Transacord updates

Transacord started trading again following publication of the discography with various recordings available for download. More are being digitised and made available over time. See Transacord's website - yes, it my old Transacord website, the one on which I used to advertise the book, but I transferred ownership when Transacord was resurrected!

Omission from discography

Only the above LP was missed out from the discography, this the last Argo World of Steam series release (probably issued around June 1980 - Transacord LPs were issued around three months apart and the previous release was issued in March 1980). It looks as though it wasn't advised to trade listings (probably swallowed up in the company's reorganisation in the months following Decca's sale to PolyGram in January 1980) and very few copies seem to crop up for sale, hence my not knowing of its existence until about three weeks after publication! This was one of the first batch of reissues on ASV Transacord (in either May or June 1981) and it is the ASV version that crops up most often for sale. I'd assumed that it had probably been in production for Argo before they were dropped by Decca's new owners but not issued and that ASV had represented the first release. It never does to assume without better data!

Interesting to note is that, at whatever point in 1980 it escaped from captivity, it was a UK pressing, which is odd in itself. As from 1979, Decca started pressing its UK albums in Holland and the vast majority of 1980 Decca LPs are Dutch pressings, so this one is a bit of a contradiction all round!

Aha, the plot may thicken. I've just had a look at the last few Argo Transacord LPs and, although the labels clearly state 'Made in England', the pressings of both this LP and SPA 572, Midland and North Western (both of which were 1980 releases) are definitely Dutch pressings (the giveaway is the raised circular band around the label edge). Perhaps this is just a case of using up existing label blanks in advance of dropping the sub-label from the catalogue - I mean, why spend more just to alter the last few label credits? SPA 564, Trains in Trouble, from late (probably December) 1979 is a UK pressing.

Updated image

  • Only a black and white image could be found for the ASV Transacord reissue of Steam on the Lickey Incline before the publication deadline, so here's a colour version.

Detailed track listing for free CD

This information was originally included on my old Transacord website but disappeared after I transferred the domain to the resurrected Transacord Ltd. (It's back up there now, only I've added a bit more information here!) Most of the information here was originally written as sleeve notes by Peter Handford, but has been lightly edited.

The intention of the CD was to present one recording each from the ex-Big Four regions (Band 1, ex-LNER; Band 2, ex-GWR; Band 3, ex-LMS; Band 4, ex-SR), one from a joint station (Band 5, SR & S&D, though, admittedly, Band 4 could also count!), one focussing on the human side of the railway rather than on the engines (Band 6), one from a jointly-run line (Band 7, S&D, jointly run by LMR & SR at the time of the recording), an example of a non-UK railway (Band 8), a recording of non-railway, steam-powered transport (Band 9).

Bands 7 & 9 had not previously been released on CD and were digitally remastered specially for this CD.

