the boiler and at such a rate that the engine can develop the horsepower needed to produce the sort of mainline running that we are extremely fortunate to be able to experience at the present time.

A driver is still a driver whatever sort of motive power is in use, but the fireman - given a grate, a vessel in which to boil water and a supply of coal and water - is analogous to the engine in a diesel locomotive inasmuch that he is the sole provider of power. No matter how good a driver may be, he cannot produce a top performance unless his fireman does so and while drivers tend to get the credit, they also recognise that it is essentially a team effort.

As C Hamilton Ellis once said: "A good journey by steam is a realised work of art." In the heyday of steam, many millions of tons of coal were burnt annually by the railway companies, so any small improvement in the thermal efficiency of the locomotives could have a significant effect on the balance sheet. To this end, locomotive engineers tried a number of innovations over the years, most of which were abandoned on the grounds of additional costs of construction and maintenance. Probably not many people are aware that the biggest improvement could have been effected if the overall standards of firing had been brought nearer those of the best firemen.

Footplate observations in steam days showed that some firemen used twice as much coal as the best firemen on the same duty. As a corollary to Hamilton Ellis’s comment, top firemanship is an art in itself; The Craft of the Fireman helps to explain why.

Softback, 128 pages, colour photographs

ISBN: 9781857945676

Most orders are dispatched within two-three working days of receipt of cleared payment. If there is going to be a significant delay (more than 10 working days), we will contact you and, where possible, give you an estimated dispatch time.

Please be aware that advance orders will be sent as soon as the relevant book has been published. 

When placing your order, please ensure that you add the correct full shipping address to your order. This includes house number, street name, zip code/post code. If parcels are returned on account of an incorrect shipping address we will contact you to seek the correct address and also ask that you pay a contribution towards posting the parcel to you a second time. 


All orders over £20.00 are post free to all UK addresses. For orders of £20 or less, a £1.50 postage fee will be added. These are normally sent via Royal Mail 48 Hour (the business equivalent of 2nd class mail) which is not tracked. If you require tracking for your, tracking options are available for a small fee. If the service that you require is not shown, please get in touch with us and we can quote for your desired service.

Large, bulky or high value orders may be split in to multiple consignments or sent via courier. There is no additional charge for this and you will be advised at the order fulfillment stage if this happens.


Overseas orders are charged based on weight, and postage will be automatically calculated at checkout. For a postage quotation, please add the items you want to your cart and proceed to the checkout. All orders are usually sent via Air Mail - this is not tracked. If you required your order to be tracked or sent by a different service, please contact us, preferably before checkout.

Royal Mail will only accept parcels up to 5kg in weight (2kg for Canada). If you are ordering multiple items that exceed these limits, please contact us first so that we can advise you of the appropriate shipping rate.

Due to the high volume of parcels going missing, we are no longer able to send untracked orders via third party mail handling services such as Parcel Motel. We are able to send untracked parcels to bona fide PO Box addresses, friends and family members and to work addresses.

Some countries charge import taxes and we suggest that in these cases, you asked for your order to be tracked so the local taxation authorities can trace your parcel.

Please note that courier services are unable to deliver to PO Box addresses. If you usually use a PO Box address, you will need to supply an alternative address if you require shipping by courier. 

Updated: 1 June 2020