Faviell, Brigadier John
- The Railway Journeys of My Childhood
Pan Books Ltd./Sheldrake Press Ltd., London, 1983.
Landscape octavo; hardcover. with gilt spine-titles and upper board decorations, with a torn tipped-on upper board illustration; 112pp., with many full-colour and monochrome illustrations. Very mild wear; boards lightly rubbed; mild offset to the preliminaries; previous owner's ink inscription to the verso of the half-title page. No dustwrapper as issued. Very good. Brigadier John Faviell was born in 1898, during the reign of King Edward - a period considered by many railway enthusiasts, as the heyday of steam. The Railway Journeys of My Childhood is a remarkable testament to that age: journeys which in the eyes of a child, captured the thrill and magic of steam travel. One of his first 'expeditions' at four years of age was to Hayes Common - a journey of twelve miles: - "We were quite a party. There was mother, nanny, a seven-year old boy, a girl of five and a boy not quite four (me) with our spaniel puppy Jim. Naturally too we had with us all the impedimenta of a picnic: a hamper, a rug, my sister's teddy; and my mother would have had her parasol. This was our trip: first we took a horse tram to Lewisham, then by train (to my great delight) to Elmers End. There we changed and waited for the branch line train to Hayes Station. One memory of that day is absurdly clear: it was of the front view of the incredibly old engine that headed our train. At the time its age was of no consideration. Rather it was a curious feature, not seen before or since, which attracted the interest of a very small boy: a hollow space between the smoke box and the front buffers. Vaguely I see this engine as a 2-4-0 with outside frames and a plain topless windscreen type of cab. It is clear to me now that this small branch line was run by completely antiquated engines and rolling stock. What I saw was probably an engine built as early as the 1860s. It would be understandable for an old warrior with more than 30 years of service to be put out to grass on a small branch line...". Faviell, whose family worked on the railways for generations, recalls it all. The text is accompanied by the author's illustrations. Drawn for his grandchildren (and their children), these watercolours and black and white sketches recall the Edwardian railways in painstaking detail: the platforms, people, fashions and, most importantly, steam engines. The remarkable visual recall of memories of train journeys taken eighty years before is matched by its factual accuracy. The fascination of steam railways which so entranced him is conveyed to us as though a window has been opened on the past; we see what he saw, feel what he felt.
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