I have a number of books on my bookshelf that I’d consider essential reading for the railwayman and railwaywoman. I think it’s always worth reading about the life of railway staff from the past because you can learn a lot and it gives you a chance to laugh at their mistakes and then laugh when you make the same or similar ones.
I also think it is important to know where the railways have come from, to understand and play a role in taking them where they are going.
In my essential list are the four books from two great men. They are:
I tried to run a railway – Gerard Fiennes
Fiennes on rail – Gerard Fiennes
Steam in the blood – R H N Hardy
Railways in the blood – R H N Hardy.
I always try to reread them every couple of years. Right now I’m on the last train out of Kings Cross going back to York (after the hard work of a rolling stock engineering Christmas “networking” event) and I’ve just finished Steam in the blood and am wishing I had brought Railways in the blood with me. That will have to wait until tomorrow.
I have had the pleasure of meeting Richard Hardy. He says in his books his work was all about knowing his staff and when I met him he took time out of his day to talk to me about what I did on the railways.
He’s a great man. There aren’t many in his mold left. But then, there isn’t much of his type of railway left either.