The story of Gresley and his locomotives is a well-trodden path. But our view of his achievements is a blinkered one because it fails to recognise all the other people who played a part in his work. As the leading American aviation engineer Paul S Baker wrote in 1945 ‘the day of one-man engineering is long gone. You might as well print the organisation table of the engineering department when trying to assign credit for a particular design’.
To Gresley must go great credit for many of the LNER’s achievements, but those around him have faded into obscurity and are now largely forgotten even though their contributions were immense. To redress this balance, the author has explored the lives of Gresley and his team and sought to uncover a more expansive picture of these events. This in no way diminishes Gresley’s accomplishments, which are immense by any standards, but builds a more authentic view of a dynamic period in railway history.
The book draws upon many sources of information, some of it previously unpublished. This has helped present a fascinating picture of all that happened and all that was achieved, often in the most difficult of circumstances, by a very gifted team of engineers and their exceptional leader.