  • Band 1. At York Station. Unidentified express from Edinburgh enters the station. 60941 (V2) from Newcastle heads out to Liverpool. The wheeltapper taps as 68250 (J71) moves away in the background. 60157 Great Eastern (A1) slips with northbound Tees-Tyne Pullman. 61415 (B16) runs light through the station. 60048 Doncaster (A3) heads north to south through the station with fitted freight.
  • Band 2. On the Hereford-Abergavenny line at Llanvihangel Summit on a November night in 1960. 5322 (4300 class) at the head of southbound loose freight stands in the loop near the station. 6834 Dummer Grange (6800 class) approaches with fitted freight from the north, heads through the station with a whistle. 5322 heads out, stops and resumes.
  • Band 3. On the Settle-Carlisle line at Ribblehead Station on a November night in 1961. A strong wind, saturated with chilling drizzle, blows from Blea Moor. The Carlisle-Bradford stopping train approaches the station, coasting down the 1 in 100 gradient, into the station, headed by an unidentified Black Five. Bells ring in the signal box and a railwayman heads home on his motorcycle. Another unidentified Black Five approaches with a northbound freight, climbing from Settle, toward Ribblehead in a now gale force wind. The exhaust beat quickens as the freight reaches the slightly easier 1 in 176 section through the station, then climbs the 1 in 100 section with echoes thanks to the wind. After the telephone rings, unheeded, we hear the sound of the engine, now beyond the end of the viaduct, slipping, regaining adhesion and heading into a rock cutting towards Blea Moor tunnel.
  • Band 4. At Exeter St. David's Station, on the Southern Region main line in 1958. 30317 (700 class) pilots 34034 Honiton (WC) out of the station with 32124 (E1/R class) banking. Unidentified WR express passes in the background as 34003 Plymouth heads an express out, banked by 32697 and 32135 (both E1/R class). Bankers 32124 and 32697 (both E1/R class) pass running light whilst 34104 Bere Alston (WC) is ready to leave. An unidentified WR express passes as 34104 leaves, banked by 32135.
  • Band 5. At Templecombe Station on the Southern Region West of England main line and the Somerset and Dorset line. 34002 Salisbury (WC) in the west yard with a train of empty coaches. 3720 (5700 class pannier) trundles past with vans. 34063 229 Squadron (BB) passes with the Atlantic Coast Express. Unidentified loco whistles on approach from S&D line as 3720 passes. 30910 Merchant Taylors (School) heads out with a passenger train to Exeter. 35008 Orient Line (MN) runs east through the station with express. 30523 (H15) starts from the station and 34022 Exmoor (WC) heads in to stop with an up passenger. 34109 Sir Trafford Leigh Mallory (BB) heads past with slow freight as 41248 (Class 2) heads out from the S&D platform.
  • Band 6. At Dent Station signal box on the Settle and Carlisle line. A strong breeze, blowing from Blea Moor, hums and sighs through the lineside telegraph wires, whilst we hear the signalman at work in the signal box, on the telephone and chatting to a coal merchant in the yard below. He acknowledges bell codes and expresses some strong opinions about the driver of the 11 o'clock freight from Leeds, which is half an hour late! Signal levers are pulled and the offending freight train whistles in the distance. 48283 (8F) rattles past ('faster than the blooming Scotsman') on the 1 in 264 climb toward Dent, tears through Dent Station, then swings away under a road bridge and through a cutting toward Rise Hill Tunnel.
  • Band 7. On board a five coach Templecombe-Bath Greek Park train on the Somerset and Dorset line. Unedited extract from recording from October 1960. Soon after leaving Evercreech New on the 2.5 mile 1 in 50 climb to Shepton Mallet, it is obvious that all is not well with 4-6-0, No. 75073 (Standard Class 4). Speed drops to 13.5 mph. It takes 4.5 minutes to cover one mile to Cannard's Grave and the driver tries desperately to prevent the brakes from leaking on. The summit is reached and the recording finishes with the train coasting downhill toward Shepton mallet station. This is a digitally remastered version of the track from the mono Trains in Trouble EP, which has better overall dynamics than the electronically processed for (fake) stereo version as included on the Trains in Trouble LP.
  • Band 8. In the Istrian mountains, Slovenia, at Lupoglav Station on a stormy night in November 1970. Thunder! 28-057 (class 28 2 cylinder 0-10-0) heads freight train. Same then runs light engine, couples more trucks and heads away. As an aside, I wrote much of the first draft of the book in similar thunderstorms a mere 20 or so miles from where this was recorded.
  • Band 9. Steam traction engines at Appleford, Berkshire, June 1959. First, a single cylinder, two-speed agricultural engine, No. 9689, built by Fowler in 1903, moves slowly past and away, whistling in the distance. Next, a three speed, compound, showman's engine, No. 3489, King George VI, built by Burrell in 1913, moves past and accelerates away, down the field. Now, Princess Mary, a Fowler ploughing engine, built in 1919, whistles and moves in the distance and another, distant, engine whistles. Finally, a single cylinder, two-speed agricultural engine, No. 15710, Tommy, built by Fowler in 1920, approaches and moves past and away, while a steam-hauled train is faintly heard in the background, on the Western Region Didcot-Oxford line. (This is a digitally remastered version of the recording from The World of Steam Volume 3 LP and not from the Steam Traction Engines EP, which included different edits of some of the same recordings.)

Out of the woodwork - an unreleased test press!

A stereo test pressing of the Argo Transacord mono only EP, The Halls (EAF 150) has turned up with the handwritten catalogue number, 'ZFA 150'. Close listening via headphones has confirmed that it is definitely a stereo recording.

Now, pertinent questions are:

  • Was the original intention to put this one out in stereo as well as mono?
  • Was the original intention to put this out in stereo and not mono?
  • Is EAF 150 really a mono EP or is it a mis-numbered stereo record?

As for the last question, I don't have a copy of EAF 150 so can't tell you!

Right-click on the images below to open larger versions in a new browser window.

Transacord recordings issued since publication

These are not Transacord Ltd. releases but are copied from vinyl copies and issued by Old Thundridge Records - 'All tracks carefully transcribed and digitally restored from the original discs', as the credits on that company's reissue of Folk Songs and Ballads of England and Scotland & Tony Wales' Sussex state.

Is this legal? Well, the state of play is this, ' sound recordings expires 50 years from the end of the year in which the recording was made, unless the recording is published during that 50 year period in which case the copyright will expire 70 years from the end of the year in which it was published' (as stated on the Future Learn website). Anyway, I'm not endorsing these releases, just advising of their existence!

  • Peter Handford's Steam Railway Recordings Volume 1: Sound Pictures
  • Peter Handford's Steam Railway Recordings Volume 2: Atmospheric Pictures
  • Peter Handford's Steam Railway Recordings Volume 3: Dramatic Pictures
  • Peter Handford's Steam Railway Recordings Volume 4: Pastoral Pictures
  • Peter Handford's Steam Railway Recordings Volume 5: Majestic Pictures
  • Peter Handford's Steam Railway Recordings Volume 6: Striking Pictures
  • Authentic Vintage Sound Effects Including Steam Engine N.7 on the Jazz