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Editorial to Part 13

LET me again assure all correspondents that every suggestion received in this office is very carefully weighed and considered, for the personal contact which I have established with readers of Railway Wonders of the World is something that I value. Even the super-critical letter does not come amiss; I have been long enough associated with publishing to know that every intelligent correspondent is a contributory asset to every intelligent publication. To reject the constructive is to reject something of high worth. Many suggestions which I am now receiving were, of course, long ago anticipated, because no work of this nature can be begun without careful planning and foresight; but others have been adopted (or existing ideas moderated or extended) because there were sufficient correspondents to convince me that the suggestions would add to the lustre of this work.

LET me, too, point out that while I welcome my railway mail with enthusiasm, and examine it with the closest interest, it is not always possible to adopt suggestions immediately, since an editor who desires to produce a work for ultimate permanent binding must consider his subject as a whole, and must attend to its “balance”. And, as I am now so close to the subject of binding, I am sure that you will be interested to hear that at this moment I am planning its design and scope. A good many readers have written to me about this. They have demanded something dignified and not ornate, something that will look well on their bookshelves; and this they shall have. There is no fear of Railway Wonders of the World looking anything other than a worthy publication in its two volumes.

NOW for next week: In Part 14 I shall have pleasure in introducing to my readers a new series - “Marvels of Engineering”. It is largely these marvels of engineering which have made the modern railway, and Railway Wonders of the World would not be complete without such a series. No. 1 of the series will feature the erection of the Forth Bridge which spans the Firth of Forth. When the railways began to grow, they stretched out northwards, but the wide estuary prevented a direct communication via the east coast between London and the Northern Scottish towns. As the years passed, and rail traffic increased, it became necessary to bridge this formidable gap.

A host of difficulties confronted the constructors; the bridge had to span nearly one and a half miles, a clear headway of 150 ft at spring tides had to be left for shipping, there were high wind pressures to be allowed for and, above all, the engineers had no precedents to aid them for a work of such magnitude. How the valiant builders overcame so many problems will be explained. In 1890, King Edward VII, then Prince of Wales, drove home the last rivet, and the world applauded the completion of one of the finest pieces of railway engineering. This chapter has been specially pictured by illustrations lent to me by the firm of contractors who carried out the splendid work.

AS a complete contrast, Part 14 will have a long chapter on “Royal Trains”, a fascinating subject about which little is known, except in official circles. Readers will have an opportunity of learning how the railway has served Royalty, how the special coaches are equipped, and how, once, a Shah of Persia visiting this country demanded to have an engine driver decapitated for having exceeded, what the Shah considered, a safe speed limit.

Those readers who enjoyed “The Rail-cars of France” in Part 3 will welcome another chapter on rail-cars. This will deal with the various types of pneumatic-tyred petrol-driven rail-cars.

VERY few people ever have an opportunity of travelling from Moscow to Vladivostok by train, and very few people are well acquainted with the peculiarities of the Trans-Siberian Railway. Next week I shall start an account of a journey across Russia and on to China and Japan. On this romantic trip the reader will travel some 5,900 miles in nine days.

The cover on the current issue shows the LMS express engine “Planet”, of the “Royal Scot” class, and one of seventy in that class. The locomotive weighs, with tender, 127 tons and has the 4-6-0 wheel arrangement. An engine of a similar type has covered 235 miles, on two consecutive days, at an average speed of 79 miles an hour.

IN next week’s part readers will find a magnificent colour plate of Cover 9, which represents a giant American locomotive hauling, perhaps, the most famous of all American trains, the “Twentieth Century Limited”. The express operates on the New York Central line, and runs between New York and Chicago. The total weight of the train often amounts to about 1,300 tons. Among its staff the train carries barbers, valets, ladies’ maids and stenographers.


1. The “Flying Scotsman” No. 4472

2. The “Twentieth Century Limited”