A few years ago, on our way home from holidays, we decided to (I decided to, Lyn indulged me) drop in at the Dwellingup train museum. As it happened we’d timed it just as one of the stem trains had come in from a tourist run and I was able to take several photos of the loco coming in, reversing, the fireman cleaning out the fire box, and the marshalling of the coaches. It was a great time. For me it was paying homage to a two things: an age of steam that was crucial to the development of the world (and no longer possible given the polution and carbon hungry nature of steam); and my childhood spent catching steam trains. While pollution is bad for the universe, I sill miss the smell of burning coal, the hiss of steam, the whoosh of pistons, and the clanking of steel wheels on rail. It was like they say, a steel horse. it was as if it were alive, pulsating and vibrating, thrumming and moving, a living, breathing beast.
As a child growing up in Nottinghamshire, I was fortunate in my love of trains to live near a rail line and to see steam trains daily. My father took me across Nottinghamshire to indulge me in transpotting (taking down the numbers of the trains coming past and looking out for well-known or famous locos. On my way to school I had to pass by a major goods marshalling yard, and it was fun to observe the manoeuvres of locos and wagons. As a child coming to Australia I discovered that steam was just as much a part of the rail system here, even though it was slowly being phased out for diesel.
My passion segued to rail modelling. So in many ways I pay homage to steam trains, and I miss them because they were such a part of my life, the sounds, smells, feelings and visual are part of me. I do enjoy diesel and electric too, but it just isn’t the same.