This is more than just railway nostalgia, more than just an autobiography...Among the many hundreds of learned and technical books about railway and locomotive history, and the biographical reminiscences of Steam Age railwaymen, there are very few written by the 'layman' enthusiast. Happily for us, Elgar Dickinson's beautifully crafted autobiographical account of his long and close companionship with the steam railway affords us a fresh new perspective on that most absorbing of pastimes - train-watching - and man's relationship with perhaps the most 'alive' of his creations - the steam locomotive. It all started in his native Leicester when the sights and sounds of the 1930s railway first impressed themselves on a susceptible toddler. He befriended S. W. A. Newton, who many years earlier had recorded photographically the building of the Great Central Railway's London Extension, and his son, and cycle rides and choir outings introduced him to railways further afield. Four years at university in Durham brought him North Eastern delights, and holiday work in the 1950s saw him as porter and carriage-cleaner at Leicester Belgrave Road station.
His enthusiasm eventually took him to all round the country, and his highly personal response to his experiences, to the railway characters he met and befriended, to the lore of the railway, and to the humour and hardship he encountered, forms the framework of this book. More than just railway nostalgia, more than just an autobiography, "A Friend In Steam" will strike a strong emotional chord with all those who knew and loved the steam railway - and those who wished they had been able to. W. Elgar Dickinson BA MLitt is a retired modern languages teacher, now living in Edinburgh. He was born and educated in Leicester and attended university at Durham.