When Robert Kingsford-Smith, George Bambery and Malcolm Holdsworth decided it was time to share some of their photographic memories of Steam operations around the world, they spent much time thinking of a title.
As their journeying led them to some of the most amazing railway lines on earth, at a point just before steam was to vanish forever in that part of the world, they decided on Famous Last Lines.
I am told that the first in the series sold out in quick time, leading to demand for more. Famous Last Lines 2 is the second in the series, with input carefully selected by Robert Kingsford-Smith who scanned his critical eye on the contributions to produce some spectacular photos plus amusing stories.
As it turns out, Robert, or Rags as he is affectionately known among rail fans, was one of the key selectors of photos for “Northern Exposures”, so you know the quality he demands.
The book covers 5 railway lines from 5 different continents, so it is a true World Steam production, with an Australian flavour.
Donna Teresa Cristina Brazil South America
We start off in Brazil, home of meter gauge 2-10-4s which operated out of Tubarao in the south of the country. This was the closest any of us got to US style steam power, as these were of classic American design, and put out plenty of smoke. Known as a “Texas” wheel arrangement, very few have been seen outside the US, and certainly not for many years. This made the Donna Teresa Cristina railway something unique and special.
As is the privilege of an author, Rags started off with one of his favourite last lines. Over several visits, he captured amazing silhouettes, and plenty of smoke and steam action. If you love Big Steam action with a North American flavour, then you will want this in your collection!
Peterborough South Australia Australasia
Sandwiched between Peterborough and the NSW border town of Broken Hill, were the mighty 400 class oil burning Garratts of South Australia. Given more time than the rest of the South Australian Iron Horse population, a few Easterners made their way in 1969 to this desert like part of the world to record a phenomena not to be seen again.
The story began with an Australian Railway dream, to travel from Sydney to Perth without changing trains! This might seem fanciful, but back then there were 3 changes of train required to complete the journey. One section of 3′ 6″ gauge ran from Broken Hill to Port Augusta and required regauging of the diesels for use on the new standard gauge line.
This resulted in a return to steam on the narrow gauge, with the 400s hauling mainline freights for a year or so.
Robert Belzer, was known as one of Australia’s premium railway photographers, and being a little older than the rest of us, managed to capture the beautiful Australian desert with mighty Garratts, as can be seen from the image above.
This section tells the story of those lines, and includes some great photos of the South Australian “T” class 2-8-0s, one of which is preserved at the Pichi Richi Railway Museum in Quorn, part of the old system. I managed many fine photos in the South African desert, and this line was just as beautiful.
Another historic pictorial of a line that being stretched to standard gauge, will never see the mighty 400 Garratts again.
Duro Valley Portugal Europe
This is a line I did get to, in the company of the author of this piece, Malcolm Holdsworth. The Duro Valley is a special place, a valley lost in time, the steam buff’s version of Shangri La.
We travelled in our campervan for several days from Spain, over some very ordinary roads to Regua, the main loco depot for the region. From there meter gauge with Mallets headed in all directions, while the main line down the valley utilized 5′ 6″ gauge, widely used in Portugal and Spain.
We found it was well worth the trip, being the farthest point from our starting city of Zurich. The valley is spectacular and the motive power quaint, and aesthetic, which is more than you can say for many European locos. Women hauled large jars of water on their heads from the river. It was like going back to biblical days! There are some beautiful shots in this section of the book, with smoke and steam galore. Scenery that has to be seen to be believed, faithfully captured in full colour.
This is a country where steam has survived far longer than it should. Guess it was due to the civil war, and the inability of the current government to manage their finances. In short they couldn’t afford to replace the steam power!
For many years the domain of Garratts, it was hard to get photos of anything else, except perhaps in the Hwange area on local coal trains. The shot above is a 16 class, not often seen on the main line to Victoria Falls. A couple of Zimbabwe Garratts are still operating on shunting duties, although their days are numbered.
Malcolm has done his best to combine artistry, photographic genius and a faithful record of steam operations in this country during the latter days. Some of the lighting in the shots is pretty special, and being later in the timeline of last lines, you can see the development of artistry in the photos.
Whether you made it there or not, you can get a glimpse of Africa, steam style in this piece.
Zonguldak Turkey Asia
My memories of Turkey are that it was very cold, and the photo above proves it!
Commencing along the black sea coast at Zonguldak, this line weaved its way along the coast and then into fabulous gorges with plenty of snow in the winter months.
The main motive power for this line were Vulcan 2-10-0s, rather beautiful streamlined locos were produced by the Vulcan ironworks in Pennsylvania USA.
George Bambery, who visited this area several times in different seasons, demonstrates his photographic genius with picture postcard images like the one above.
Steam in snow has always been a fascination for me, and Turkey offered some of the best coverage in later years.
There are many railway books around these days, regrettably most of them being mainly black and white. CADECO departed from this many years ago, believing that full colour was the way to go.
Focusing on a few of the more scenic and spectacular railway operations spread around the globe, Famous Last Lines 2 offers 128 full colour pages of carefully selected images with a full narrative on the lines covered.
Published in 1999, we have a few copies available for sale at the special price of $40 plus postage.
We hope you enjoy “Famous Last Lines 2”