Holman Fred Stephens (1868-1931) set himself up in the 1890s as an engineer and manager of the complete light railway as evolved by Victorian theorists to serve rural districts as yet bereft of the benefit of cheaper transport.
To them, a light railway was not an assemblage of second-hand mainline equipment of dubious merit but of fit for purpose, new material. This ideal theory did not survive the near universal inability to raise sufficient capital to build and equip a light railway that would make a reasonable profit. As a result, second hand locomotives and equipment were often sought.
Stephens became a master at the art of building and running railways with the minimum of capital. The history of the mechanical performance of his railways was also nearly always handicapped with inadequate engineering facilities. This left staff struggling, often surprisingly successfully, with a menagerie of locomotive types.
Limited standardisation was practised on Stephens' railways. This gave rise to a glorious kaleidoscope of locomotives, the history of each of which is outlined in this book. This variety was further coloured by Stephens generally regarding a locomotive name as far more important than its number.
Well-illustrated throughout with archive black & white photographs, covering a wide variety of locomotive types. Hardback. 176 pages.