The Southern Railway had rural branch lines, cross-country routes and long-distance main lines, and the make-up of the SR system led to the survival of some relatively old classes of steam engine into BR days in the 1960s.
In 1960 the Bluebell Railway ran its first trains with a couple of 0-6-0Ts and this line and the other heritage railways in the south of England continue to go from strength to strength today.
But some preservation schemes in the south seemed to founder, and the well-known Mid Hants and Swanage railways were relative latecomers to the scene.
Meanwhile, there was virtually no main line steam action on the SR for many years, and active Southern steam was often seen far away from home territory.
The real main line breakthrough on the Southern came in 1992 when steam was finally allowed on third rail electrified main lines but at first only after dark.
Following Privatisation of the main line network, steam has become almost an everyday fixture on the main line in the 21st century, with Clan Line becoming a familiar sight on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express Pullmans.
An authentic Lynton & Barnstaple train has been seen on the L&B after 80 years and before long, we will even see a long-lost Brighton Atlantic in steam.
This book, the first in a series dealing with the Big Four companies, traces in detail the history of each of the 89 existing steam locomotives of the Southern Railway or its constituent company’s designs, particularly the 65 engines to have steamed in preservation.
Long may the revival continue!