Published 10 December 2012
Pages and dimensions: Hardback. 160 pages. 20mm X 23mm approx
Cover price: £14.99
Richard Hardy, far better known as Dick Hardy, is one of the few railwaymen that is universally known and respected and one conversation with him is enough to tell you that he is a fabulous person and railwayman.
He joined the railways in January 1941 and worked his way from a Premium Apprentice there to Divisional Manager level in British Railways 40 years later. Throughout, he always carrying a camera and took thousands of photographs including in wartime which can now be published.
This book is simply one of the best that has been published for several reasons. Dick Hardy knows his railways, old and modern and was very much a people person motivating staff at all levels. It also becomes clear when reading the book that he, as you could do then, bent the rules when it was beneficial to the railways and the people.
The author has a memory which has been used to caption the many photographs and these are not just the type of engine and location. There are many mini-stories told in the extended captions which bring the pictures to life. Luckily for Dick and everyone else, one of his first pictures taken in July1936 as a 12 year old, was of a train at Amersham where he lived, but the driver caught on camera was the fireman of the very first Great Central Railway service out of Marylebone in 1899.
There are many pictures of people and he names most of them sharing his memories of them and these are detailed in eight sections, each a discreet part of Dick’s career.
His career spanned East Anglia, Woodford Halse, Stratford and Stewarts Lane steam sheds in London going on to management positions in Kings Cross and Liverpool where he was Divisional Manager. He also went to France to see what the French steam expresses could do. Another fascinating chapter in Dick’s life.
After retirement in 1982, like so many railwaymen, Dick’s second career started! It has yet to finish and he has been instrumental in main line steam train operations being chairman of the Association until 1993. He has also been the examiner for steam crews and much in demand as an event speaker and simply for advice. He was also heavily involved in the Steam on The Met events up to a decade ago. In short, any book of Dick Hardy’s is a good read and thought provoking. Especially his ‘Beeching, Champion of the Railways which offers a contra-view of the maligned Beeching.
The final steam train on British Railways in August 1968 saw Dick Hardy on the footplate, where else would he have been! This book is a must have for anyone interested in railways and social history, A life on the Lines combines the two perfectly.
There may be a discount available if purchased via the publishers website.