Gallery: Rekindling the romance of Suffolk's steam age

FORMER Evening Star picture editor David Kindred has raided his extensive archive of old photographs to produce this wonderful record of steam railways in Suffolk.

FORMER Evening Star picture editor David Kindred has raided his extensive archive of old photographs to produce this wonderful record of steam railways in Suffolk.

And it is a superb record of more than 70 years when steam was king in the region, before the march of the diesel and electric trains we see today.

The earliest pictures come from the days before the island platform was built at Ipswich station - when all trains used what is now platform two.

The pictures chart all eras of steam train operation in the region - from the first sight of the “new” Ipswich station in 1860 to the arrival of the Britannias in the 1950s.

So it takes the reader from the days of the Eastern Union Railway through the Great Eastern to the LNER and ultimately British Railways.

Each era left its stamp on the region's railways.

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But of course photography become more common after the first world war, so there is an inevitable emphasis on the latter days of steam . . . and of course it is those days that will rekindle memories in some older readers.

Some of the older pictures tell stories of incidents that I - a keen rail enthusiast - had never heard of before like the great Westerfield boiler explosion of 1900 which killed the driver and fireman.

There is also a wonderful picture of one of the rarest locomotives of all time, the LNER “Hush Hush” experimental engine on its only visit to Ipswich.

Many of the pictures feature LNER locomotives, either in their original ownership or in early BR days.

And looking at these images, it struck me how poorly served this part of the country is in the preservation era.

There are no “Sandringham” or “Claud Hamilton” locos preserved and only a solitary B12 which is currently awaiting repairs on the North Norfolk Railway.

And the Sandringhams also pose something of a mystery - built for the Great Eastern lines by the LNER between 1928 and 1937 many of them carried names of football clubs like Manchester United. Leicester City, Barnsley, and even Norwich City.

But although they ran in this region almost exclusively, none was ever named Ipswich Town - even though the club was elected to the Football League in 1937.

Leicester City features in the book at the head of a milk train heading through Bealings.

It also contains pictures of railway-related activities - like the arrival of the circus at Ipswich station during the 1950s and funeral processions for railmen killed while on duty.

There are pictures of lines that have long-since been closed, the Hadleigh branch, the Framlingham line and the Mid Suffolk Light Railway.

And there are shots from an age when yard shunting in Woodbridge and Melton was in the hands or not steam engines, but heavy horses.

When was this? The 1880s? The 1890s? No - it was as recent as the 1950s!

It's all a wonderful snapshot of East Anglia's railways throughout the steam era!

The book is available direct from Old Pond Publishing Ltd, Dencora Business Centre, 36 White House Road, Ipswich, or www.oldpond.com

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