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Editorial to Part 20


I AM now receiving many appreciative letters from those correspondents in the Dominions and abroad who have now had the opportunity of reading several issues of Railway Wonders of the World. These letters are a striking and gratifying endorsement of the policy which I have endeavoured to maintain from the outset - that Railway Wonders of the World should have an international appeal.


Among my correspondence from the Dominions is a letter from J. L., of Melbourne, Australia.

J. L. apologizes for writing a long and enthusiastic letter, and excuses himself by saying that, as he is only 17, his enthusiasm must be put down to extreme youth, and to the fact that he is anxious to learn as much as possible. Age has nothing to do with it. Enthusiasm for railways begins with most of us very early, and once we have that enthusiasm it does not leave us.


Curiously enough, a striking example of this comes by the same mail from H. R., of Perth, Western Australia, who has been a railway engineer for more than fifty years; yet he, too, confesses that there is still much to be learnt, and confesses, too, that his enthusiasm for the railway is no less now than when he worked on his first construction job.


AS another correspondent lives on the Gold Coast, he is naturally interested in the development of its railway system, and he will find that the chapter which begins in Part 21 will describe the Gold Coast railway system in detail. The Gold Coast, which is spread over three areas - the Gold Coast Colony, Ashanti, and the Northern Territories - has a total area of 91,690 square miles; it is served by some 500 miles of railway. Trains were first run on the line north of Sekondi in 1901; in 1903 Kumasi was reached, and in 1923 a complete through line from Sekondi was run to Accra, where my correspondent lives. To-day, the railway also serves the important harbour of Takoradi.


The railway on the Gold Coast was first planned so that gold mines could be exploited by machinery. Not only has this been done, but, because of the railway, new industries have also been developed. The Gold Coast to-day is a prosperous unit of the British Empire. The building of the railway line in the Gold Coast, the laying of the track, and the construction of bridges through the jungle, were fraught with a hundred perils, and constitute one of the epic stories in railway history.


A continuation of “The Story of the Southern Railway” will also be included in Part 21. This will give a comprehensive survey of the entire system, including some interesting details regarding the famous docks at Southampton, and the various types of locomotives that ran on the several systems which were incorporated in the Southern Railway. The company’s cross-Channel services from Dover to Calais, Folkestone to Boulogne, and Newhaven to Dieppe will also be dealt with.


In spite of the splendid cross-Channel services which the Southern and other companies give us, their efforts cannot avoid a bad Channel crossing. The finest ships afloat cannot master a rough sea. Those of us who have had to endure a bad Channel crossing must frequently have wished that the much-discussed Channel tunnel ran below this stretch of water, which in actual mileage is so short, but which, in rough weather, seems so endless. Next week there will be a chapter on proposed railway tunnels beneath the Channel.


SLIP coaches are an interesting feature of railway travel. Some companies use an ingenious apparatus which enables a main-line train to cut off its slip coaches at the desired point and proceed on its way with only the slightest check in speed. The Cornish Riviera express, for example, in its winter formation includes two slip coach sections. The details of this device wall be fully described in a chapter next week. Part 21 will also contain a splendid art plate of the night scene, which was also our cover on Part 12. This illustrates a Southern Railway 2-6-0 type mixed traffic engine about to enter a station.


The cover of this week’s issue shows two LNER expresses passing Wood Green, near London. No. 2552 is a 4-6-2 express passenger locomotive named “Sansovino”, one of the famous “Pacifics” of the London and North Eastern Railway. Many of these “Pacifics” are named after racehorses, and No. 2552 is named after Lord Derby’s horse that won the Derby in 1924. No. 3288 is one of the LNER “Atlantic” class, with a 4-4-2 wheel arrangement. The “Atlantics” are, in spite of their age (which is about thirty years or so), still used with great success for hauling important expresses of moderate weight.