Compound Locomotives

Compound Locomotives by J.T. van Riemsdijk

Compound Locomotives – An International Survey

Van Riemsdyk, J.T., “Compound Locomotives”, published by Atlantic Transport Publishers, UK, 1994, ISBN 090689961 3, 140 pages 275 x 220mm.

The following description is copied from the fly-leaf of the book:

Compounding, the use of the same charge of steam by expanding it in more than one cylinder of an engine before exhaust, was one of the most important single steps forward in the development of the reciprocating steam locomotive after Stephenson’s Rocket had, in 1829, established the fundamental basis on which serious long-term evolution could proceed. Yet it is a strange fact that the nature of the compound is not always fully appreciated or understood, not least in the nation which gave birth to the steam locomotive itself, Great Britain.

This book tackles this deficiency by tracing and explaining the development of the compound from its mid-Victorian origins to its final triumphant flowering (sadly too late to have much long-term influence) in the last days of significant steam working as far as most of the world’s railway systems were concerned. It is a fascinating story, embracing many countries (most of which tended to learn from each other’s example) and is offered here in a form which all interested in steam locomotives will find totally absorbing, regardless of any geographical or company affiliations they may hold. John van Riemsdijk, retired Keeper of Mechanical Engineering at the British Science Museum and ‘mastermind’ behind the setting up of the National Railway Museum at York in 1975, is an established international authority on the subject of compound steam locomotion and was personally acquainted with many of the well known locomotive engineers who feature in these pages. In this masterly survey he has distilled the essence of a lifetime of research into the subject in an accessible way which even those with but modest technical knowledge will find easy to understand; and there is a simple introductory technical note anyway!

Lavishly illustrated with well over 200, largely previously unpublished photographs from the author’s collection, supplemented by many explanatory line drawings, this book is sure to become the definitive work on the subject. It is an important contribution which fills a profound gap in recorded railway history and will be regarded as an essential reference work by all who take serious interest in or have knowledge of the steam locomotive.