It was not until the summer of 2009, after being informed by the spokesman of a group which had embarked on a mission to correct errors in my What Happened To Steam series, that I became aware of the existence of the aforementioned rogue correspondent who had been supplying me with the fabricated data and was mortified at this revelation.
For the following twelve months I was too shell‑shocked to act, but, after not being invited to participate in their project and stung by adverse criticism, some of it personal, I decided to embark, from scratch, to re‑research all the facts contained within WHTS.
I have since travelled the length and breadth of the country in an endeavour to correct the information that was wrongly published, including a number of visits to The National Archives at Kew (GWR). Many, many railway books, magazines (and journals from long‑defunct railway societies – borrowed) have been purchased, at no small expense, some excellent and some indifferent, one of the latter having photographs and captions portraying the same Hall Class 4‑6‑0 (despite one them obviously being a Modified Hall) waiting to be cut up at two different scrapyard venues many miles apart during the same month and year!
During the course of my re‑research I have collated (like a ferret in a disused mine as one kind soul once described me) a vast minutiae of information on allocations, reallocations, withdrawals, storage and disposals, literally burning the midnight oil on many occasions, often having to sort out the ‘wheat from the chaff,’ so to speak. Most of this I have done single‑handedly, without the advantage of internet and railway press coverage in articles, along with pleas to railway enthusiasts to ‘dig out their notebooks.’
Much of the fresh information that has come to light during the past three years, was, as previously dwelt upon, either unavailable, difficult to locate or its existence was unknown to me (as an amateur railway historian) whilst I was conducting my initial research into What Happened to Steam.
One aspect that I have been rather heavily criticised over is ‘wrong storage data’ after condemnation, but during my re‑research I am of the opinion that the overwhelming majority of the main storage locations are still correct as per the original WHTS booklets – backed up by dates of sightings along with the appropriate sources of the same.
Some storage locations are incorrect and have, quite rightly, been brought to my attention and will be acted upon in due course.
As a finale I would like to thank my wife, a ‘railway widow’ as opposed to a golf one, for her never‑ending patience and understanding whilst I have been conducting my on‑going re‑research.