Following the same format of Famous Last Lines 2, this wonderful colour pictorial celebrating steam around the world features 5 different steam operated railways from 5 continents around the world.

Sadly, North America is missing. This is because mainline steam ended there before most of us were even born!

There is, however great diversity and of course magical shots of steam and smoke in this last volume of the series.

On this occasion, George Bambery selected the contributions and oversaw production. George recently passed away, so regrettably this is his last effort. Over the years, George developed a magical eye for composition. You may have noticed that in earlier Famous Last Lines.

Here is the cover photo from the book depicting the might of double Qj’s in China.

Here is a list of the lines covered in “Famous Last Lines 3”.

Rio Turbio Argentina South America

“How low can you go”, is a phrase often associated with the Limbo dance craze back in the 1960s. When it comes to steam there is no main line action further south than Patagonia in southern Argentina.

Imagine cold, and then treble it and you can get some idea of what it is like down there. A place so remote, hire cars were frequently rolled on black ice and water shots featured small icebergs in the foreground.

The water in this shot is only partly flowing due to the cold, but it does make for some great steam effects.

This 75mm gauge line features rather large 2-10-2s hauling 1500 tonne hauls of coal. These engines are special. L.D Porta, who created the “Red Devil” 25NC in South Africa with a range of superior modifications, was let loose on this railway to produce some extraordinarily efficient and powerful locomotives. This was a return to his homeland of Argentina. Alas the planned Garratts never saw the light of day as the line’s fortunes waxed and waned on the international coal price.

Robert Kingsford-Smith penned this piece from his many visits to the bottom of the world. This railway line is way south of Australia or South Africa, making it remote, difficult to get to, and freezing. It would stretch the capabilities of photographic equipment to the limits.

A fascinating railway operation, it features exquisite lighting only found at the extremities of the world.

Saalfeld Germany Europe

From the end of World War II until the fall of the Berlin Wall, Germany was a divided country. On both sired there were forests, greenery aplenty, and quaint German countryside. In the west, dieselisation progressed rapidly, while on the other side, giant Pacifics continued to haul express trains at scheduled speed of up to 140 kph, reminding us of the golden age of steam.

While fraught with danger, involving dodging police and soldiers, being careful not to photograph too close to military areas (they covered half the country) and just dealing with beurocracy, for those few who persevered there was some great coverage in an area where steam bounded. A particular favourite of George was Saalfeld, a bustling steam centre with everything a rail fan could wish for.

There were a variety of Pacifics used on express passengers in this area, plus some 2-10-2 tanks on local trains. Malcolm Holdsworth reveals his love for German motive power in this piece which focuses on a pocket of European steam which lasted into the 1980s.

You judge whether the heartache and pain were worth the coverage. I think it was!

The Karoo South Africa

The South African desert is nearly as bleak as Patagonia, although considerably warmer. With hot days and cold nights, sunrise and sunset photo opportunities produced more great lighting.

While the gricers hid in the heat of the day, sipping a cold Lion Lager or two, it was early morning and late afternoon when everyone came alive. The length of this section of line was such that you could pick your train, work out where it would be as the sun hit the horizon, and head for almost guaranteed sunshine.

This beautiful record of South Africa’s number 2 train, the Drakensburg, which travelled from Durban to Capetown in the mid 1970s with a consist of the original Blue Train carriages, was a reminder of the luxury of train travel.

The photographer, Joh n Allerton, myself and several other Aussies spent Christmas Lunch on this train as it galloped across the Karoo in late 1975.

This section is written by Graham “Lumpy” Hinde, who worked as an engineman in the area for a time. Grahame tells some of the stories of his time in the great Karoo.

A rare insight into life in this part of the world.

NSW Coal Fields Australia

We can’t help being a little biased, as we sneak in a chapter on our local railways in last lines. Port Waratah (Pictured here).

Malcolm Holdsworth penned this piece in his usual eloquent style. It covers coal operations around Newcastle, including government trains and the private railways of South Matiland and Coal and Allied at Hexham.

These were the last steam lines in NSW, and operated into the 1980s. While most trains consist of 4 wheel coal hoppers, there are a few more modern, and even a shot of Australia’s last steam hauled passenger train in regular service.

As usual, Photographic Artistry has been applied to shot selection, and there are even a few pictures of the 19 class which operated from the 1870s, and almost survived 100 years of continuous operations. They have a distinctive British look about them.

Jingpeng Pass China Asia

With steam having disappeared virtually everywhere by the early 1990s, the Chinese turned everything on its head, as they often do, building a brand new, spectacular line far into Mongolia. The choice of power were 2-10-2 QJs, often double heading in deep snow and incredible mountain scenery.

Completed in 1995, it was not long before scores of rail fans were mobilised to visit the area, cameras in hand. One of these was English Gricer, Mick Tyak, who recorded his journey in this section of Famous Last Lines 3.

This line may well be the very last famous list line. It certainly will go down in history as the last line built for and operated by steam.


With the usual high standard of photography expected of CADECO publications, Famous Last Lines 3 gives us an insight into the last heavy trafficked steam areas on the different continents. They are a reminder of the great days of steam, not so far away that we can still imagine the hissing and puffing.

Another one for your collection!

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