Union of South Africa

Here’s what dad and I saw steaming in to Edinburgh this afternoon, steam whistle blowing, smoke and steam billowing, Union of South Africa, an A4 Pacific steam loco (the class which set the world steam engine speed record) with the streamliner casing. I know the streamlining was more about image and marketing and didn’t give much of an advantage in reality, but ye gods its lovely. Elegance and power from a different era when travelling the length of our islands drawn by some great steel, fire breathing dragon like this was an adventure and not the boring, over priced chore its become now.
Union of South Africa arrives in Edinburgh 4

(click the pic for the larger version)

Imagine charging down from Edinburgh along Britain’s east coast mainline to London behind one of these magnificent engines, the sea on your left as you roar down towards Berwick upon Tweed, the roar of the engine resounding across the landscape, easily pulling a long line of carriages with its enormous power, crossing the border, cruising into Northern England, passing ancient York, surging south on steel and iron and fire and water at a speed most people of the time would never encounter anywhere else in their life (this series could easily cruise beyond 100mph) until you arrive in King’s Cross in the middle of London. Before most people had cars, long before motorways existed it would have been remarkable to travel so swiftly, to go from one great capital city of the United Kingdom to another in just a few hours, and in comfort and style as well. God, that was the era to travel by train in this country…