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Editorial to Part 11


ONE of the most pleasing features of my ever-growing correspondence is the constant appreciation of the front covers. Several readers have asked if these will ultimately be used as full-page art plates inside. Part 12, which, by the way, is on sale next Thursday instead of Friday (the latter being Good Friday) will contain a plate in the form of a reproduction of the cover which I used for Part 1. There will, of course, be no lettering on the picture itself. I propose later to use others of our more outstanding covers, and I know that this will please a very large number of readers. The cover of the issue which is now before you represents the Great Western “King” class locomotive - “King Henry II”. It belongs to the most powerful express locomotive class used on the GWR, and works the principal services to and from the West of England. The “King Henry II” has 6 ft 6 in driving wheels, four cylinders 16½ in diameter by 28 in stroke, carries 250 lb per sq in working pressure and weighs 135¾ tons in full working order.


SO far as Part 12 is concerned, I am happy to say that I shall begin a new series of chapters in that issue, in response to the demands of many correspondents who are interested in the great railway centres of the world. One of the largest and the most important is British: namely, that at York. The railway importance of York is due largely to its situation midway along the east coast main-line from London to Edinburgh, 188¼ miles from King’s Cross and 204½ miles from the Waverley Station, Edinburgh. Under the roof of York Station are two of the longest platforms of Great Britain, one of which measures 1,701 ft. Just outside the main station there are vast marshalling yards. Traffic here is controlled by a huge locomotive yard signal-box which contains probably the longest mechanical locking-frame in existence, having 295 signal-levers in one row. York Station never sleeps; every hour of the twenty-four sees traffic entering and leaving, and we shall learn in this chapter how skilfully it is dealt with.


ANOTHER interesting feature of next week’s issue will be an enlightening section on Holiday Cruises by Train. The London and North Eastern Railway introduced a cruising train, the “Northern Belle”, in 1933, and ever since then this form of holiday-making has continued to grow. Next week we shall take a week’s cruise to Scotland and the Highlands. The details of this novel form of holiday-making in a railway train which covers 2,000 miles can hardly fail to be of interest.


IT is important to remember that Railway Wonders of the World must necessarily be universal in its scope. I mention this because a few readers have expressed a desire for more essentially British material. These readers will find, however, when they finally come to bind up their numbers that Britain has by no means been overlooked in the scheme of this work.


Britain herself has done much for the railways of the world. In the earliest days the design and manufacture of locomotives was confined chiefly to this country. The lead then gained has never been lost, many famous locomotives having been built here for overseas countries. Britain next week will have a full share of the honours, because in addition to the story of the “Northern Belle”, another chapter will show how the railways came to London. This chapter will reveal many interesting facts. I wonder how many of my London readers could say off-hand on what occasion a locomotive first ran over a railway in the London district?


AT the end of the next issue will be the beginning of a chapter dealing with vacuum brakes. Those readers who wrote to me expressing their appreciation of the contribution on Westing-house Brakes will find the description of the automatic vacuum brake equally fascinating.


GOING abroad, we shall travel across Europe next week by the world-famous “Orient Express”. Of all the international trains, the “Orient Express” most deserves its title; it forms a railway link between thirteen countries and connects Calais with Istanbul. It ranks as the oldest of Europe’s transcontinental expresses.


The original “Orient Express” began running between Paris and Vienna in 1883. To-day the route includes many of the most important cities in Central and South-Eastern Europe. Some of the magic and mystery of age that clings so obstinately round cities like Bratislava, Budapest, despite the ingress of electricity and modern transport, is imparted to the fascinating journey. The train does some interesting stretches at speed, too; in France the miles between Chalons and Nancy are covered in two hours. Nobody interested in rail travel can afford to miss this chapter.


Don’t forget that Part 12 will be on sale next Thursday, April 18, instead of next Friday.